Posts Tagged ‘Illinois Institute of Art’

David Mahan, a 29-year-old student studying digital design, says an angry Sen. Dick Durbin noticed him wearing a T-shirt for his college — Illinois Institute of Art, Schaumburg (ILIS) — while protesting outside an education hearing Durbin was holding at the Dirksen building last Tuesday. Mahan (a veteran who served in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan) tells me that after some back-and-forth, Durbin said: “I don’t give a tick s— about ILIS.”

A Durbin spokesman denied the Democratic senator made that particular remark, but Matt Reams, another ILIS student who witnessed the encounter, insists that he did.

One might wonder why a college student would take such umbrage at criticism of his school, but Mahan tells me he has invested himself so much in ILIS that he feels an attack on it is tantamount to an attack on him.

There’s more to the story, of course. Durbin has called for more oversight of for-profit colleges such as the one Mahan attends. The hearing was intended to look at complaints that such colleges entice students to take on massive debt while failing to deliver on their promise of jobs that pay enough for graduates to pay back what they owe.

A proposal by the Department of Education would require for-profit educational institutions to demonstrate that their graduates are repaying student loans (and that they do not have a high debt-to-income ratio) before qualifying for additional loans. There have also been proposals that for-profit colleges should bear a percentage of the risk if their students default. (For-profits received more than $24 billion in federal grants and loans last year.)

Studies show that students who attend for-profit schools like Strayer, Devry, and The University of Phoenix, for example, currently have a lower rate of repayment than students who attend other schools.

These proposed changes, of course, could have a major impact on for-profits. Earlier this year, as part of the health care reform bill, the Obama administration pushed most private lenders out of the student loan game (they can still manage the loans) in favor of having the government almost exclusively make direct loans to students. As such, withholding government loans is a serious stick to wield over for-profit schools.

Critics charge that when it comes to picking winners and losers in higher education, as might be expected with the Obama administration, for-profits are now at risk — even though, on average, for-profit institutions charge less than private non-profits, according to the College Board (and less that public non-profits, once taxpayer subsidies of public schools are taken into consideration).

Nevertheless, a proposed “gainful employment rule,” which ostensibly seeks to ensure that graduates of an institution are able to find work after graduation — may well end up favoring traditional non-profit schools over for-profits. This, of course, has for-profit institutions worried.

For example, ITT Technical institute ran a full-page open letter to President Obama in Sunday’s Washington Post about it.

To be sure, there are some bad actors — colleges that run TV ads promising the moon to students, but then failing to deliver — but these schools are the minority. One school that could be hurt by the changes is ILIS, which is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.
In a June letter to the editor, ILIS campus president David W. Ray wrote, “The proposed rule, cleverly termed ‘Gainful Employment,’ will remove student choice and deny access to programs and degrees for many. The result is that entire programs now available under Title IV federal financial aid could be ineligible if they don’t meet the Education Department’s unrealistic ‘one-size-fits-all’ debt-service-to-income ratio test. Career-focused education is at particular risk.”
(According to ILIS: “Of all 2008 graduates of The Illinois Institute of Art — Schaumburg available for employment, 88.1% were working in a field related to their program of study within six months of graduation, at an average starting salary of $31,722.”)

These for-profit schools serve a lot of non-traditional students like Mahan. Many are older students who often work part time, making one wonder if government skepticism may be at least partially due to how different these students are from the people making the rules. Ken Blackwell, a conservative columnist who also taught at Xavier University, thinks the proposed rules reflect elitism, noting that, “A college or university that primarily serves working-class adults is, apparently, somehow illegitimate to these liberals.”

Such criticism, however, is not merely coming from the right. Many of the students attending these schools come from poorer families than those attending traditional colleges. As The Washington Post recently editorialized: “The government is right to fashion reasonable regulation to discourage fraud or misleading practices, but it would be wrong to impose rules that remove an option that is especially useful for poor and working students.”

http://www.careercollegecentral.com/news/Dick_Durbin_Allegedly_Insults_Student_as_For-Profit_College_Debate+Unfolds

Tell Dick what YOU think – http://durbin.senate.gov/contact.cfm

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