DEGREE OF DEBT: For-profit schools and campaign cash

DEGREE OF DEBT: For-profit schools and campaign cash

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Non-profit colleges in America have their detractors – and not just those students who feel they've been taken advantage of.

But they clearly have their supporters in Washington as well. The business newspaper Barron's reports the incoming Trump administration may loosen federal restrictions on the for-profit education industry. Fortune says for-profit education stocks jumped last week, after Donald Trump won the presidential election.

"While there's less chance of a government crackdown on for-profit institutions, you still shouldn't pay to get a degree at one of these schools," Barron's writes.

The president-elect's apparent support for the industry is nothing new. For-profit colleges have been giving generously to political campaigners for years.

The industry is represented on the state and federal levels by a powerful trade association called Career Education Colleges and Universities. It was formerly named the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.

APSCU found itself in a bit of trouble in recent years as some of its former members came under federal investigation for deceptive trade practices. Further, federal researchers determined that for-profit students eventual earn less than they did before enrolling.

But with a new brand and a new administration in DC, the CECU, through its political action committee, may be poised to benefit from years of campaign contributions and other support for top politicians, both Republican and Democratic.

FOX 8 reviewed campaign contribution and expenditure data from CECU/APSCU from 2009 to August 2016, the latest available from the Federal Elections Commission.

Among our findings:

  • CECU/APSCU received $1,113,970 in contributions over the almost-eight-year period;
  • The group reported $1,112,971 in disbursements over the same period to politicians, their election campaigns and party campaign organizations;
  • Ayers Career College in Shreveport, Louisiana topped the list nationwide in terms of reported employers of contributors – its employees contributed a total of $64,750 to the PAC in the 2009-2016 time period;
  • Top recipients of CECU/APSCU include the Republican and Democratic election committees for House and Senate;
  • Among the leading individual campaigners receiving those funds are U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina), Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, and Roy Blunt of Missouri, a leading Republican senator who just won re-election in a touch campaign fight.

You can find much more detail in the interactive graphic published with this report; mobile users can access it at this link.

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