The re-election of President Obama isn't likely to result in a slew of new regulations aimed at for-profit colleges. But with student debt and the cost of college expected to remain high-profile issues in his second administration, industry observers foresee little let-up in the focus on the for-profit sector.
That focus will begin, many say, with a push to resuscitate the gainful-employment regulation, a Department of Education proposal strongly opposed by for-profit colleges. And according to one community-college leader, in its new incarnation, the regulation might come back to life "in a broader form," with portions of it applying more widely at nonprofit colleges as well. The original regulation was largely vacated by a federal judge last summer after it was challenged in court by the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, the main trade group of for-profit colleges.
And while the election brought no changes in control to either the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives, observers also predict that for-profit colleges will continue to face heat from Democrats in Congress as deficit-cutting measures and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act take center stage over the next few years.
"Student debt is a huge political and economic issue," and for-profit colleges are a key part of that story, says Teddy Downey, a senior policy analyst with TJ Strategies, a firm in Washington, D.C., that provides research on education issues to investors and policy makers. "They're still going to be a big part of the conversation."
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