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Senator to Hold Hearing on For-Profit Colleges on June 7

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate education committee, will hold a fifth hearing on for-profit colleges on June 7.

The hearing will focus on debt levels among former students of the colleges, said Justine Sessions, a spokeswoman for Harkin, an Iowa Democrat. A list of witnesses for the hearing is forthcoming, she said today in a telephone interview.

The Education Department is preparing to release regulations that will restrict government aid to for-profit colleges whose former students struggle to repay their loans. Harkin’s hearings have focused on the colleges’ recruitment techniques and their rising share of federal student aid. He has said he plans to introduce legislation to protect college students.

“We will not be surprised if this hearing has a decidedly negative slant on the industry,” Jeff Silber, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets in New York, said in a note to clients today. He has a “market perform” rating on the industry.

Republican members of the Senate committee won’t attend the hearing because it will examine only for-profit colleges, rather than public and nonprofit institutions, according to a letter that Wyoming Senator Michael Enzi, the senior Republican on the education committee, sent to Harkin today.

“We agree that the rising cost of higher education, student debt and student outcomes are issues that warrant the attention of Congress,” Enzi said in the letter. “However, these problems exist throughout all sectors of higher education.”

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