Repayment study left out blacks

A U.S. Education Department analysis on the relationship between race and repayment of student loans left out black students, skewing results used to justify the gainful employment rule, reports Inside Higher Ed.

For-profit colleges, which enroll many minority, low-income and older students, argue the high-risk demographics explain their students’ higher default rates on student loans. Not so, said the department in June, concluding that only 1 percent of the variance in repayment rates could be explained by the racial composition of enrollment. Sorry, never mind.

But by failing to count black students, the study understated the impact of race: the actual variance at for-profits is 20 percent over all, and 31 percent for four-year institutions, the department said in the December filing.

Eduardo Ochoa, the department’s assistant secretary for postsecondary education, said “accurate figures would have had no impact on the final regulations.”


The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, the for-profit trade group challenging the gainful employment rules, charges the new figures show that “schools that enroll a higher percentage of minority students are more likely to fail the department’s repayment test.”

President Obama talked about defunding colleges that raise tuition in his State of the Union speech, writes Andrew Kelly on the Enterprise Blog.  That means shifting “some Federal aid away from colleges that don’t keep net tuition down and provide good value,”  according to a White House blueprint (pdf). Deciding whether a college is providing value for the money will require collecting gainful employment data on all higher education sectors, writes Kelly.