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For-profit Higher Education
Critics of for-profit colleges were disappointed by the final “gainful employment” regulations. They said the Obama administration caved to industry pressure and put out a watered-down, inadequate set of rules. The U.S. Department of Education calls that narrative “misleading.”
The Education Department will release on Thursday the final version of its "gainful employment" rule—the subject of years of intense debate, revision, and litigation. When it does so, it will add one last twist to the rule’s winding plot: One of two metrics for judging career programs has disappeared altogether.
The U.S. Department of Education released the full text of its final gainful-employment rule on Thursday morning, and it’s a big one, weighing in at 945 pages. But sheer volume has never been enough to discourage the most devoted of higher-education observers: the diehard policy wonks, who took to Twitter with observations and analysis.
Paul Alexander writes: For some years now, Sen. Richard J. Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, has waged a war against for-profit colleges and universities. More than almost any member of the United States Congress, he has targeted these institutions of higher learning with the goal of regulating them heavily or putting them out of business altogether.
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.