Tuesday, September 20, 2016

ITT Tech files for bankruptcy, leaving more than 35,000 students in the lurch. 23 Democrat Senators ask the Department of Education to give ITT students special assistance

ITT Educational Services, a for-profit corporation operating more than 130 vocational and technical training schools, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month. The Department of Education shut off student aid money to ITT in late August, and the corporation quickly collapsed.

ITT's bankruptcy left  about 35,000 students in the lurch.  Most of them took out federal student loans to pay ITT's extraordinarily high tuition, and none of them will be able to complete their studies. DOE Secretary John King sent a message to these students telling them they had just two options: transfer their credits to other institutions or file for loan forgiveness under DOE's "closed school"forgiveness regulations.

On September 15, 23 Democratic Senators sent Secretary King a letter asking DOE to grant ITT's former students special assistance. The letter is slightly incoherent, which is understandable given the fact that 23 politicians had to agree on the text. Nevertheless, the Senators articulated several specific requests for relief.

Extending the eligibility guidelines for total student-debt relief for ITT's former students. First, the Senators want DOE to loosen the eligibility requirements for ITT students who file for total loan forgiveness under DOE's "closed school" relief regulations.  Under current DOE guidelines, ITT's former students can apply for debt relief under DOE's "closed school" procedures if they were enrolled at ITT at the time it closed or withdrew from ITT up to 120 days prior to closure.

The Democrats asked Secretary King to expand the 120-day window to a little more than two years. If King grants this request, any student who withdrew from ITT on or after March 1, 2014 will qualify to have their ITT student loans forgiven under DOE's "closed school" discharge process.

Preservation of ITT's student records. The Senators also asked DOE to preserve all of ITT's documents and records that might be relevant to an ongoing investigation of ITT's  activities or that could be helpful to students seeking to get their loans discharged..

Explore legal authority to automatically discharge ITT students' federal loans.  Finally, the Senators urged DOE to determine its authority to automatically discharge student loans of ITT    students and to consider discharging loans of all students who don't transfer their ITT credits to another institution within three years and who are otherwise eligible for a "closed school" discharge.

All these recommendations are commendable but they are far too timid. After all, as the Senators attested in their letter, DOE shut off ITT's funding based on serious concerns about "ITT Tech's deceptive practices, dubious educational quality, and financial integrity."

As reported in Bloomberg News, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued ITT for fraud in 2015, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued the company in in 2014, "accusing it of overstating students' job prospects and potential salaries and then pushing them into high-cost private loans that were likely to default." Both suits are still pending.

ITT has enrolled thousands of students over the years. Many of these students--my guess is most of them--received little or no economic benefit for their ITT tuition dollars.

I'm sure ITT can point to some students who completed their ITT studies and found good paying jobs, but I think for every success story  there is surely one or more students who  got no economic benefit from their ITT studies and wound up heavily in debt.

One thing is certain. The for-profit college industry is imploding, and DOE needs a comprehensive process for assisting students who attended one of the collapsing for-profit schools.  Several years ago, Professor Robert C. Cloud and I proposed a change in the Bankruptcy Code that would allow anyone who accumulated student-loan debt from attending a for-profit college and who is insolvent to receive a bankruptcy discharge of student-loan debt without having to show "undue hardship."

In other words, we argued that student debt acquired to attend a for-profit college should be treated like any other unsecured debt, which would make it readily dischargeable in bankruptcy. In my view, this proposal makes more sense than for DOE to deal with each collapsing for-profit college on an ad hoc basis.

Let's see if our U.S. Senators have the courage to offer broader relief for for-profit college students than the tepid proposals contained in the Democratic Senators' recent letter.


References


Richard Fossey, Robert C. Cloud, R. (2011). From the cone of uncertainty to the dirty side of the storm: A proposal to provide student-loan debtors who attended for-profit colleges with reasonable access to the bankruptcy courts. Education Law Reporter, 272, 1-18.

Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. A Message from the Secretary of Education to ITT Students. Accessible at http://blog.ed.gov/2016/09/message-secretary-education-itt-students/

Letter to the Honorable John King, Secretary of Education, from 23 Democratic Senators, September 15,2016. https://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/files/9_15_16%20ITT%20Tech%20ED%20Letter%20(1).pdf

Dawn McCarty and Shahien Nasirpour. ITT Educational Services Files for Bankruptcy After Shutdown. Bloomberg, September 16, 2016. Accessible at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-16/itt-educational-services-files-for-bankruptcy-after-shutdown-it6byu6t

Reuters. ITT Educational Services Files for Bankruptcy After Aid Crackdown. International New York Times, September 17, 2016. Accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/business/itt-educational-services-files-for-bankruptcy-after-aid-crackdown.html?_r=0

Friday, September 16, 2016

Tax Consequences for Student-Loan Borrowers in Income-Based Repayment Plans: Insanity

The student loan crisis grows worse with each passing day. As the Wall Street Journal noted recently, total student-loan indebtedness is more than five times what it was just 20 years ago, and one out of four borrowers is behind on repayment or in default.

But American universities survive on federal student aid money; they are like addicts waiting on their next fix. Tuition rates continue to go up: Yale announced a tuition hike to nearly $50,000 a year!

The Obama administration knows the student loan program is out of control, but the only thing it can think of to do is roll out income-based repayment plans (IBRPs) that stretch borrowers' payments out for 20 or 25 years.  More than 5 million people are in these plans now, and the Department of Education wants 7 million in them by the end of next year. I think there will be 10 million people in these plans by the end of 2018.

IBRPs reduce borrowers' monthly payments because borrowers' payment terms are based on a percentage of their income--not the amount they borrowed. In Obama's latest two IBRP plans--PAYE and REPAYE--borrowers pay 10 percent of their adjusted gross income for 20 years.

But this is insanity. For most borrowers in PAYE and REPAYE, monthly payments are not large enough to cover accruing interest, and total indebtedness actually grows larger over the years as  accruing interest gets added to the amount that was originally borrowed.

It is true that borrowers who faithfully make loan payments for 20 years will have the remaining loan balance forgiven, but the amount of forgiven debt is considered taxable income by the IRS.  In fact, a Wall Street Journal article advised borrowers to start saving their money to pay the tax bill they will receive when they finish paying off their loans.

Alan Moore, a financial planner who was quoted n the WSJ, made this chilling observation: "If you don't save enough money for the tax bill, all you are accomplishing is swapping your student-loan debt for a debt to the IRS." Moore advised student-loan borrowers to open a segregated account to save for their eventual tax bill and not to invest that money too aggressively due to the risk of a bear market.

Higher Education insiders chant the mantra that people who get college degrees make more money than people who don't go to college. But that is not true for everyone. And that trite observation does not justify forcing millions of people into 20- and 25-year repayment plans that terminate with big tax bills that come due just about the time most Americans hope to retire.

References  

Anne Tergesen. Six Common Mistakes People Make With Their Student Loans. Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2016. Accessible at http://www.wsj.com/articles/six-common-mistakes-people-make-with-their-student-loans-1473645782

Yale Financial Aid Budget Will Meet Term Bill Increase. Yale News, March 9, 2016. Accessible at http://news.yale.edu/2016/03/09/yale-financial-aid-budget-will-meet-term-bill-increase

Thursday, September 15, 2016

ITT Tech's former students announce a strike against student loan payments: Who will notice?

Several years ago, U.S. Post Office workers threatened to strike, but the public didn't care. I recall a cartoon with two images: The first image depicted a sleeping Post Office employee covered with cobwebs and was labeled "Post Office Employee at Work." The second image, which depicted the same sleeping Post Office worker, was labeled "Post Office Worker on Strike."

The cartoon's message was clear. If Post Office employees went on strike and refused to deliver the mail, no one would notice.

I think ITT Technical Institute's former students will get a similar ho-hum reaction to their announcement that they are on strike and refusing to make their student-loan payments. Who will notice?

After all, almost 50 percent of students who took out student loans to attend a for-profit college default on those loans within five years of beginning repayment. Some former for-profit students are making loan payments under income-contingent repayment plans, but most of these borrowers are making payments so small that they aren't even paying off their loans' accruing interest.

So a student-loan strike, like a postal worker strike, is basically a non-event.

That is not to say that ITT Tech's former students don't have real grievances. ITT has more than 40,000 students on 130 campuses. When  it closes tomorrow, all of ITT's students will be left in the lurch. Who can blame them for refusing to make payments on their student loans?

Students who are enrolled at ITT at the time it closes are eligible for  a "closed school" discharge of their federal student loans. According to Inside Higher Ed, about a thousand ITT students have applied for a "closed school" discharge. But why should they be forced into an administrative process to get their loans forgiven? Why doesn't the Department of Education simply forgive the loans of everyone who was enrolled at ITT at the time of its closure or who withdrew from their ITT studies within the last six months?

And, as I've said before, why doesn't DOE admit that a high percentage of the people who enrolled at ITT over the years did not get good value for their tuition dollars and forgive the student loans of all ITT's former students?

That would be a fair thing to do but damned expensive. That's why most of ITT's former students will be on the hook for their student-loan obligations even if their ITT studies were a complete waste of their time.

Image result for student loan debt strike



References

Ashley Smith. ITT Tech Students Launch Debt Strike. Inside Higher Ed, September 15, 2016. Accessible at https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2016/09/15/itt-tech-students-launch-debt-strike?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=c72eec25d2-DNU20160915&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-c72eec25d2-198565653&mc_cid=c72eec25d2&mc_eid=1b70c08403

Ashley Smith. The End for ITT Tech. Insider Higher Ed. September 7, 2016. Accessible at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/09/07/itt-tech-shuts-down-all-campuses

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Department of Education shuts down ITT Tech: No lifeboats for ITT's former students

In one of Patrick O'Brian's novels on life in the 19th century British Navy, a British fleet attacks a flotilla of Barbary pirates, who are in armed galleys rowed by Christian slaves. A British ship sails into the galleys at full speed, ramming one galley and cutting it in half.

The galley slaves are chained to their oars and cry out for help as their galley begins to sink. But the British ship sails on, leaving the slaves to drown. One of the British officers is so upset by the incident that he commits suicide.

Which brings me to the Department of Education's recent decision to cut off federal student-aid funding for all students enrolled on the campuses of ITT Educational Services. ITT had been subjected to a number of state and federal investigations, but DOE's decision to shut off the spigot of federal money was a death sentence for ITT. Within a few days after DOE's action, ITT shut its doors.

If all the allegations against ITT are true, this for-profit institution deserved to be shut down. But what about ITT's 45,000 current students, most of whom took out loans to pay their ITT tuition? What about the thousands of former ITT students who are trying to pay back their student loans? Will DOE offer these poor folks any relief?

Apparently not. DOE Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., issued a letter to ITT students offering them two options, which I quote:
1. If you are currently or were recently enrolled at ITT, you may be eligible to have your federal student loans for your program at ITT discharged. Your federal loan debt will be wiped away and you will have the option of restarting your education somewhere new. . . .
2. If you wish to continue to complete your program at a different school--especially if you are close to graduating--you may be eligible to transfer your credits. It is important to note that transferring your credits may limit your ability to have your federal loans discharged. Closed school discharge may be an option if you enroll in a different program that does not accept your ITT credits.
In short, King gave ITT students two choices: Current ITT students or students who recently withdrew from ITT (within 120 days before ITT closed) can apply to have their loans discharged. Other students can try to transfer their ITT credits to other institutions, which may or may not accept them.

In my view, King's letter is very much like sinking a pirate galley and allowing the poor galley slaves to drown.

Let's face facts. Most of the students who attended for-profit colleges got a substandard educational experience. Many former students claim to be victims of high-pressure recruiting tactics and misrepresentations about the quality of the programs that were offered. Almost half of a recent cohort of for-profit college students defaulted on their loans within 5 years of beginning repayment. All the problems in the for-profit college sector were plainly laid out in Senator Tom Harkin's Senate Committee report that was released several years ago.

The for-profit college sector is collapsing. Corinthian Colleges filed for bankruptcy, University of Phoenix has seen its enrollments drop by half, Stock prices in the for-profit college industry have plummeted.

There is only one fair thing for DOE to do. All students who attended a for-profit college that closed or has been found guilty of widespread fraud or misrepresentation should have their student loans discharged. I repeat--all students. And these discharges should be administered en masse without requiring for-profit students to go through a burdensome administrative process.

This won't happen of course, because releasing  for-profit college students from their student loans would cost the federal government tens of billions of dollars. But again I say, let's face facts. Most of these students were ripped off by the for-profit college industry and most will never pay back their loans anyway.

But Secretary King prefers to behave like the nineteenth century British Navy. DOE is sinking the bad guys but allowing innocent victims to drown, chained down like galley slaves by massive student-loan debt.




References

Patrick Gillespie. University of Phoenix has lost half its students. CNN Money, March 25, 2015. Accessible at http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/25/investing/university-of-phoenix-apollo-earnings-tank/

Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. A Message from the Secretary of Education to ITT Students. Accessible at http://blog.ed.gov/2016/09/message-secretary-education-itt-students/

Brian Stoffel.  Stocks to Watch in For-Profit Colleges. Motley Fool, June 9, 2015. Accessible at http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/06/09/stocks-to-watch-in-for-profit-colleges.aspx

United States Department of Education. Increased Oversight of ITT and the Impact on Students.  Accessible at http://blog.ed.gov/2016/08/increased-oversight-of-itt-and-the-impact-on-students/

United States Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee. For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success. July 2012. Accessible at: http://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/for_profit_report/PartI.pdf

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

New Jersey Supreme Court strikes down an arbitration clause in Sanford Brown Institute's student-enrollment agreements: Another nail in the coffin for the for-profit college industry (Morgan v. Sanford Brown Institute)

Almost all for-profit colleges require their students to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of enrollment. In essence, students who sign arbitration agreements give up their right to sue the college they attend, even if they believe they have been victims of fraud or deceptive business practices.

Why do the for-profit colleges insist that students arbitrate their grievances instead of filing a lawsuit?  Several reasons.

First, most commentators agree that arbitration generally favors a corporate entity over a private party. Arbitrators make good money settling disputes, and they know they are likely to have future dealings with corporations such as for-profit colleges. Arbitrators do not want to get a reputation for being hard on for-profit colleges because they know that the for-profits will not choose them to arbitrate future disputes. Thus, their rulings may be more likely to favor a for-profit college over a humble student or at least to limit the amount of damages that might get awarded against a college engaged in wrongdoing.

Second, arbitration usually takes place in a private setting, and arbitrators' decisions are generally not made public. If a for-profit college loses an arbitration case, other potential plaintiffs are not likely to find out about it.

Finally, arbitration clauses generally preclude students from banding together and bringing class action suits against allegedly deceitful colleges, and these clauses often require student grievants to bring their arbitration disputes in a jurisdiction that favors the college.

The Department of Education has signaled that it disfavors the for-profits' practice of forcing students to give up their right to sue as a condition of enrollment, and it says it will draft regulations that will limit this practice. But DOE has not acted yet, and courts have generally upheld the validity of arbitration agreements when those clauses have been challenged.

But the courts may be changing their views. Recently, a California appellate court invalidated an arbitration clause signed by California students who had enrolled in a nursing program with an Indiana education provider.

And last June, in the case of Morgan v. Sanford Brown Institute, the New Jersey Supreme Court invalidated an arbitration clause that Sanford Brown Institute required students to sign. The students had enrolled in an ultrasound technician program, and they accused Sanford Brown of engaging in deceptive practices. Specifically, the students alleged that Sanford Brown had:
misrepresented the value of the school's ultrasound program and the quality of its instructors, instructed students on outdated equipment and with inadequate teaching materials, provided insufficient career-service counseling, and conveyed inaccurate information about Sanford brown's accreditation status.
The students also claimed that Sanford Brown had "employed high-pressure and deceptive business tactics that resulted in plaintiffs financing their education with high-interest loans, passing up the study of ultrasound at a reputable college, and losing career advancement opportunities."

 Sanford Brown asked a a New Jersey court to force the students to arbitrate their claims pursuant to the arbitration clause in the students' enrollment agreements. That clause, according to the New Jersey Supreme Court, consisted of "thirty-five unbroken lines of nine-point Times New Roman font, including this murky passage:
Agreement to Arbitrate--Any disputes, claims, or controversies between the parties to this Enrollment Agreement arising out of or relating to (i) this Enrollment Agreement; (ii) the Student's recruitment, enrollment, attendance, or education; (iii) financial aid or career service assistance by SBI; (iv) any claim, no matter how described, pleaded or styled, relating in any manner, to any act or omission regarding the Student's relationship with SBI, it employees, or with externship sites or their employees; or (v) any objection to arbitrability or the existence, scope, validity, construction, or enforceability of this Arbitration Agreement shall be resolved pursuant to this paragraph . . . . 
Ultimately, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in the case, and the court invalidated Sanford Brown's arbitration clause. In the court's view, the clause was not "written in plain language that would be clear and understandable to the average consumer that she is giving up the right to pursue relief in a judicial forum" [internal quotation marks and citations omitted].

"In summary," the court concluded, "the arbitration provision and purported delegation clause in Sanford Brown's enrollment agreement failed to explain in some sufficiently broad way or otherwise that that arbitration was a substitute for having disputes and legal claims resolved before a judge or jury." Without some minimal knowledge of the meaning of arbitration, the court ruled, the complaining students could not give informed assent to arbitration and to waiving their right to seek relief in a court.

The New Jersey Supreme Court's Morgan decision is a good decision for all students who have been wronged by a for-profit college. Following on the heels of a similar decision in California, the Morgan opinion drives another nail in the coffin of the for-profit college industry, which has protected itself from liability for deceptive and fraudulent practices by forcing their students to waive their right to sue. In New Jersey and California at least, students now have a better chance of getting their claims against allegedly deceptive for-profit colleges heard by a court. And if students are successful in their  cases and obtain substantial judgments against the colleges that wronged them, some of these colleges will be forced to close.

And that, in my opinion, would be a good development.

References

Magno v. The College Network, Inc.. (Cal. Ct. App. 2016). Accessible at http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ca-court-of-appeal/1741812.html

Morgan v. Sanford Brown Institute, 137 A.3d 1168 (N.J. 2016). Accessible at http://law.justia.com/cases/new-jersey/supreme-court/2016/a-31-14.html

U.S. Department of Education. U.S. Department of Education Takes Further Steps to Protect Students from Predatory Higher Education Institutions. March 11, 2016. Accessible at http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-takes-further-steps-protect-students-predatory-higher-education-institutions?







Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Quantitative Easing and the Student-Loan Crisis: The Government Loans Money to Students Who Don't Have a Prayer of Paying It Back

Investipedia defines quantitative easing as the process of increasing the money supply "by flooding financial institutions with capital in an effort to promote increased lending and liquidity."  Or more simply--quantitative easing is printing new money.

The Obama administration has done a lot of quantitative easing. At the height of its QE program, the government was pumping a trillion bucks a year into the economy. But there is another type of quantitative easing that is less well known. The government has been loaning billions of dollars to students under the federal student loan program, and it is only getting about half that money back. 

Who benefits? The higher education industry has gotten this money, including the stock holders and equity funds that own private colleges and universities.  

Conner v. U.S. Department of Education, a recent federal court decision, illustrates how QE works in the education sector. Patricia Conner, a Michigan school teacher, took out 26 separate student loans over a period of 14 years to pursue graduate education in three fields: education, business administration, and communications. By the time she filed for bankruptcy at age 61, she had accumulated over $214,000 in student-loan debt. According to the bankruptcy court, Conner did not make a single voluntary payment on any of her loans.

In the bankruptcy court, Conner argued that her debt should be discharged under the Bankruptcy Code's "undue hardship" standard, citing her advanced age as a factor that should weigh in her favor. 

But a Michigan bankruptcy court refused to release Conner from her debt, and a federal district court upheld the bankruptcy court's opinion on appeal. The district court  ruled that Conner's age could not be a consideration since she borrowed the money in midlife knowing she would have to pay it back. The court also indicated that Conner should enroll in an income-based repayment plan (IBRP) that the government had offered her, which would obligate her to pay only $267 a month on her massive debt. The court did not say how long she would be obligated to make payments under an IBRP, but these plans generally stretch out for at least 20 years.

Let's assume Conner signs up for an income-based repayment plan and begins paying $267 a month on her $214,000 debt. Let's also assume, that the interest rate on this debt is 6 percent. At 6 percent,  interest on $214,000 amounts to more than $12,000 a year, but Conner will only be paying about $3,200 a year toward paying off her student loans.

This means Conner's debt will be negatively amortizing--getting larger every year instead of smaller. After making payments for one year under her IBRP, Conner will owe $223,000. After the second year, she will owe around $233,000. After three years, Conner's debt will have grown to about a quarter of a million dollars, even if she faithfully makes every monthly loan payment.

Obviously, by the time Conner's IBRP comes to a conclusion in 20 or 25 years, she will owe substantially more than she borrowed, and she will be over 80 years old. In short, the government will never get back the money it loaned to Ms. Conner.

Who benefited from this arrangement? Wayne State University, where Conner took all her graduate-level classes, got most of Conner's loan money, which it used to pay its instructors and administrators.  But what did Wayne State provide Conner for all this cash? Apparently not much because Conner is still a school teacher, which is what she would have been even if she hadn't borrowed all that money to go to graduate school.

In my view, the Conner story is an illustration of QE in the higher education sector. The federal government is pumping billions of dollars a year into the corrupt and mismanaged higher education industry, and it is getting only about half of it back. Moreover, in far too many cases, the students who are borrowing all this money aren't getting much in value.

How long can this go on?  I don't know, but it can't go on forever.

Image result for "quantitative easing"


Note: I am indebted to my friend Richard Precht for pointing out the relevancy of Quantitative Easing to the student loan crisis.

References

Conner v. U.S. States Department of Education, Case No. 15-1-541, 2016 WL 1178264 (E.D. Mich. March 28, 2016).

Monday, August 29, 2016

ITT Tech is teetering on the brink of collapse due to pressure from the U.S. Department of Education: Why did DOE wait so long to aggressively regulate the for-profit college industry?

ITT Educational Services, owner of ITT Technical Institute, is on the verge of collapse. A few days ago, the U.S. Department of Education issued a directive barring ITT from enrolling any students who rely on federal financial aid to pay their tuition.

DOE's recent action may be the coup de grĂ¢ce for this tottering for-profit chain of technical schools. ITT gets 80 percent of its revenues from federal student aid monies.  Now that DOE has turned off the spigot of federal funds, ITT's days are numbered. In fact, if you want to measure ITT's pulse, just look at its stock price.   The company's stock was trading today at about 51 cents a share. In 2009, the stock sold at more than 200 times today's price--$128!

Shahien Nasiripour, a Bloomberg reporter, argued recently that the Department of Education does not know what it is doing when it comes to regulating for-profit colleges. Nasiripour wrote that DOE bungled the regulation of Corinthian Colleges and was surprised when the college chain filed for bankruptcy, leaving thousands of students in the lurch.   Nasiripour quoted an observer who said that "[t]he Education Department hasn't been a good analyst of corporate balance sheets."

Now, Nasiripour maintains, DOE is repeating its mistake with ITT and may "unwittingly exacerbate ITT's financial woes."

I disagree with Nasiripour. I think DOE knows exactly what it is doing to ITT and is fully mindful that its recent regulatory actions will likely drive ITT out of business. DOE surely knows that cutting ITT off from federal student aid money will shut off most of its revenues. And not long ago, DOE ordered ITT to almost double its cash reserves--from $124 million to $247 million, which ITT almost certainly is unable to do.

Why is the Obama's DOE acting so aggressively against the for-profit college industry now that Obama has less than three months left in his final term? Is DOE moving against the for-profits now because Obama no longer cares about the political consequences of cracking down on a powerful industry?

Or is DOE pressuring the for-profits to drive down their stock prices so that friendly investors can snap them up for a song and make a killing? Martin Nesbitt, a close confidant of Barack Obama, is leading a group of equity funds to purchase Apollo Education Group, the University of Phoenix's owner. If the deal goes through, Nesbitt's partners will only pay around $9 a share for the stock--about a tenth of Apollo's all-time-high share price.

If ITT gets bought up by financial vultures, it will be interesting to see if the new owners have ties to the Obama administration.

But let's give Obama's DOE the benefit of the doubt and assume that it is finally doing what it should have done a long time ago, which is aggressively regulate the for-profit industry in order to protect students from disreputable operators.

But DOE officials should remember that shutting down reputedly shady for-profit colleges is only half the job.  Corinthian Colleges had about 300,000 former students at the time it filed for bankruptcy and most of them took out federal student loans. All those people should have their student loans forgiven.

If DOE shuts down ITT--which it is apparently trying to do with its recent regulatory actions, it needs to provide relief for all of ITT's indebted students--both current enrollees and former students.

If  ITT closes and DOE forces all these hapless student-loan debtors into a tedious administrative process in order to get their student loans forgiven, then we will know that the Obama administration doesn't really care about the students who attended for-profit colleges.  Rather, knowingly or unknowingly, DOE may simply be driving down the value of for-profit colleges in a way that allows new investors to swoop down and scoop them up at bargain prices.

References

Shahien Nasiripour. The Obama Administration Could Cause the Next Big For-Profit College Collapsehttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-09/the-obama-administration-could-cause-the-next-big-for-profit-college-collapse. Bloomberg.com, June 9, 2016.  Accessible at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-06-09/the-obama-administration-could-cause-the-next-big-for-profit-college-collapse

Josh Mitchell. Education Department Orders ITT Educational to Bolster Finances. Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2016. Accessible at http://www.wsj.com/articles/education-department-orders-itt-educational-to-bolster-finances-1465246531

Mark Muckenfuss. New Sanctions Against ITT Tech will limit enrollment. Press Enterprise, August 26, 2016.  Acessible at http://www.pe.com/articles/students-811674-itt-school.html