Board Regulating For-Profit Colleges Opposes Plan To Change Oversight Structure

DATCP Would Take Over Responsibilities Of 5-Member Educational Approval Board

Karen Eckberg (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to change the way the state regulates for-profit private colleges faces strong opposition from the members of the state board that currently oversees such institutions.

At its meeting on Friday, the five-member Educational Approval Board voted to oppose the governor’s plan to turn their job over to the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. Board Chairman Don Madelung said the change won’t save the state any money, since the board’s $600,000 budget is covered by fees the colleges pay to be certified by the state. Madelung also said DATCAP doesn’t have the expertise to handle the complaints the board deals with when colleges close and students seek tuition reimbursement.

“We’ve got a litany and a history of where we’ve interceded on school’s behalves, student’s behalves, and I’m afraid that’s going to go out with the baby and the bath water, and I’m sad to see that happen,” said Madelung.

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Walker said the current system is overly burdensome for colleges that are providing students with needed job skills.

For-profit colleges like Globe and Phoenix International currently pay the EAB approximately $2 for every thousand dollars of revenue the college earns in tuition. Madelung was the president of the for-profit Herzing University for 20 years. He said he never liked writing the check to EAB on behalf of the college, but said that he saw it as the cost of doing business.

He said he doesn’t believe most colleges support having DATCP take over the role of the EAB. The more-than 250 schools the Board currently regulates generated a total of about $351 million last year.

The board handles about 50 complaints from students each year. Only a small percentage of those result in investigations that lead to legal action against the colleges.