One of the most interesting battles in Washington, taking place mostly behind-the-scenes, involves The Washington Post, a long-time liberal paper backing Democratic Party policies, and a leading liberal Democratic senator. Readers of the paper got a glimpse of the struggle on December 10 on page 18, in a story headlined, “For-profit colleges get soaring amount of U.S. aid for military students.”
The article by Nick Anderson said, “The Washington Post Co. operates for-profit schools through its Kaplan subsidiary” and is among those getting huge sums of federal money supposedly to educate and find jobs for veterans. What went unsaid is that Kaplan is the main money-maker of The Washington Post Company and keeps the money-losing Post newspaper afloat.
In other words, if it weren’t for Kaplan, the Post could go bankrupt.
Liberal Senator Tom Harkin has been accusing the for-profit colleges of ripping off students, getting them hooked on federal loans for degrees that are mostly worthless and never land them good jobs. The result is that the colleges get paid but taxpayers pick up the bad loans, potentially costing hundreds of millions of dollars.
Harkin is now focusing on the students who are veterans and getting educational money and loans through the Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). His report found that:
- Revenue from DoD educational programs at 18 for-profit education companies increased from $40 million in 2006 to an expected $175.1 million in 2010, a 337 percent increase.
- Revenue from VA educational programs for the same 18 for-profit education companies increased from $26.3 million in 2006 to an expected $285.8 million for 2010, including a fivefold increase between 2009 and 2010.
In the ninth paragraph of the ten-paragraph Post story we read this: “On Thursday, a military veteran named Roger Betancourt joined Harkin on a conference call. Betancourt said a Kaplan University recruiter hounded him to enroll even though he was unsure about his eligibility for veterans’ aid. Betancourt said he wound up with $2,300 in debt and no benefits. ‘It’s been an overall bad experience,’ he said.”
A USA Today story had additional information: “Roger Betancourt, 29, of Laredo, Texas, who separated from the military in 2004, says a Kaplan University recruiter ‘kept harassing me with calls’ until Betancourt finally enrolled, only to drop out after he learned Kaplan had given him incorrect information about his eligibility for the GI Bill. ‘It’s been an overall bad experience,’ says Betancourt, who owes $2,300 in student loans for his schooling at Kaplan.”
Donald Overton, Executive Director of Veterans of Modern Warfare, said that the report on the problem issued by Harkin “underscores the growing number of horror stories that I’m hearing from veterans about their experience with for-profit colleges. Veterans are being aggressively recruited by these for-profit education companies, with no concern for whether they get the support or education they need to succeed.”
The report notes that The Washington Post Company’s Kaplan University “has a military recruiting team comprised of 300 admissions advisers, financial aid counselors and academic advisers.”
Post Chairman Donald E. Graham has been vigorously lobbying his fellow liberals on Capitol Hill against any changes that would adversely affect his cash-cow Kaplan. Despite the liberal slant of its editorial page, the Post is sounding conservative on this matter, saying that Harkin and the Obama Administration want to exert too much federal control over these for-profit colleges.
Is the Post putting profits over people?
While Harkin is a liberal who believes in increasing the power and authority of the federal government, the fact is that the colleges are getting a lot of this cash from federal loans and taxpayers. Hence, the federal government has a role to play in order to prevent the Post Company from ripping off both students and taxpayers.