Obama Rule Unfairly Targets Disadvantaged Students

Career College Central Summary:

  • The administration justifies these new rules as necessary to discourage student loan default and prevent students from racking up unpayable debts while pursuing degrees that won't immediately lead to higher earnings. Certainly, there is reason for concern that many students overpay for higher education programs that provide scant value. The U.S. should have a robust debate about how to reform higher education policies and infrastructure to encourage greater efficiency.
  • Yet that's not what the administration has done by advancing this gainful employment rule. Rather, it singles out for-profit higher education programs geared to non-traditional students and adult learners for assessment under arbitrary standards that don't necessarily reflect the schools' value. The gainful employment rule zeroes in on the percentage of graduates who default on student loans and graduates' loan-debt-to-earnings ratio when making determinations on which programs deserve support. So if graduates aren't earning enough in the years immediately following completion of their degrees then that program is cut off from federal student loans.
  • These metrics leave out much important information that should go into a fair assessment of the value provided by a school, including the type of students that are being served. Private sector, higher education institutions disproportionately serve the at-risk student population – students who are more likely to be older, members of minority groups and from lower-income backgrounds than their peers at public and nonprofit, private colleges. It's not surprising that such students also tend to borrow more money and earn less immediately after obtaining their degrees. Yet that shouldn't be an excuse to cut off access to educational opportunities for these students.
  • And for-profit colleges fill important educational gaps by providing career-oriented training programs in disciplines such as automotive repair, electrical and aeronautical engineering, computer networking and graphics, web and software design, accounting and a vast area of health care professions such as anesthesiology, veterinary medicine and nursing. While high pay may not come immediately, many of these fields are growing employment areas with the potential for lasting, solid earnings.

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