State lawmakers look to limit influence of for-profit colleges

“It is … my duty to ensure that consumers are not being taken advantage of as a result of unfair or false business practices,” Conway said after the bill cleared the State Senate Education Committee.

Kentucky’s Decker College, after it was shuttered in 2005, tried to collect on millions in student loans the school had made directly to its students. The attorney general’s office investigated the closed college, and the school released more than 2,200 student loans worth $4.5 million.

A similar scenario played out at the Barkley Schools of Law. The college, formerly known as the American Justice School of Law (AJSL), attempted to collect thousands of student loans after it closed its doors.

Conway oversaw a settlement between Barkley and its former students, lowering the average loan debt of every student by about $25,000.

The frequency of for-profit college scandals that have cropped up throughout the state in recent years made it nearly impossible for lawmakers to ignore the issue of college oversight, wrote Blue Bluegrass, a blog that tracks Kentucky politics.

“As the cost of a public college education has born the back of tax increases by underfunding legislatures, cynical for-profit colleges have been more than willing to step in and make matters worse,” the blog said. “Aggressively targeting students strictly to squeeze them into loan debts they can never pay back in exchange for worthless degrees. No wonder more oversight is finally being recognized as needed.”

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