NCL heralds results of Harkin Report on for-profit colleges – National Consumers League

July 31, 2012

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323,

Washington, DC–The National Consumers League (NCL) is heralding Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) for his HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee’s comprehensive report on for-profit colleges, a study that reveals that for-profit colleges are a dubious investment for students.

According to the Harkin study, which took two years to complete and was released Monday, associate degrees and certificate programs at for-profit colleges cost about four times as much as those from community colleges and public universities. The majority of the students enrolled leave the school before receiving these costly degrees; half leave within the first four months. When they drop out they are saddled with thousands in student debt and nothing to show for it. The report documents that 80 percent of the funding of these schools comes from the Department of Education, and that the schools put most of their resources into recruitment, rather than teaching. So to add insult to injury, taxpayers are underwriting the profits of these for-profit institutions.

Not only do for-profit college students have higher tuition fees and a higher dropout rate, but they are more likely to default on loans. According to Senator Harkin, “students in for-profit schools represent 13 percent of the nation’s total college enrollment, but account for almost 50 percent of all loan defaults.”


“This report suggests that the for-profit model of higher education is more concerned with making money than in providing a quality education for students or providing solid work opportunities,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL. “We are hopeful that this report is the first step in cleaning up the exploitation of students by for-profit colleges, and thank Senator Harkin and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for their exemplary work in preparing this report and protecting and promoting the  rights and interests of both students and taxpayers.”


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit