Kaplan said Disgruntled Alumnus at Harkin HELP Hearing Previously Called School Experience ‘Very Beneficial’

Senator Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), is holding a full committee hearing on Thursday regarding for-profit higher education policy solutions. Mr. Harkin’s hearing is happening at a time when Department of Education’s "gainful employment" rule was recently published amid DoEd Inspector General investigations about the crafting of the rule itself.

Prior the publishing of the GE rule the DoED established this summer, a HELP hearing included a number of witnesses who berated the for-profit school industry including Wall Street hedge fund manager Steve Eisman whose vocal support of the GE rule was always questionable given the financial benefits via short selling that he would walk away with if the GE rule became established policy, and Eric Schmitt, an Iowa resident who attended a Kaplan University school for paralegal studies.

I have written extensively about Mr. Eisman in the past, but up until this point, I have never made a reference to Mr. Schmitt’s June 7, 2011 testimony. Many supporters of the GE rule will hold up Mr. Schmitt as a perfect example of how the for-profit school industry is ripping off the students it claims to serve.

According to his testimony, he graduated from Kaplan with an Associate degree and Bachelor’s of Science in Paralegal Studies with an emphasis in Personal Injury. Mr. Schmitt felt compelled to tell his story to the committee “after taking on $45,000 in student loans and spending years job-hunting without success.”

However, according to a statement from Kaplan that was placed in the Congressional record, Mr. Schmitt’s own statements about his experience at Kaplan from a student survey he filled out appears to paint a completely different picture than what Mr. Schmitt testified about last June.

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