Tangling Over Accountability

WASHINGTON — Private college presidents head to Capitol Hill today to make the case for private higher education, hoping to maintain funding for federal student aid programs while slowing down what they see as an encroaching tide of new federal regulations.

If a question-and-answer session Monday at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities’ annual conference is any guide, they’ll find plenty to disagree on with lawmakers from both parties.

In recent years, discussions on federal regulations at higher education conferences have grown testy, as college presidents criticize Congress and the Obama administration for both new regulations and rhetoric that seems to indicate more are on the horizon. Monday’s discussion was no different, as presidents tangled with Congressional and Education Department staff over for-profit colleges, regulation, consumer disclosures and the return on investment of a college degree.

After a panel discussion that demonstrated again how little agreement there is between the two parties as the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act looms on the horizon — with Democrats generally favoring more regulation, on both for-profit and nonprofit colleges, while Republicans oppose it — the question-and-answer session brought out plenty of complaints about Congress and the administration.

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