Saying students “deserve a college education free from rip-off scams,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan unveiled the outline for a massive student loan forgiveness plan for students — an undertaking that could ultimately cost taxpayers billions of dollars.
Duncan called the proposal “unprecedented.” It comes one month after the scandal-plagued Corinthian Colleges chain of for-profit schools filed for bankruptcy. Corinthian, which operated Everest University and other schools, is accused by the federal government of falsifying its job placement rates, misleading students and encouraging them to lie on loan applications .
In a Monday afternoon conference call with reporters, Duncan told reporters that a college education is the pathway to the middle class, but “that path has to be safe.”
“Some of these schools have brought the ethics of payday lending into higher education,” Duncan said.
Curtis Austin, the head of Florida’s for-profit college lobbying group, the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges, said that all types of schools can make mistakes. Austin said he does not believe there are systemic problems with the industry.
As to assertions that some for-profit colleges have used dishonest tactics, Austin responded “I don’t know of any that are currently operating that do that.”