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Justin Pope and Kimberly Hefling AP Education Writers
Published: 18 April 2012

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two senators say for-profit colleges are using too much taxpayer money to recruit students.

Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., introduced a bill Wednesday to prohibit colleges of all kinds from using dollars from federal student assistance programs to pay for advertising.

Federal student aid programs can account for up to 90 percent of for-profit colleges' revenues. The schools spend on average a quarter of their revenues on recruiting - in some cases approaching what they spend on instruction. A Senate report on 15 large for-profit education companies found they get 86 percent of their revenues from taxpayers, and have spent a combined $3.7 billion annually on marketing and recruiting.

The proposal faces long odds in Congress and opposition from the higher education community.

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