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Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Dick Durbin called on the Higher Learning Commission, the college accrediting body, to do a “careful review” in its examination of Apollo Group Inc.’s University of Phoenix.
Since the last evaluation a decade ago, the for-profit college, the largest in the U.S., has been the subject of at least five state lawsuits and a federal investigation, Durbin, the Democrat from Illinois, said in a letter yesterday to Sylvia Manning, president of the commission.
The for-profit college industry has been under scrutiny by Congress and states attorneys general who are investigating sales practices and student debt loads. The Higher Learning Commission, based in Chicago, is one of six regional accreditors that examine schools for financial stability and academic rigor. Accreditation is essential for students to receive federal financial aid. For-profit colleges get as much as 90 percent of their revenue from federal programs.
Students at for-profit colleges are more likely to be unemployed and earn less in the six years after graduation than their peers at community colleges, according to a study released today by Harvard University researchers.
The industry has grown faster than any other field in education and “warrants careful scrutiny,” Durbin wrote in the letter. “We have limited federal resources for student financial aid, making it imperative that participating institutions offer their students quality education, clear information about their financial obligations and appropriate educational support.”
Apollo, based in Phoenix, rose 0.5 percent to $52.13 at the close of trading in New York. The stock has climbed 14 percent in the past year.
“We appreciate Senator Durbin’s focus on ensuring a thorough accreditation process,” said Bill Pepicello, president of the University of Phoenix. “This review will be the largest and most significant in higher education accreditation history and will be the benchmark for review of all institutions and online programs. We are proud of the quality education we’ve provided at University of Phoenix for more than 30 years.”
John Hausaman, a spokesman for the Higher Learning Commission, wasn’t immediately available to comment.
--Editors: Lisa Wolfson, Chris Staiti
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