Are for-profit colleges hurting online education’s reputation?

For-profit colleges account for about half of student loan defaults.

Congressional hearings and a barrage of criticism have put for-profit colleges on the defensive, and with many of the sector’s largest schools touting vast web-based course options, those who track the industry say for-profit programs could damage the public perception of online education.

Lawmakers from both major parties have defended the for-profit industry’s business practices, but Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has remained one of the most vocal—and active—critics of for-profit colleges’ recruitment and student loan practices.

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