With Christmas and New Years fast approaching, we are about to take our two-week winter publishing break. But before we go, we’ve decided to highlight our most popular posts of the past year. Half of them deal with the raging debate in Washington over for-profit higher education. The others focus on issues we have long covered: student loan reform, predatory private student loan practices, and the 9.5 student loan scandal. And of course, topping the list is a perennial reader favorite, our annual Academic Bowl Championship Series rankings, which we published just last week.
So without further ado, here are our top 10 best-read posts of 2010:
1. Fourth Annual Academic Bowl Championship Series Rankings, Dec. 1
For the fourth year in a row, we published our rankings of how college football teams would stack up if academic success determined a team’s Bowl Championship Series standing. And for the fourth year in the row, this post led the pack in terms of readership.
2. Breaking News: A Key Witness at Senate Hearing Will Reveal How For-Profit Colleges Cook the Books on Job Placements, Sept. 28
Higher Ed Watch broke the news that a career counselor at Education Management Corporation, who had accused her company of improperly inflating its official job placement numbers, had been called to be a key witness at a Senate hearing examining allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse in the for-profit higher education sector.
3. Exclusive: Manufacturing Dissent at the Education Management Corporation, Aug. 31
In this post, we revealed the extraordinary lengths the country’s second largest for-profit higher education company was going to mobilize its faculty and staff to lobby against the Obama administration’s proposed Gainful Employment rule.
4. The Chronicle of Higher Education Falls Down on the Job, Feb.16
Early this year, I took my former employer to task for running an extremely boosterish series on the growth of the for-profit college industry. To give credit where it is due, the Chronicle has, in the months since, done some hard-hitting reporting on the sector (see here, here, here and here),.
5. Class Action Lawsuit Against Sallie Mae Gets New Life, Oct. 12
This post focused on a class action shareholder lawsuit that a federal judge in Manhattan has allowed to proceed against Sallie Mae. The investors argue that the student loan giant engaged in an elaborate scheme to hide the deteriorating state of its private loan portfolio at a time when it was trying to complete an extremely lucrative deal to sell the company. Sallie Mae, of course, denies these allegations.
6. Guest Post: Get Rid of Student Loan Collection Agencies, Jan 6
In this guest post, consumer lawyer Deanne Loonin wrote about how the government, guaranty agencies, and schools have increasingly relied on private collection agencies to not only collect on federal student loans but to resolve disputes and provide repayment information to financially distressed borrowers. Arguing that this policy has been a nightmare for borrowers, Loonin called on the Department of Education to eliminate these companies from the federal loan program and instead hire in-house staff to carry out these activities.
7. What Sallie Mae Won’t Tell You About Its Proposal, Feb. 23
In this post, Jason Delisle, the director of New America’s Federal Education Budget Project, argued that the massive lobbying campaign that Sallie Mae had launched against student loan reform legislation and in favor of an alternative proposal it had offered was not about preserving “choice” and “competition” in the federal student loan program, or even about protecting jobs. Instead, it was about ensuring that Sallie Mae would remain in the business of originating federal loans so that it could continue to cross-sell its more expensive private loans to students through their schools’ financial aid offices.
8. EXCLUSIVE: Nelnet Subpoenas Ed. Dept. for Records that Could Show the Bush Administration’s Complicity in 9.5 Scandal, Jan. 14
In January, Higher Ed Watch broke the news that the student loan company Nelnet had issued a subpoena to the Department of Education for records it believed would show that the agency had signed off on a plan that allowed it to improperly obtain windfall profits from the federal government. Nelnet took this action shortly after a federal court judge ruled in favor of allowing a False Claims lawsuit to proceed against the company and five other lenders that were key players in the 9.5 percent student loan scandal.
9. Senator Durbin Takes on Corinthian Colleges, Oct. 7
In this post, we reprinted a lengthy excerpt from a speech that Senator Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) delivered on the Senate floor in which he took on the for-profit company Corinthian Colleges over a multi-million dollar advertising campaign it had launched against the administration’s proposed Gainful Employment rule.
10. Higher Ed Watch Exclusive: Career College Association Strategy Memo Revealed, July 8
Higher Ed Watch made public an internal Career College Association strategy memo that shows that, despite all of the controversy surrounding the for-profit college sector, the organization plans to fight as hard as ever to get Congress to gut key consumer protection provisions in federal law that aim to protect financially needy students from unscrupulous schools.
As always, we appreciate your readership and we hope you have a wonderful holiday season. We’ll see you back here in the second week of January.