February 4, 2011
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Alarming Loan-Default Rates at For-Profit Colleges
WASHINGTON—We need a better system of checks and balances to make sure that predatory for-profit colleges don’t take advantage of our most vulnerable students. The reality is that by putting profits ahead of students, for-profit colleges leave too many of their graduates buried under a mountain of debt.
New data released by the U.S. Department of Education confirms this. The data, which covers all institutions of higher learning, shows that 25 percent of the students who attended for-profit colleges defaulted on their loans within three years—more than double the defaults by students at public institutions. In fact, loan defaults at for-profit colleges now account for nearly half of all defaults on federal loans for college. The data comes as federal education officials finalize regulations on the eligibility of for-profit colleges to continue to collect federal student aid.
We join Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and others in calling for our leaders to fix a system that consigns students to a lifetime of debt before they even begin their careers. Too often those students are low-income or minority students, which is why the AFT this week joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and other groups in asking Education Secretary Arne Duncan to issue a strong “gainful employment” rule that would crack down on programs that fail to prepare their students for a better future.
The read the conference’s letter, go to:
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.