Democrats, top DeVos aide spar over for-profit colleges

Presented by George Mason University

With help from Benjamin Wermund, Kimberly Hefling and Michael Stratford


DEMOCRATS, DEVOS DEPUTY SPAR OVER FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES: Diane Auer Jones, a top higher education official, was in the hot seat on Wednesday before a House Oversight subcommittee. Here are some highlights:

— Jones sparred with Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the panel’s chairman, over DeVos’ restoration of a large accreditor of for-profit colleges that was terminated by the Obama administration. Krishnamoorthi asked Jones to reconsider her recommendation on the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, citing letters Democrats obtained last year that they said showed some of the accreditor’s peer organizations hadn’t actually provided the support that Jones’ report claimed they had.

— Jones and Krishnamoorthi disagreed over whether the peer accreditors had provided sufficient support for ACICS to meet the federal standard of having “wide acceptance” in the field. “The criteria is not for an endorsement,” Jones said, but rather whether peer organizations “accept” ACICS accreditation.

— On the Dream Center controversy: Jones said the Education Department is still examining the flow of millions of federal dollars to Argosy University, whose eligibility for federal aid was terminated by the Trump administration earlier this year after the Dream Center-owned school failed to disburse financial aid owed to students. “There is a review that’s ongoing,” Jones said, adding that the department had not yet received audited financial statements from the schools.

— On alleged conflicts of interest: Because of Jones’ previous work in the for-profit college sector, she said that she was complying with the ethics advice of career officials. Jones said she’s recused from dealing with a for-profit trade association and a Utah-based company that runs career colleges. She said she is permitted to work on gainful employment regulations because it affects a broad swath of schools. And she said she’s been cleared to work on issues regarding Career Education Corporation, where she previously worked in 2015, but hasn’t done so.

— Rep. Virginia Foxx, the top Republican on the House education committee who joined the panel, came to Jones’ defense…. (continue reading)