The Latest Pages Missing from the White House Website: Education
The Trump administration has removed all of the Education pages from the White House website. This may not surprise some considering his administration has already removed sites about the Climate, Disabilities, Civil Rights, LBGT, Native Americans, and Spanish-language pages. However, Trump had been less outspoken about his disagreements with the Obama administration on education policy, and many of his supporters are hoping that he can make student loan forgiveness easier.
I discovered this omission as I was doing research for an article on Student Loans Guy, and noticed that the “Investing in Higher Education: Benefits, Challenges, and the State of Student Debt” report I was referencing disappeared from the White House website. Luckily, I’d previously downloaded the report, which I’ll cover in more detail below. Some of the previous Education pages can still be accessed through the Obama White House Archives, but what was removed may be the actual story.
Obama Administration Had Been Critical of For-Profit Colleges
Default rates are high at for-profit universities. According to the College Board, two-year student default rates at for-profit colleges have hovered around 20% from 1995-2012 compared to 8% at public and private non-profit colleges. To show you why these missing pages from the White House site are important, I’ve included some excerpts below from the missing report.
– A two year investigation by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions found that for-profit colleges spent about 30 percent more per student on marketing, advertising, recruiting, and admissions staffing than on instruction. The report also highlighted a number of tactics that misled prospective students about program costs, the availability of aid, and information about student success rates and the school’s accreditation status.
– Despite these poor outcomes, for-profit institutions have accounted for a large share of enrollment growth since the early 2000s, which was in part driven by funding constraints at community colleges.
– After three years, borrowers from non-profit and four-year public schools have paid down 15 percent of their original balance on the whole, compared with only 8 percent at community colleges and 3 percent at for-profit colleges.
Because of these findings, the Obama administration started to crack down on for-profit schools. Corinthian Colleges were shut down, DeVry University reached a settlement over deceptive advertising, and ITT Technical Institute has shut down after being hit with a series of sanctions.
Trump and For-Profit Universities – A Potential Conflict of Interest
Donald Trump’s previous experience in Education came when he operated Trump University from 2005 to 2010. Trump University provided real estate investment courses, but did not offer any college credit or degrees. Based on information from court documents, the for-profit university preyed on low-income people and often encouraged their students to take on debt to attend its programs. About 7,000 former students participated in a lawsuit, and Trump ultimately settled the case out of court for $25 million.
This is concerning because Trump seems to not only support these for-profit universities, but he actually created one in his own name. He’s likely still reeling from the Trump University backlash, so why not wipe any negative reports about for-profit colleges’ deceptive practices?
Trump Administration’s Response to Missing Pages
New White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has indicated that at least some of these missing sites will eventually come back, but why deprive the public of the information that was previously available? This is especially pertinent as Trump is already being questioned on conflicts of interests regarding his business interests and for not releasing his tax returns.
The Trump transition team had 73 days between election night and inauguration day to add their policies to these sites. The concern among many is whether Trump even has specific plans laid out in each of these areas. The longer these sites have generic landing pages, the more questions will emerge about the level of transparency from the new President’s office.
What Government Resources Are Still Available to Student Loan Holders?
The Federal Student Aid Resources and StudentLoans.gov pages provide information on filling out the FAFSA, preparing for college, and the basics of taking out and repaying federal student loans. Use your FSA ID to log in to the National Student Loan Data System to see all of your federal student loans in one place. This program is one of the ways the Obama administration tried to make it easier for student to track and repay their student loans. This is especially important as servicers like Navient continue to use deceptive practices.
Government policies and research around education should always be accessible to the public to allow people to measure its effectiveness. To reinforce this message, I’ve published the missing “Investing in Higher Education: Benefits, Challenges, and the State of Student Debt” report below.
What do you think comes next for student loans under the new presidency? Was the removal of this report intentional or was it an oversight? Leave your comments below.
Written by Brandon Yahn, Founder of Student Loans Guy