For-profit Lobbying Escalates

When the going gets tough in this city, the tough get lobbying, and, as could be expected, for-profit colleges are no exception to this rule.

As federal scrutiny of the sector has spread from the U.S. Department of Education’s in-the-weeds negotiated rule-making process last winter to the high-profile series of hearings by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that began in June, for-profit higher education has responded by spending increasingly more on lobbying the Education Department, the White House and members of Congress. From the first quarter of the year (January-March) to the third (July-September), based on Inside Higher Ed’s analysis of public disclosure data, for-profits’ federal lobbying spending nearly doubled, from slightly more than $1.3 million to just short of $2.6 million.

In the first quarter of the year, for-profit colleges and their associations spent at least $1,335,000 on federal lobbying. By the second quarter, the same set of colleges and groups, plus a few others that did not lobby during the first quarter, spent $1,780,000. And in the third quarter — for which the reporting deadline was Wednesday, though some firms appear to be late in their disclosures — the same set of organizations and some newcomers spent a total of $2,590,000.

By contrast, the Institute for College Access and Success, a group that supports the Education Department’s shift toward greater regulation of for-profit colleges, spent $10,000 on lobbying during the first quarter and $20,000 in each of the second and third quarters. The American Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees spent a combined $100,000 during the first quarter, when the American Graduation Initiative was being debated by Congress, and $45,000 in the third quarter.

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