CHIPPEWA HERALD: Walker’s budget cuts for-profit college oversight board

Career College Central Summary:

  • A state board that oversees for-profit colleges would be disbanded, allowing colleges that have come under sharp criticism nationally and in Wisconsin to operate more freely in the state under a proposal in Gov. Scott Walker’s next two-year budget.
  • The item pales in scope compared to the other higher education news in the budget — cutting $300 million from the 26-campus University of Wisconsin System — but could have a significant impact on select groups of students.
  • Walker’s proposal to disband the Educational Approval Board, an out-of-the-spotlight agency that decides whether for-profit colleges can operate in the state, comes after the board appeared to conflict in recent years with Republican lawmakers over a proposal to set standards for retention and job placement at for-profit schools.
  • “I don’t know of any state that simply allows institutions to operate without any type of vetting,” said EAB director David Dies. “That’s, I think, a big step backward.”
  • An estimated 60,000 Wisconsin students attend 244 for-profit colleges annually, according to Dies. The board has the equivalent of 6½ full-time positions and an annual budget of about $600,000 paid entirely by fees assessed to the schools they oversee.
  • Some for-profit schools have been sharply criticized in recent years for aggressive marketing practices and unusually low graduation and job-placement rates. Attorneys general in many states, including Wisconsin, have sued individual for-profit colleges on behalf of consumers.
  • A report by EAB last year found that the average dropout rate between the first and second years was 28 percent among 185 schools surveyed that enroll Wisconsin students. Online out-of-state schools reported the highest dropout rates.

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