A Federal District Court judge in Washington recently upheld new Obama administration rules that deny federal aid to career training programs that charge outrageous amounts, saddle students with crushing debt, and give them useless degrees in return.
The ruling strongly reaffirms the government’s authority to regulate these often-corrupt programs — and comes at a time when federal and state investigations are uncovering fraud and misconduct by for-profit schools all over the country. Regrettably, however, Republicans in both houses are moving bills that would block the Obama administration from enforcing the rules.
As the editorial notes, the new rules were inspired by data showing that students in for-profit schools account for only about 12 percent of college enrollment, but nearly half of student loan defaults.
We the taxpayers have been footing the bill for these predatory practices.
Research has consistently shown that graduates of for-profit institutions are more likely than graduates of other institutions to have debt of more than $40,000 by the time they leave school, and far less likely to find the employment promised by those marketing these programs. What is particularly odious about these “schools” is that they deliberately target veterans, minorities and the poor.
Republican attempts to block the new rules are not sitting well with organizations that work on behalf of consumers, veterans and the poor. This spring, a coalition of these groups sent a letter reminding Congress that 37 state attorneys general are jointly investigating allegations of fraud in for-profit schools. Various investigations have already uncovered deceptive tactics; dismal graduation rates; false or inflated job placement rates; and dubious sales and admissions policies that target veterans and students of color.
It’s hard to argue with the Times‘ conclusion.
At issue here is an industry that routinely exploits the country’s most vulnerable citizens and fleeces the federal student aid program at the same time. The administration’s effort to bring it under control deserves support, not legislative sabotage.