Schooling the Clintons: Our view–47jh. b43
For-profit Laureate university network paid $17.6 million to Bill Clinton.
On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton is a big critic of for-profit universities, attacking them for charging high prices but offering students little support and delivering degrees of questionable value. Her administration, she says, would crack down “on for-profit colleges and loan servicers who have too often taken advantage of borrowers.”
What Clinton doesn’t mention are her close family connections to for-profit Laureate Education and the hefty $9.8 billion in loans accumulated just by students at Laureate’s Walden University in Minnesota. That’s the second most loans of any U.S. college, trailing only the University of Phoenix, according to a Brookings Institution study last year.
If Clinton wonders why so many voters consider her to be graspy and question her trustworthiness, she need look no further than the tangled, lucrative ties among Laureate, its owners, the Clinton family and the Clinton Foundation.
From 2010 until just two weeks before Clinton launched her presidential campaign last year, the private company paid Bill Clinton $17.6 million as the honorary chancellor, a job that involved offering advice to Laureate executives and speaking to students at some of the school’s dozens of campuses around the world. Nice work if you can get it.
In addition, since 2007, Laureate and its major investors and financiers — including Goldman Sachs, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., SAC Capital and CitiGroup Private Equity — have showered millions more in donations on the Clinton Foundation, Clinton’s two presidential campaigns and related organizations, as well as speaking fees to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, including $900,000 from Goldman and KKR for four appearances by Hillary Clinton in 2013 alone.
Having a former president, and spouse of a sitting secretary of State, become Laureate’s public face burnished its reputation as it went on a debt-fueled global buying spree, snapping up dozens of colleges from Latin America to Asia. And having muscular contacts among the global foreign policy elite is helpful in fending off more government regulation in the nearly 30 countries where Baltimore-based Laureate operates.
Robert Zoellick, a former World Bank president and deputy secretary of State, is on the board, and George W. Bush’s secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, is a paid adviser to Laureate who has given speeches on its campuses as far away as China. When Clinton stepped down, Laureate replaced him with a former president of Mexico.
Even as Laureate, which has had net losses totaling $563.4 million in its past three fiscal years and $102.4 million in the first quarter of this year, presents itself as a “public benefit corporation” — a hybrid of profit-seeking capitalism and high-minded do-gooderism — some of its business practices dance close to ethical red lines.
Outside the USA, for example, Laureate pays recruiters legal “commissions” for getting students to enroll in its schools — a practice Congress banned in the U.S. because it encouraged for-profit schools to enroll students and harvest their loan money with little regard to whether they graduated and were able to pay back their loans.
At Walden, Laureate’s largest American campus, loan default rates are lower than the national average. But according to the U.S. Department of Education, three years after undergraduates leave Walden, 56% have yet to repay a single dollar on their loans compared with 33% nationwide.
source-edotproa; board. usa today,