Since launching her bid for president Hillary Clinton has been a vocal critic of for-profit schools, pledging in speeches across the country to "crack down on predatory schools" and help students drowning in student loan debt.
"If they load students up with debt for programs that don't lead to good paying jobs, students and taxpayers should not be the only ones left holding the bag," said Clinton in a campaign speech in New Hampshire.
She has also slammed her opponent for the problems at his namesake school. Said Clinton, "[Donald Trump] is trying to scam America the way he scammed all those people at Trump University!"
But Trump isn't the only one who has profited. Over five years, former president Bill Clinton earned $17.6 million from the world's largest for-profit education company, Laureate Education. In his role as "honorary chancellor," Clinton has traveled the world on Laureate's behalf, extolling the virtues of the school.
And some two dozen former and current students at Laureate's flagship school in the U.S. -- an online, for-profit school called Walden University -- told NBC News they feel victimized by the kind of practices Clinton has promised to fight. A 2015 study found Walden students had compiled the second-highest debt load of any school in the U.S.
"We pursued [our degrees] because we wanted to be successful and not be put in poverty," said Sondra Beall-Davis, a current PhD candidate at Walden and a former corporate consultant, who now owes over $200,000 in student loan debt incurred during her time at Walden. "Now you've taken me from a successful career to poverty."
'Here for Good'
According to tax returns released by the Clinton campaign, the Clintons earned a total $22 million from for-profit education companies. Laureate's paychecks to Bill Clinton made up the bulk of that, with $17.6 million going to Clinton in his role as honorary chancellor from 2010 to 2015. He quit that role 12 days before Hillary Clinton announced her run for president. A spokesperson told NBC News Tuesday that his five-year contract expired at that time.
Laureate bills itself as "Here for Good" and "the biggest university network in the world," and made about $4.3 billion in revenue last year. The bulk of Laureate's revenues come from their international schools - the company has about 800,000 students in more than 70 schools in 30 countries. Walden University is the company's flagship school in the United States.
While a 2012 Senate investigation of for-profit schools described an "enrollment driven culture" at Walden, it also concluded that the school was "perhaps the best of any company examined" and that its "students are faring well." Walden is also accredited, unlike Trump University. (Trump and his attorneys deny that Trump University, now defunct, was a scam, and say all but a few students were satisfied.)
The education company and the ex-president maintain ties that go back years, with former appointees in Clinton's administration in high positions at the company. Walden's current President, Jonathan Kaplan, worked in Clinton's administration, serving as special assistant to the president for economic policy. One of Walden's colleges, the Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership, is named for Richard Riley, former secretary of the US Dept. of Education under Clinton and a former board member at Laureate.
Laureate's CEO, Douglas Becker, is a longtime Democratic donor and friend to the Clintons. Laureate has donated between $1 and $5 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, and has partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative on several projects, including a commitment to the charity to offer scholarships to teachers around the world.
An aide to Bill Clinton told NBC News that the former president "engaged with students at Laureate's campuses worldwide and advised Laureate's leadership on social responsibility and increasing access to higher education," and that "he was pleased to support their mission to expand access to higher education, particularly in emerging markets."