Look at outcomes for all colleges

Federal aid is subsidizing colleges with low graduation, loan repayment and employment rates, writes Judah Bellon on Minding the Campus. Instead of singling out for-profit higher education, regulators should scrutinize the outcomes of all colleges and universities that rely on federal loans and grants.

For-profit colleges enroll more black, Hispanic, low-income and older students than public and nonprofit institutions. Their no-frills programs attract working students who need a flexible schedule, writes Bellon. Technical training is the strong suit of for-profit colleges, which adjust quickly to employer demand.  For-profit students are more likely to complete certificates and associate degrees than community college students.

However, for-profit students are much less likely to complete four-year degrees and much more likely to default on student loans. That inspired the U.S. Department of Education’s attempt to enforce “gainful employment” rules limiting aid to programs whose graduates don’t earn enough to pay back their loans.

Regulate the bad applies, writes Bellon. But don’t single out for-profit higher education. If students are failing to graduate for jobs or unable to pay back their loans, it doesn’t matter if they attended a for-profit, private nonprofit or public institution.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON May 3, 2013

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Laurence Johnston

There is a glaring imbalance in the report, however. It analyzed the infamous trio (i.e., waste, fraud, and abuse) solely in the for-profit sector, when non-profit higher education is saturated with them too. Non-profit colleges and universities also recruit students who have doubtful academic ability and motivation, with the idea that good careers await them if they get a degree. They try to fill up their coffers with as much government grant and aid money as possible and many have very low graduation rates–exactly the charges Harkin makes against for-profit schools.

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