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For-Profit Education Lobbying War Begins

The for-profit education industry has come out swinging against proposed changes in rules by the Education Department that could curtail government financial aid.

cost of education
cost of education

Among the efforts are a package created by John Sperling, founder of Apollo Group , which runs the University of Phoenix.

That package includes a letter by Sperling to members of Congress with a suggested letter they write to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

As Sperling points out in his letter, the package also includes a powerpoint of a “prepared by NEXUS, a research and policy institute whose primary focus is the for-profit sector of higher education. Given its commitment to fact based research, not special pleading, the power point presents a rationale for the need to rethink the reforms proposed by USDOE…”

The 74-page report, published last week by the Nexus Research and Policy Center, makes an effort to debunk industry critics, especially hedge fund manager Steve Eisman of FrontPoint Partners.

While Sperling’s letter says that the University of Phoenix’s “massive database on its operations and its academics has been made available to NEXUS researchers,” it doesn’t say that the primary source of funding for Nexus is Apollo and the John G. Sperling Foundation. That’s left to disclosures in the report. And those disclosures don’t mention that Jorge Klor de Alva, Nexus’s president and author of the report, is a former executive of Apollo.

Klor de Alva told me that while his idea for Nexus grew out of the University of Phoenix, Nexus has an independent board. And while its advisory board includes industry insiders, they don’t set policy and maintain no editorial control over its reports.

Still, the report’s disclosure also says that Nexus acknowledges that its “full independence may be questioned as a consequence of its funding sources and in kind donations from Apollo of employee time…”

May be questioned?