Durbin Calls on College and University Heads to Be ‘Better Stewards of Taxpayer Dollars”

WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–February 2, 2011.  U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) yesterday called on the leaders of over 300 colleges and universities to become ‘better stewards of taxpayer dollars’ by doing more to ensure those investments are matched with student achievement. Durbin called on schools to make certain students are completing degrees and gaining useful knowledge, not just piling up mountains of student loan debt.

“I’m here to tell you that you cannot afford to stand on the sidelines of this conversation anymore,” said Durbin.  “You cannot come to Congress to ask for more funding for Pell grants while looking the other way as billions of dollars of our current investment are wasted.  And I’m not just talking about low-performing for-profit colleges.  There are public colleges and private non-profit colleges that are also failing their students.  It is time for a serious conversation about the cost and quality of our higher education system.”

For-profit colleges receive an average of 77% of their revenue from federal loans and grants – more than 90% if funds from the new GI Bill and other military tuition programs are included.  Last year, the top three recipients of federal student aid – the University of Phoenix, DeVry and Kaplan University – were all for-profit colleges.  While, for-profit colleges make up less than 10 percent of college students, they account for 44% of federal student loans defaults.

Durbin, a member of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also echoed President Obama’s call in his State of the Union Address for continued investment in education.

“We can’t simply cut our way to fiscal strength,” said Durbin.  “We need to cut and invest, especially in research and education.  And we need to invest wisely.  We have a chance to come out of this recession with a better educated workforce than we had at the start of the recession.  That is the best possible driver of economic growth.”