Romney puts a whole new spin on the the term "BS Degree":
At a town-hall-style meeting in New Hampshire last month, listeners pressed Mitt Romney on the soaring cost of higher education. His solution: students should consider for-profit colleges like the little-known Full Sail University in Florida.
So enthralled he is with this bastion of higher learning, he's mentioned it twice on the campaign trail. But he's left out some minor details:
Mr. Romney did not mention the cost of tuition at Full Sail, which runs more than $80,000, for example, for a 21-month program in “video game art.”
Nor did he mention its spotty graduation rate. Or, for that matter, that its chief executive, Bill Heavener, is a major campaign donor and a co-chairman of his state fund-raising team in Florida
This is Crony Capitalism at its worst. As front-paged in today's New York Times, Heavener has personally donated $45,000 to the SuperPAC run by Romney's "former" campaign operatives, adding to the substantial amounts Romney is receiving from a "For Profit" College Diploma mill industry that specializes mostly in preying on disadvantaged minorities whose educational options are otherwise limited, providing them with often worthless degrees at exorbitant cost. The Chairman of the private equity fund that runs Full Sail donated another cool $40,000 to the same SuperPAC.
The school has its share of success stories, as noted in the article. With 15,000 students I suppose you could expect someone might actually land a job as a roadie for Madonna upon graduation. Touting this as a solution to unaffordable higher education costs, however, is simply crass. The average graduate of the "video game art" program, for example, is saddled with $59,000 debt assuming he or she is among the 14% who the school graduates.
Full Sail has generally been regarded more highly than many other institutions in the for-profit college industry as a whole, which has been the target of withering criticism in the last few years in the wake of federal investigations into fraudulent marketing practices, poor academic records and huge loans assumed by students ill-prepared for the expensive programs.
Still, the school has attracted its share of criticism on Internet discussion boards and YouTube postings from its own students and alumni, with some alumni even deriding it as a “scam” because of what they described as high tuition, inadequate career training and difficulties in transferring credits to other schools.
At least we know the type of folks Romney would appoint to oversee the Department Of Education:
Among other for-profit college executives who are supporting Mr. Romney, Todd S. Nelson, chief executive at the Education Management Corporation, also gave the campaign $2,500. His company is the target of an $11 billion Justice Department lawsuit over accusations of fraudulent marketing and recruiting practices.
The article quotes David Halperin, an activist who ran Campus Progress, an advocacy group for students, who rightly expresses his "mystification" as to how a school with a 14% on-time graduation rate can possibly be held up as a model for higher education.
And of course the "mystery" gets no clearer when the pricipals of Full Sail are pressed for comment:
Mr. Heavener, the Full Sail chief executive, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. An assistant said he was traveling and was not available.
Mr. Landry, the chairman of TA Associates, the Boston private equity company that owns Full Sail, said in an e-mail that he “had no idea” where Mr. Romney stood on for-profit colleges when he donated the $40,000 to the super PAC supporting his candidacy and that his financial support was based on other factors.
And if you believe that, I've got a Degree to sell you...
OR, You can Donate to President Obama's campaign here instead.