US Chamber of Commerce: Regulating Higher Education: When “Helping” Hurts

Career College Central Summary:

  • President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Thomas J. Donohue:

    • Leave it to the heavy hand of government to hurt education with regulations intended to help. A new rule released by the Department of Education, along with two other proposals in the pipeline, stands to empower government bureaucracy in higher education while stifling opportunities for students to change their lives.
    • Regulators have just finalized the so-called gainful employment rule, which will rate for-profit institutions based on former students’ debt-to-income ratios. The new rule will take effect in July. And if schools don’t meet a federally imposed standard, their federal student aid will be slashed.
    • There are a couple of red flags with this rule. One is that it almost exclusively targets for-profit institutions. Most nonprofit schools would be exempt, even though many of them wouldn’t be able to meet the new standard. But if the standard is so important, shouldn’t it be applied across the board?
    • The second problem is that the rule creates additional financial barriers to education opportunities for disadvantaged students. Private sector educational institutions have become a great option for individuals from low-income backgrounds and underserved communities. If these institutions see their federal aid eliminated, those students will be out of luck.
    • Regulators aren’t prepared to stop with the gainful employment rule. The Department of Education wants to revive a failed attempt to mandate that the states “authorize” online education offered by any college—public, private, or for-profit. States are ill-equipped to take on this task, and it would create a costly and burdensome bureaucracy that would discourage innovation in education. Again, the students would suffer. Online education can be a cost-effective option, and it makes distance learning possible. We should encourage and enable it, not jeopardize it.

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Photo Credit: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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