THE HILL: The Obama administration’s scorched-earth approach to for-profit education

Career College Central Summary:

  • When it comes to education, the Obama administration has taken a scorched earth approach to private sector (for-profit) higher education. Despite all common sense, the administration has finalized its "gainful employment" regulations and imperiled the future of thousands of underserved minority students. Under the guise of reducing student debt and curbing alleged abuses by career colleges and universities, these regulations would actually have the opposite effect, and cause irreparable harm to those in this country most in need of an education to pursue life improvement.
  • While the administration and many private-sector education critics claim that the final regulations have been "softened," the reality is that they are far more onerous and burdensome than the Department of Education's initial proposal back in 2011, subsequently struck down by a federal judge for using "arbitrary" and "capricious" metrics to judge the quality of programs offered by proprietary colleges and universities. By the Department of Education's own estimates, some 1,400 programs will fail the new regulations, impacting 840,000 students — 99 percent of whom are enrolled at proprietary institutions — who would be displaced from programs that do not pass the new accountability standards, many having no alternative options to continue their education.
  • As required by law, prior to issuance of the regulations, the administration met with stakeholders in the education space, including representatives of the private sector, to evaluate the impact of the new regulations. Evidently a deaf ear was turned to the numerous warnings these stakeholders repeatedly expressed about the detrimental (unintended) consequences of the regulations on access to higher education and the economy.
  • The major change made to the final regulations was the removal of cohort default rates as a measure of accountability. While some view this action as weakening the regulations, the reality is that it is a clear indication of the administration's bias toward community colleges and against the private sector. This means that, despite high default rates and low graduation rates, almost no community colleges will be penalized. However, proprietary institutions, with higher graduation rates and lower default rates, will bear the full brunt of the rule.

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