In the wake of unbridled exploitation of students by commercial colleges, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Obama administration recently proposed new regulations to help protect students.
Access to education can mean a world of difference; it gives an individual access to more lucrative opportunities, cementing their right to live a decent, middle class existence or more if they so please; however, this isn’t the reality for many students of for-profit colleges and career colleges.
These students often find themselves struggling to find gainful employment while the for-profit universities continue to enroll as many students as possible and rake in the cash. For many students, this starts off a vicious circle of not being able to pay off their student loans because their salaries aren’t sufficient to do so. Many students who graduated from commercial colleges find themselves defaulting on their loans, something that the government doesn’t take a liking to.
On top of this, many students who attend for-profit colleges are offered watered down courses, lied to about job prospects, have to contend with poor quality training and have little to no access to coursework material.
New Regulations In the Works Since 2009
The U.S. Department of Education decided to start intervening in 2009 when it had a series of conversations with stakeholders to find out what issues plagued this sector. In the quest to make them more accountable for their actions as well as ensure that students were getting the education they were promised, the government drew up plans aimed at instituting new regulations. These new regulations are set to go into effect on July 1st, 2015.
Some of the efforts being carried out by the gainful employment regulations include:
- Developing a college ratings system that lists colleges and universities which are effective at improving student success, providing incentives to work towards goals that are seen as most important such as keeping costs down and graduating low-income students, and helping students choose a school that’s congruent with the value they expect to receive, all the while keeping in mind the student’s investment.
- Formalizing a task force that would help ensure oversight for all colleges and institutions of higher learning. This task force would work with other bodies such as federal and state agencies to share information that would go a long way in protecting students from unfair, deceptive and abusive practices and policies that are common with for-profit colleges. In addition, it will bring together interested parties on a quarterly basis or as needed on order to hash out any responsibilities to ensure success.
- Keeping student debt affordable by coming up with flexible repayment plans such as the Pay As You Earn plan, as well as giving students information about their repayment options so they decide on the best way to repay their loans.
- Taking care of veterans seeking to further their education by ensuring that the programs serving these individuals disseminate information as well as support systems efficiently. In addition, the task force would establish a centralized complaint system, access to online tools and resources such as the online GI Comparison Tool, as well as risk-based reviews garnered from student complaints and comments on different educational programs.
All these plans will go a long way in ensuring that for-profit colleges are kept in check as well as provide students with the accountability and transparency needed to access quality education in an equal manner, regardless of their economic background.