Debt relief for defrauded students is long overdue – and so is Kaplan’s liability

Lawyers representing former Kaplan Career Institute students in Massachusetts have sued the U.S. Department of Education, alleging an unlawful and unconscionable failure by the Department to cancel federal student loans — seven years after the Massachusetts attorney general settled with the school on charges that he cheated and defrauded students. The year after the Massachusetts AG office reached its $1.375 million settlement with the Kaplan Career Institute, the state asked the Department for a “group release” on behalf of the students, alleging they had been wronged by systematic deception and deserved to have their debt cancelled. without individualized presentations by each last participant.

The Department is expected to move quickly to cancel the loans in response to the lawsuit, which was filed by three nonprofit law firms: Student Defense, Project on Predatory Student Lending and National Consumer Law Center. Ex-students have wasted enough time and money to earn Kaplan degrees that for many have yielded no career advancement.

But there is more the ministry should be doing. The operator of the Kaplan Career Institute, the company that the Massachusetts AG found was defrauding students — and whose loan dumps would cost taxpayers millions — is not a mall scam operation. It’s a big company, listed on Wall Street, called Graham Holdings, whose president is Donald Graham, a powerful Washingtonian from a legendary Washington family. Legendary because the company was once called The Washington Post Company before selling its flagship newspaper to Jeff Bezos. Unfortunately, under Donald Graham, society shifted its focus from journalism to educational testing and then to running predatory universities that took billions of taxpayer dollars for student aid and ruined the financial future of many people they had promised to help.

The struggling brands of Kaplan Career Institute, Kaplan College and Kaplan University – tainted by multiple law enforcement, congressional and media investigations exposing deceptive and predatory practices – are now gone. (In 2015, Graham Holdings sold Kaplan Career Institute and Kaplan College to another predatory chain, Education Corp. of America, which renamed the schools “Brightwood,” but then closed the campuses and all of its operations. in 2018.) But that doesn’t mean Kaplan Higher Education and Graham Holdings have exited the higher education business. Instead, taking advantage of the lax regulatory environment under Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, Graham Holdings engineered a troubling deal with former Indiana governor and current Purdue University president Mitch Daniels to dress the Kaplan University with a new name – Purdue University Global – and the respectable brilliance and protections of a state university, while allowing the company to hold a lucrative 30-year contract to continue running the school .

So taxpayers continue to send tens of millions of dollars each year to a school run by the same predatory Graham Holdings/Kaplan operation, and people seeking to improve their financial futures through education – veterans, single mothers , recent immigrants and others – continue to enroll, when they could get much better and more affordable training elsewhere.

So even if the Department of Education does the right thing here in response to the retrial and provides debt relief to those defrauded by Kaplan, it needs to stop compounding its mistake of sending money. to Kaplan through Purdue Global. He should take a close look at the company and the school and recognize that they have lost the privilege of participating in the federal student aid program.

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