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David Halperin
David Halperin advises organizations on strategy, policy, politics, communications, and legal matters, and he writes at He was previously: founding director of Campus Progress and senior vice president at the Center for American Progress; senior policy advisor for Howard Dean's presidential campaign; founding executive director of the American Constitution Society; White House speechwriter and special assistant for national security affairs to President Clinton; co-founder of the Internet company RealNetworks; and counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Entries by David Halperin

Post-Corinthian: Gates, Gingrich, Graham, and Fake "Susan and Dave" Aren't Done Opposing For-Profit College Rules

(3) Comments | Posted July 25, 2014 | 12:53 PM

Are "Susan and Dave" a for-profit college student, or the parents of a for-profit college student?  From the comments they posted on two different websites this week, seems like, both. Actually, it seems like a lie, perpetrated by a wealthy industry that will say or do anything to keep tapping billions...

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For-profit College Group APSCU Has Consistently Harbored Fraudulent Schools

(1) Comments | Posted June 30, 2014 | 2:19 PM


I mailed this letter today to Mr. Arthur E. Benjamin, Vice Chair, American Institutes Holdings LLC; Mr. Donald E. Graham, Chairman and CEO, Graham Holdings Company; and Mr. Steve Gunderson, President and CEO, Association of Private Sector Colleges and...
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U.S. Gas Exports Flow Through DC Lobbying's Revolving Door

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2014 | 4:14 PM

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Even as President Obama pursues an aggressive new public effort to fight global warming by regulating U.S. power plants, his administration is quietly advancing an energy policy -- exporting America's liquid...

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Jeb Bush Denounces Obama Rule to Hold For-Profit Colleges Accountable for Burying Students in Debt

(0) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 9:39 AM

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) last week denounced President Obama's proposed "gainful employment" rule, which is aimed at holding accountable those career education programs that take taxpayer dollars but consistently leave their students with overwhelming debt.  According to a post on Twitter by the trade association of for-profit colleges,...

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For-Profit Corinthian Colleges on the Brink: Who's Responsible?

(13) Comments | Posted June 20, 2014 | 3:40 PM


Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit company that operates career training schools, is in deep trouble. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education, which has been providing Corinthian with about $1.4 billion dollars annually in student grants and loans, sent Corinthian a letter saying the...

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SNL 'Making Copies' Guy, in Business With For-Profit College, Attacks Obama

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2014 | 2:35 PM


Barack. Barack-O. Barack-O-Rama. The Obamanator! Makin' some copies. Copying the Gainful Employment Rule. 845 pages!

You remember Rob Schneider on Saturday Night Live with his breakout character, the guy who sat by the office copy machine and annoyed people...

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Obama Task Force on Chemical Dangers: Strong Enough?

(0) Comments | Posted June 6, 2014 | 9:22 AM

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Last year, a devastating chemical plant explosion in the town of West, Texas,  killed 15 people and injured 160 more.  The tragedy seemed to reawaken in President Obama a determination to improve safety and security at...

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Leader of Attack on Obama Global Warming Plan? Rudy Giuliani's Firm

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2014 | 3:42 PM


After the attacks of September 11, 2001, New York's Rudolph Giuliani became "America's mayor," mobilizing his city and standing as a defiant foe of the forces of terrorism. Then, after the devastating force in the New York area of superstorm Sandy,...

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For-Profit College Enrolls, 'Exploits' Student Who Reads at Third-grade Level

(0) Comments | Posted June 2, 2014 | 4:01 PM


A librarian at a southern California campus of Everest College abruptly resigned last week, deeply upset that the for-profit school had admitted into its criminal justice program a 37-year-old man who appears to read at a third-grade level.  The man, who...

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Obama Must Stop Giving Taxpayer Billions to Colleges That Ruin Students' Lives

(0) Comments | Posted May 27, 2014 | 10:38 PM


Tonight at midnight ET is the deadline for people to comment on the Obama Administration's gainful employment rule for career college programs.  Below is the text of my comment (pdf here), just submitted. 

To: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

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Top Donor for House Education Chair Is For-Profit College Facing Federal and State Fraud Probes

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2014 | 9:18 AM


As reported yesterday by OpenSecrets, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has no serious opposition in her bid for reelection, yet has received more than $800,000 in campaign contributions. More than half of that money has come from outside North Carolina, much...

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Marco Rubio: The Dirty Energy President

(0) Comments | Posted May 13, 2014 | 11:30 AM

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On Sunday's ABC This Week, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) expressed two notable opinions. First, he said he's ready to be president of the United States. Second, he asserted that climate change is not caused by humans...

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Suze Orman Warns Against Private Student Loans, Yet Teaches at University of Phoenix

(1) Comments | Posted May 6, 2014 | 9:42 AM

Last year I reported that Suze Orman had been hired by the University of Phoenix to teach an online personal finance course and had appeared at a Capitol Hill event where she promoted the school, which is the largest for-profit college in the country.  It was difficult to understand how a woman who proclaims herself "undeniably America's most recognized expert on personal finance" could accept such a role when, for many people, enrolling at a for-profit college can be the worst financial decision they make in their entire lives.  While some graduates of the University of Phoenix and other for-profit colleges have succeeded in building strong careers, many students fare poorly, as many of the big for-profit schools, including Phoenix, have sky-high prices, low actual spending on student instruction, high dropout rates, and weak job placement records. The result is that often former students end up with overwhelming debt; for-profit colleges have 13 percent of U.S. college students, but an astonishing 47 percent of student loan defaults. Most of the biggest for-profit schools, including Phoenix, are now under investigation by federal and state law enforcement agencies for abusing students. 

Now, ace student advocate Mike DiGiacomo, whose new petition to hold for-profit schools accountable has already surpassed 100,000 signatures, has alerted me to a piece of video that highlights Orman's hypocrisy. In the clip, you can see Orman, in an episode of "Oprah's Money Class" from February 2012, state emphatically, "Private student loans should be avoided at all costs."  

This is very good advice. Private student loans, in contrast to federal direct loans, have high interest rates and origination fees and are not subject to most loan forgiveness programs. They quickly bury students in an avalanche of debt.

Yet the University of Phoenix routinely channels its students into private student loans.

The school's website does "recommend" that "private loans only be considered after applying for federal financial aid," but it then quickly gets down to business and directs students to a private company's website, Student Lending Analytics, that compares private loan providers and offers links to lender websites.

University of Phoenix students often have little choice but to sign up for private loans, as they likely discover when they speak with one of the school's financial aid counselors. Tuition for an associate's degree in business at the University of Phoenix Online is $24,500, while the same degree costs $4,087 at Phoenix College in the Maricopa Community College system in Arizona. A bachelor's in business at the University of Phoenix costs $74,575, while the University of Arizona charges $44,200 for the same degree. Federal loans and grants don't come close to covering Phoenix's high prices, and like other big for-profits, the University of Phoenix does not normally provide anything like the level of in-house scholarship funding to lower-income students that many nonprofit and state colleges offer. So many students who attend the University of Phoenix see no option but to take out these private loans.

Yet by December 2011, Orman was already singling out the University of Phoenix in USA Today for praise, saying that the school "makes all its students go through a free and mandatory three-week orientation course to make sure they understand the full costs of college before they sign on the dotted line." And by last year she had joined the faculty, and she appeared at an event in the halls of Congress just as the University of Phoenix and other for-profit schools were lobbying for congressional support to fend off the Obama Administration's "gainful employment" rule, which would hold career training programs accountable precisely for leaving students with insurmountable debt. Perhaps some Members of Congress, inclined to worry about the value and conduct of for-profit colleges, were reassured by Orman's celebrity endorsement of the University of Phoenix, just as potential students might be.

Orman can be seen on the University of Phoenix website, firmly warning students against overborrowing, seemingly oblivious to the fact that 26 percent of the students at the school default on even their low-interest federal loans within three years of leaving.

I don't know how much the University of Phoenix is paying Suze Orman. But it appears that Orman is committed to improving your bottom line, unless doing so interferes with improving her bottom line.

This article also appears on Republic...

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Exposed: For-Profit Colleges' Blueprint for Blocking Obama Regulations

(1) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 9:47 AM

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Posted on the website of an accounting firm in Puerto Rico is a revealing PowerPoint presentation dated February 20, 2014, and credited to Steve Gunderson, the CEO of APSCU, the trade association of for-profit colleges....

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Washington Post Opposes Regulating For-Profit Colleges Without Disclosing Publisher's Stake in the Industry

(0) Comments | Posted May 2, 2014 | 2:01 PM


This week the Washington Post editorialized against President Obama's "gainful employment" rule, aimed at holding career training programs accountable for leaving students with insurmountable debt, without disclosing that the newspaper's publisher, Katharine Weymouth, serves on the board of directors of a...

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Study: Blacks, Latinos, Low-income Americans Live Closest to Dangerous Chemical Plants

(4) Comments | Posted May 1, 2014 | 1:23 PM

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A new study released today finds that the Americans who live near hazardous chemical industrial facilities are disproportionately African American or Latino, are more likely to live in poverty, and have lower incomes and education levels...

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For-Profit College Offers Students Pizza to Lobby Against Obama Regulation

(2) Comments | Posted April 28, 2014 | 7:53 AM

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While it storms government offices with high-priced lobbyists, the for-profit college industry also is aiming to flood Washington with cards and letters from their students and staff opposing President Obama's gainful employment rule. This...

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For-Profit Colleges Spend Big on Lobbyists to Fight Obama Regulation

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2014 | 7:39 AM

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With the May 27 deadline approaching to submit comments to the U.S. Department of Education, big for-profit colleges are pulling out all the stops to gut the Obama Administration's proposed "gainful employment" rule, which is...

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New Trove of Federal Reviews of College Financial Aid Compliance

(1) Comments | Posted April 23, 2014 | 11:29 AM

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The U.S. Department of Education has this week posted online reports from its program reviews of colleges receiving federal student aid, including major schools like Georgetown University and the University of Arizona, as well as of controversial...

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Breaking: Justice Dept. Sues For-Profit Stevens-Henager College

(0) Comments | Posted April 9, 2014 | 3:09 PM

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Today the United States District Court in Idaho unsealed a complaint that has been joined by the U.S. Department of Justice under the federal False Claims Act against for-profit Stevens-Henager College and its affiliated schools CollegeAmerica and California College...

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