The Student Loan Debt Bubble, Predatory For Profit Schools and the Clinton Connection
The newly released tax returns also revealed how much money Bill Clinton collected for his role as an honorary chancellor of Laureate Education Inc., a massive for-profit college system. From 2010 through 2014, the former president took in $16.5 million from the organization. He left Laureate, which has been a major donor to the Clinton Foundation, in April of this year, less than two weeks after his wife launched her presidential campaign.
A new study from the Center for American Progress finds that just 20 universities account for nearly one-fifth of all grad student debt, a total $6.6 billion. What’s perhaps most surprising is who those universities are: 10 of the 20 are for-profit schools, including two foreign schools.
The only requirement seems to be money, and if you don’t have it, they will help you borrow it (often from the federal government). The degrees themselves are barely worth the paper they are printed on, because the reputations of most of these schools are–well, let’s just say they aren’t good. Graduate degrees do improve your career choices, if you get them from a well-regarded institution. But when the school isn’t even ranked in the top 200, a degree isn’t going to open any doors, and it’s certainly not worth borrowing tens of thousands of dollars to get one.
The biggest borrower on the list is Walden University, whose grad students borrowed $756 million last year, according to the CAP report. Walden is owned by Laureate Education, a for-profit education company that hopes to go public next year. This seems to be a profitable enterprise, at least for its CEO.
In 2001, when Walden University was purchased by what would soon become the world’s largest for-profit college company, the small Minnesota college had just over 2,000 students. By 2010, it had swelled to some 50,000 students across the globe.
The company that took over Walden — and guided it through growth of 2,400% over 10 years — was not Apollo, which owns the University of Phoenix, or any of the other for-profit college giants that are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Walden’s owner is Laureate Education, a private, internationally focused education company that also happens to be the biggest on the planet. It’s a little-known giant that tends to stay out of the public eye, even though its honorary chancellor is Bill Clinton and its investors include private equity giant KKR and financier George Soros.