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For-profit Higher Education
After laying out some details of the department’s major policy proposals, Ted Mitchell, under secretary of education, invited the audience to tell him how the federal government was impeding new and more-effective approaches in higher education. He got an earful from the attendees, mostly college presidents from members of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, which is holding its annual meeting this week.
The pitch made by for-profit colleges, a staple of daytime and late-night TV, often features successful alumni from the schools, from Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers to Hollywood animators. Yet the US Department of Education estimated that 72 percent of the for-profit programs at 7,000 schools produced graduates who on average earned less than high school dropouts.
Private student lenders are not doing enough to help struggling borrowers avoid default, according to a report released Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That finding is part of the consumer bureau’s annual analysis of the complaints it received from the public about private student loans. The bureau reported a 38 percent increase in such complaints over the past year.
Coursera, the online education company, announced on Wednesday that it was expanding a program that awards special certificates to students who pass multiple MOOCs.
Twenty-seven for-profit colleges last year exceeded the cap on the share of their revenue that can come from federal student loans and grants, according to annual data released Friday by the U.S. Department of Education. The colleges violated the federal threshold known as the “90/10 rule,” which prohibits for-profit colleges from deriving more than 90 percent of their operating revenue from federal student aid money.
A move by some congressional Democrats to strengthen oversight of private, for-profit colleges and universities got a boost this month when it was endorsed by 14 state attorneys general, including New Mexico’s Gary King. However, none of the state’s five-member congressional delegation, including the two Democratic senators, has signed on.
Democratic lawmakers are calling for more federal regulations and oversight of for-profit colleges. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) touted the support of more than a dozen attorneys general for their Proprietary Education Oversight Coordination Improvement Act, which would allow the federal government to increase accountability standards for the colleges.
One of the biggest for-profit college companies in the country is creating an "Open College" aimed at adults who may already have skills and experience that could qualify for college credits. The new venture, from Kaplan Higher Education, will include free online services and personalized mentoring to help people identify and organize prior experience and skills that could count toward a degree or move them closer to a new career.
A federal judge has sided with for-profit colleges in a lawsuit over an Education Department rule limiting the commissions colleges can pay to student recruiters, agreeing that the agency failed to justify parts of the rule. The ruling, by Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is the latest wrinkle in a long-running fight between the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities and the department over the "incentive compensation" rule.
LinkedIn has officially joined the jam-packed college rankings party. And with 313 million users, the job networking site has a big data sample both for creating the rankings and for marketing them.