For-profits colleges find bipartisan allies

The Obama administration’s crackdown on for-profit career colleges faces bipartisan resistance, reports Fox News.

“Can you think of any other issue that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the current Speaker John Boehner agree on?” asked Lanny Davis, a former legal counsel to President Clinton (and a for-profit industry lobbyist). “The policy is so wrongheaded that it brings liberals and conservatives together.”

The Education Department is expected to release “gainful employment” rules this week that would deny federal student loans to career-training programs whose students run up high debts relative to earnings and high default rates.

“There seems to be a big urgency here to go after for-profit colleges who educate a high number of African-American and Hispanic people in our communities,” Harry Alford, the head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, told Fox News. “And for some reason, it’s full speed ahead.”

For-profit colleges disproportionately enroll black and Hispanic adults who use federal grants and loans to pay tuition.

That’s why the regulation is opposed by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, among others, who were among 113 lawmakers who wrote Obama a month ago and urged him to back off, saying “the implementation of these new rules will be so burdensome and the projected impact so broad that many reputable schools, particularly those serving the most at-risk students, will be adversely impacted.”

The Education Department responds that the rule will “curb abuses by for-profit colleges. Far too many of these schools are saddling students with unmanageable debts, in exchange for largely worthless degrees.”

Kevin Chavous, an Obama supporter and former District of Columbia council member, calls for assessing the impact on low-income and minority students before restricting their access to for-profit career training.

Any proposal that would severely curtail the enrollment of minority, working class and low-income college students is shortsighted and must be stopped.

While for-profit colleges charge much more than community colleges, the graduation rate for two-year for-profit career programs is much higher. (Graduation rates are lower for for-profit bachelor’s programs.) Students who face community college wait lists may prefer to spend more on a for-profit program with immediate openings.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs
ON June 1, 2011

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