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) -- The

Washington Post's


education subsidiary, Kaplan, acquired J.Y. Monk, a North Carolina-based provider of real estate licensing and continuing education.

Kaplan said early Monday that its Kaplan Real Estate Education bought J.Y. Monk, making it the largest provider of broker exam prep programs and real estate licensing and continuing education in the state of North Carolina.

>> Education Stocks: Winners & Losers of 2010

J.Y. Monk will be folded into Kaplan's professional education division, offering education to businesses and individuals in the accounting, insurance, securities, real estate, financial planning and information technology industries.

Washington Post shares edged 0.2% lower to $430.95 in early trading Monday. Volume was particularly light in the first trading day after the Christmas holiday and as a blizzard hit the Eastern seaboard of the U.S.

Stocks in the for-profit education sector had a rough 2010. Regulatory uncertainty weighed on the sector, criticism about colleges' graduation rates and student loan repayment rates abounded, future enrollment figures were called into question, schools were accused of failing to adequately prepare students for profitable careers yet leave them saddled with heavy debt, and federally proposed restrictions on the industry's business operations cast a shadow no bull market could fully offset.

Critics argued that for-profit schools like

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and a number of their peers saddle their students with debt yet leave them unequipped for the job market and a means with which to repay the hefty loans.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration proposed regulations that cover everything from restricting incentive-based recruiting practices to the need for new job-training courses and taking action against schools which fail to advertise honestly to requiring schools to notify students of graduation and job-placement rates.

Vote: Which Education Stock Will Outperform in 2011?

Institutions would also be required to limit student enrollment to those who have high school diplomas or can readily demonstrate their readiness for university-level education. Schools must also comply with what is called the 90:10 rule in fiscal 2012. The rule stipulates that no more than 90% of a for-profit education provider's revenue may be generated from Department of Education's federal student aid program.

>>School Stocks Slammed By Report

Arguably the most controversial of the proposed regulations, known as the "gainful employment" rule, expected to be issued early in 2011, would cut federal aid to schools where less than 45% of students are able to repay their loans.

Federal aid to for-profit education providers came to nearly $150 billion in the last academic year.

The gainful employment rule will consist of a two-part measurement to determine a program's eligibility to receive federal student aid. The measurement is based on loan repayment rates and debt-to-income ratios, and requires a minimum of four years of repayment history and three years of employment history.

The rules would go into effect in the middle of next year.

Data released in August showed that repayment rates at for-profit schools were just 36% in fiscal 2009, according to research from the Institute for College Access and Success, a student-advocacy group. At private nonprofit schools the repayment rate was 56%, and at state colleges and universities the rate was 54%.



averaged repayment rates of 40% at its universities last year. Strayer Education, like Corinthian's Everest colleges, averaged in the low 20s. The Washington Post's Kaplan came in slightly higher at a weighted average of 28%, the company said.

At those levels, Strayer, Kaplan and Everest colleges would be ineligible for federal aid if proposed legislation is enacted.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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