Under the Trump administration, the Education Department gave $10.7 million to for-profit colleges that should not have received aid. The aid, which included federal loans and grants, was given to students at the Illinois Institute of Art and the Art Institute of Colorado — even though these schools are supposed to be ineligible for aid and officials knew that, according to The Washington Post.
Those schools were closed because Dream Center Education Holdings, owner of the Art Institutes and Argosy University, lied to students about the schools’ true accreditation. Now, politicians are accusing officials of trying to hide the fact that they allowed millions of dollars to flow to those schools.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has received subpoena threats from Senate representatives to see what more documents can show in relation to the department’s involvement with the Dream Center.
“We’ve known for a long time that the Art Institutes lied to students about losing accreditation. Now, we know that the Department of Education misled them, too,” Eric Rothschild, an attorney at the National Student Legal Defense Network who is representing students suing DeVos and the Education Department, told the Post.
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For-profit colleges should not receive federal aid unless they are fully accredited, according to the law. Dream Center schools, including the Art Institute of Colorado, the Art Institute of Michigan or the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago and Schaumburg, did not have approval from the Higher Learning Commission for the Spring 2018 semester. In fact, the quality of the education there was so bad their status was downgraded for up to four years, the Washington Post reported.
But that did not stop the Education Department from giving money to the schools and allowing the company to start the process of turning its institutions into nonprofits.
“The grant of temporary nonprofit status was directed at what had at that time, been a five-month lapse in eligibility, and five months where Dream Center was receiving funds in violation of [the Higher Education Act] and accompanying regulations,” Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), chairman of the House Education Committee, wrote in a letter Tuesday to DeVos. “This special treatment allowed more students to become entangled in Dream Center, magnifying the abrupt closure of the schools and the displacement of thousands of students.”