A U.S. Senator is taking steps to advise high school students regarding the risks of pursuing post-secondary education at for-profit schools. In a press release, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced that he had urged high school principals across Illinois to ensure that their students are receiving honest and accurate information about their higher education options, and that they are aware of the risks associated with the for-profit college industry. Durbin stated that he wrote the principals to call their attention to the “often irresistible lure of for-profit colleges,” many of which are facing increased scrutiny from federal and state regulators for a variety of abuses including fraudulent marketing and recruiting practices, falsifying job placement rates, and predatory lending practices. Durbin asked the principals to make their students aware of all of their options for accessible, affordable higher education, including programs at community college and other not-for-profit institutions.In the letter to principals, Durbin wrote in part, "Students can hardly ride a CTA bus, watch their favorite prime-time sitcom, or surf the internet without being bombarded by attention-grabbing advertisements from for-profit colleges offering a hassle-free enrollment process, federal financial assistance, flexible schedules and a promised path to high-paying jobs and a better life. But too often it doesn't work out that way."
The Senator's letter drew a stern response from one of the nation's largest for-profit providers of post-secondary education, Devry, Inc., which is based in Durbin's home state of Illinois. Devry stated in its own public statement that it had successfully educated tens of thousands of students in Illinois, including a number who participated in a program that allows high school students to earn associate's degree credits while still enrolled in high school.