Spellings' for-profit past extremely troubling

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The new president of the UNC system, Margaret Spellings, has a history of profiting off of students. According to an op-ed published in the News & Observer, Spellings "Spellings made over $330,000 working for the Apollo Group, the parent company of University of Phoenix," and "also served as board chair of the Ceannate Corporation, a student loan collection agency." Both of these agencies seek to profit off of students' earnest desire to get an education and to better themselves. For Margaret Spellings, students are 'customers,' rather than students -  a disturbing concept in a state who's University system was founded to provide quality education at as little cost as possible to the student. 

Read more at the News & Observer

Spellings made over $330,000 working for the Apollo Group, the parent company of University of Phoenix, a for-profit online college that has been widely criticized for taking advantage of its students and delivering poor results. Although federal education funds account for nearly 90 percent of the company’s revenue, graduation rates were as low as 4 percent under Spellings’ tenure.

he Apollo Group’s corporate goals are to increase shareholders’ profits by lowering standards and raising admission and fees. The company has even come under fire for targeting veterans to obtain G.I. Bill funding. After a federal investigation into the Apollo Group’s practices, the for-profit company laid off 600 workers and closed 115 “campuses” – while its founder received a $5 million “retirement bonus.”

The investigation found that students who attend for-profit colleges end up defaulting on their student loans at nearly three times the rate of students who attended public and nonprofit schools. As a result, nearly half of all student loan defaults nationwide are from students who attended for-profit colleges.

The investigation found that students who attend for-profit colleges end up defaulting on their student loans at nearly three times the rate of students who attended public and nonprofit schools. As a result, nearly half of all student loan defaults nationwide are from students who attended for-profit colleges.

That’s why it is particularly troubling that Spellings also served as board chair of the Ceannate Corporation, a student loan collection agency. Student loan debt now accounts for the highest percentage of consumer debt, and despite widespread calls to reform the student loan industry, Spellings and the Ceannate Corporation have simply profited off of it.

More than 60 percent of North Carolina college graduates have student loan debt – an average of $24,319 per student, according to the Project on Student Loan Debt. Right now, the average North Carolinian with a bachelor’s degree pays about $350 a month on student loans for almost 19 years.

Spellings’ defense of for-profit colleges is perhaps just as disturbing as the predatory practices these institutions use to fleece students. “(For-profit colleges) invented higher education in a way that was more convenient for working adults, and many in traditional higher education have responded,” she told the Board of Governors. “The reason I did it was because I learned a lot about how we can serve our students and think of them as customers in providing a product in convenient ways for them.”

In a state that claims to value public education and prides itself on a top-notch university system, students should not be viewed as “customers” to profit from and then discard. In treating higher education merely as a “business,” instead of one of the most worthwhile investments a society can possibly make, the Spellings choice reflects priorities that are the opposite of what our university system needs.


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article42293412.html#storylink=cpy

 

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