Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Big Education

With the results of the election last week speculating on what the Democrats will do starting in January is a full fledged, international industry. At stake in higher education are major issues such as: subsidies for private lenders, interest rate levels for students and parents, and federal grant aid.

Bethany McLean, Fortune editor-at-large, takes up the question of what will Democrats do in a new article. However, her speculation about what the Democrats will do takes a back seat to her outstanding analysis about the industry that has built up around higher ed, which she christens "Big Education."

In the corporate world, there's a short list of obvious suspects who may face tougher times under a Democratic Congress, including Big Pharma and Big Oil. Then there are the not-so-obvious suspects - like what might be called Big Education.

"Big Education" consists of the student loan and for-profit higher ed industries that have become big players through tried and true special interest tactics like massive campaign contributions and legions of former staffers as their lobbyists. Ms. McLean is also uniquely credible on the subject of corporate malfeasance, as she was the first reporter to write about Enron as financial miracle. She wrote a great piece on Sallie Mae last year.

I'm tempted to excerpt large pieces of the article but its worth everyone taking a look at it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Luke, like you I was shocked, shocked to read that student loan companies earn a profit. Thank God there are business publications like Fortune who point that out.

Shocked too that "the government guarantees lenders a certain level of income" to make loans to students with no credit history, income or assets at rates well below the market.

Shocked that there's a revolving door between the government and industry. I know a guy who used to work at the international horse association who would be perfect to run a $70 billion loan program.

Heck of a job, Bethie.