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Republican support of for-profit colleges defies Ronald Reagan

Republican Support of For-Profit Colleges Defies Ronald Reagan.jpg

"There are future doctoral dissertations waiting to be written about how and why Democrats and Republicans reversed positions on the merits of the for-profit trade-school sector."

- Charles Kolb, Department of Education Aide under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

For the last generation, GOP politicians have been evoking one person as the embodiment of the conservative ideal: Ronald Reagan. Without citing details or facts, politicians - some of whom were children at the time - will make bold claims that their values perfectly align with President Reagan's. Further, they will harken back to an idyllic time of Reagan's presidency, then promise voters a return to those times.

When it comes to for-profit education, history actually shows that President Trump and the current GOP have taken the exact opposite position of President Reagan. In fact, they are more aligned with the Democratic party through the 1980's.

Background of the For-Profit College Problem

After World War II, President FDR signed the GI Bill, which provided money for war veterans to pay for an education. The expectation was that soldiers would attend traditional four year colleges and use their education and degrees to get jobs. Unfortunately, the number of for-profit colleges skyrockets in the years following the GI Bill, as these businesses saw soldiers as easy money. Even then, for-profit colleges would engage in false advertising about job placement statistics, when the reality was that these degrees were often worthless.

From that point forward, for-profit colleges would be a lightning-rod political issue, with Democrats favoring de-regulating the colleges while Republicans favored heavy-handed regulation. Why were Republicans so opposed to for-profit colleges? Because they had high dropout rates and high student loan defaults, which taxpayers end up footing the bill for.

President Reagan Wanted to Shut Down For-Profit Colleges

When President Reagan took office, student loan defaults were at historical highs due to Jimmy Carter's de-regulation of the industry. So Reagan and his Secretary of Education William Bennett aimed to target and shut down for-profit colleges. Bennett stated that the misconduct of for-profit colleges "is an outrage perpetrated not only on the American taxpayer but, most tragically, upon some of the most disadvantaged and most vulnerable members of society." They saw for-profit colleges as benefiting from ripping off students, while taxpayers were stuck with the bill.

Fast forward to 2017. President Trump and Education Secretary DeVos have been clear in their intention to de-regulate for-profit colleges, despite their predatory behavior toward students and enormous cost to taxpayers. While for-profit college abuses haven't changed much since the 1940's, there has been an ideological shift over time. And it is indisputably clear that the current Republican party is not aligned with President Reagan's position on for-profit colleges.

While political ideologies may have changed over time, for-profit colleges have not. Since 2008, attorneys Ari Moss and Jeremy Bollinger have fought for consumers against abuses by for-profit colleges. Let us fight for you. If you have attended DeVry between 2006 and 2016, DeVry may owe you money. Call Moss Bollinger today at 800-249-1175 for a free consultation or reach us online.

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