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Senator Durbin Chides One Business Model while Praising Another

Evan F. Moore | 9/9/2015, 12:44 p.m.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) held a news conference last week at Argosy University in downtown Chicago to warn college bound ...
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin stands with Metropolitan Family Services Calumet Center, Executive Director Audrena Spence and President and CEO Ric Estrada.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) held a news conference last week at Argosy University in downtown Chicago to warn college bound students about unsavory practices of many for-profit schools. He also called on the U.S. Department of Education to use its full authority to end abusive practices and improve student outcomes.

Durbin stood outside of Argosy explaining the differences between some of the for-profit college and comparable non-profit community college programs.

Education Management Corporation, the company that owns Argosy, is under investigation by at least 14 state Attorney Generals for various unfair and deceptive practices. According to Durbin, a student seeking an Associate’s Degree at Argosy University-Chicago can expect their program to cost around $34,000. A comparable Associate’s Degree at City Colleges of Chicago costs about $7,000.

Later that day, the senator also visited the Metropolitan Family Services center located at 235 E. 103rd St.

U.S. Senator Durbin visits with one of Metropolitan Family Services Calumet Center's childcare program participants.

U.S. Senator Durbin visits with one of Metropolitan Family Services Calumet Center's childcare program participants.

“I appreciated the chance to visit Metropolitan Family Services Calumet Center and get a behind the scenes look at some of the great work they do for the Calumet community,” Durbin said. “As a Senator, I had a productive meeting with agency leaders about the challenges they face as a social service agency and the progress they’ve made.”

Durbin went on to say that Metropolitan Family Services understands the needs of the community.

“Metro understands that there is no single solution that fits every community or family. A full-service approach is what makes the difference,” Durbin says.” I will continue to work at the federal level to ensure that Metro’s many programs and services have the resources needed to continue and grow into the future.”

Durbin has been a long time thorn in the side of for-profit colleges. The industry receives more than $25 billion in federal dollars. That’s make them the ninth largest federally funded agency. According the Durbin’s office, for-profits only enroll about 10 percent of all college students; they take in 20 percent of the Department of Education’s federal student aid funds and account for a disproportionate 44 percent of student loan defaults.

Durbin was joined at the press conference by Rohit Chopra, Senior Fellow for the Center for American Progress.

As the former student loan ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Chopra fought to stop illegal conduct by for-profit colleges, leading to lawsuits against major chains like Corinthian and ITT Tech.

Attempts to contact Argosy went unanswered.