Continuing his crusade against for-profit colleges and universities, Senator Harkin held his fifth Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on for-profits on June 6 titled, “Drowning in Debt: Financial Outcomes of Students at For-Profit Colleges.” Although the final Gainful Employment rule has already been released, this hearing was little different from the previous four. Senator Harkin’s hearing featured critics of the for-profit industry, and he allowed proponents of the industry no chance to present their point of view. It was no surprise that Senate HELP Committee Republicans announced their intention to boycott the hearing weeks ago if Senator Harkin did not work with them to find constructive solutions to the issue.
Perhaps symptomatic of the underlying bias toward for-profit colleges and universities has been, Senator Harkin’s refusal to acknowledge a growing chorus of groups calling for an investigation of government action on this matter. This week, Americans for Tax Reform called for an SEC investigation into short-seller collusion with the Department of Education. Eve as the Gainful Employment rule and the future of students at for-profit institutions continue to be hotly debated, it would seem that Senator Harkin would at least listen to some of the thousands of individuals who have spoken out against the rule.