THINK PROGRESS: Marco Rubio’s Close Relationship With For-Profit Corinthian Colleges
Career College Central Summary:
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is running for president in 2016, has a strong record of supporting for-profit colleges, namely Corinthian Colleges, which shut down all of its remaining campuses in April. Rubio has accepted contributions to the tune of $27,600 throughout the past five years. The last donation filed with the Federal Election Commission was for $2,700 on April 30, Bloomberg reported.
Last year, Rubio also sent a letter requesting that the U.S. Department of Education would exercise “leniency” on Corinthian Colleges by not halting federal aid while it was being investigated. The letter was obtained by Bloomberg Politics and reads, in part:
While I commend the Department’s desire to protect our nation’s students from fraudulent and malicious activity by any institution of higher education, regardless of tax status, I believe the Department can and should demonstrate leniency as long as Corinthian Colleges, Inc. continues to expeditiously and earnestly cooperate by providing the documents requested.
The U.S. Department of Education stated it would fine Corinthian Colleges for misleading students before the campus shutdowns, citing problems such as falsifying post-graduation data. A 2012 Senate report accounted for several trends in the for-profit college industry, such as poor graduation rates, high tuition, even though students with modest financial resources are targeted, and that they often fail to provide adequate student support services.
Rubio has supported the idea of for-profit colleges in general, not only Corinthian Colleges. In a speech this month in Chicago, he said the rules for colleges’ accreditation needed to be loosened for “innovative, low-cost competitors” to succeed. That reference to low-cost competitors is likely shorthand for for-profit colleges. Rubio worked with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) on a budget amendment earlier this year that would create an alternative accreditation process. However, some would argue that the process of accreditation is already too loose, as the accreditation agencies are paid by the very institutions they oversee through fees.
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