"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

From Keiser U to Grand Canyon U: Seeking Billions More as Non-Profit Schemes

I have often made the point that there is no real difference between for-profit charter schools and non-profit charter schools--there are only different routes to getting the same public money into the same private pockets.  

Now it is clear that for-profit colleges have come to a similar conclusion, and with the Feds all aflutter about for-profit higher ed predators, these thieves are simply altering course into the non-profit schemes.  

As you can see, here, too, the public money ends up in the same private pockets, tax-sheltered. 

A clip from the NYTimes:
After a recent government crackdown on the multibillion-dollar career-training industry, stricter limits on student aid and devastating publicity about students hobbled by debt and useless credentials, some for-profit schools simply shut down.

But a few others have moved to drop out of the for-profit business altogether, in favor of a more traditional approach to running a higher education institution.

And the nonprofit sector, it turns out, can still be quite profitable.

Consider Keiser University in Florida. In 2011, the Keiser family, the school’s founder and owner, sold it to a tiny nonprofit called Everglades College, which it had created.

As president of Everglades, Arthur Keiser earned a salary of nearly $856,000, more than his counterpart at Harvard, according to the college’s 2012 tax return, the most recent publicly available. He is receiving payments and interest on more than $321 million he lent the tax-exempt nonprofit so that it could buy his university.

And he has an ownership interest in properties that the college pays $14.6 million in rent for, as well as a stake in the charter airplane that the college’s managers fly in and the Holiday Inn where its employees stay, the returns show. A family member also has an ownership interest in the computer company the college uses.

Keiser University, which has about 20,000 students spread over 15 campuses, is one of a handful of for-profit colleges that have switched to the nonprofit arena or are considering that move.

The shift means more restrictions on moneymaking ventures and loss of ownership. But nonprofit schools — defined as providing a public benefit — do not have to pay taxes, are eligible for certain state grants and can receive more money from the federal student loan program.

Consumer advocates and legal experts warn that some institutions might be shifting primarily to avoid stepped-up government scrutiny and regulation. Moreover, said Lloyd Mayer, an associate dean and law professor at Notre Dame Law School: “There is a concern that the now-nonprofit colleges may be providing an impermissible private benefit to their former owners. These sorts of arrangements raise yellow flags.” . . .

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