Onward, Debt Rules

Some for-profit schools believe that the Obama administration’s new focus on community colleges undermines the role that their schools play in education and the economy. According to a Fox News piece:

President Obama’s takeover of the student loan industry this year along with his push to boost community college graduation rates have come under fire from for-profit colleges, which say they are being unfairly targeted for cuts in federal spending and overlooked in the effort to improve the country’s competitiveness.

Harris Miller, the oft-quoted head of the for-profit colleges’ advocacy group, complained that while the community college summit included representatives from some of the 1,200 community colleges in the United States, the meeting included zero representatives from America’s career colleges. The two types of schools enroll similar students, mostly low-income people who are the first members of their families to attend colleges.

Furthermore, Miller complained, the administration’s proposed “debt rules” unfairly signal out for-profit schools. According to the Fox article:

Miller called the proposal “absurd” because it uses a formula that he says would disqualify most medical schools if they were included. Further, he says it encourages institutions to manipulate numbers to qualify for the aid even if the program is lousy.

Miller’s point has some merit. It’s not just for-profit colleges that saddle students with unmanageable debt.

Just because for-profit colleges are the administration’s first target doesn’t mean they’re the last, however. In fact, it seems probable that if the administration can successfully institute stringent debt rules for proprietary colleges real colleges will be next. It certainly seems like the logical step.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer