US: For-profit college lobby blitz diluted new rules

Last year, the Barack Obama administration vowed to stop for-profit colleges from luring students with false promises, writes Eric Lichtblau for The New York Times. In an opening volley that shook the $30 billion industry, officials proposed new restrictions to cut off the huge flow of federal aid to unfit programmes. But after a ferocious response, the Education Department produced a much-weakened final plan that almost certainly will have far less impact as it goes into effect next year.

The story of how the for-profit colleges survived the threat of a major federal crackdown offers a case study in Washington power-brokering. Rattled by the administration's tough talk, the colleges spent more than $16 million on an all-star list of prominent figures, particularly Democrats with close ties to the White House, to plot strategy, mend their battered image and plead their case.

In all, industry advocates met more than two dozen times with White House and Education Department officials, including senior officials like Education Secretary Arne Duncan, records show, even as Obama has vowed to reduce the "outsize" influence of lobbyists and special interests in Washington.
Full report on The New York Times site