Regulating For-Profit Colleges: A Much-Needed Reform

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

Recently the Department of Education unveiled new regulations for colleges. These regulations are aimed at for-profit colleges such as Kaplan University and the University of Phoenix, although they apply to all forms of higher education in general.

The rules stop federal funding for programs whose graduating students consistently default on their student debt. Specifically, this happens only if ”fewer than 35 percent of its graduates are repaying principal on their student loans three years out, and, for the typical graduate, loan payments exceed 30 percent of discretionary income as well as 12 percent of total earnings.”

Those are some pretty lenient conditions. If 65% of students default upon their debt, and said debt is more than 30% of their free income – well, that’s a lot of debt for what appears to be a very, very poor program. Certainly a program in which 65% of its graduates are failing ought to be called a failure. It probably doesn’t deserve federal funding.

The outraged reaction of for-profit colleges to these regulations also tells a pretty revealing story. For-profit colleges spent a load of money hiring lobbyists to fight the regulations and were able to successfully soften them up (for instance programs only start losing money by 2015). They also got much support amongst the Republican Party, and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives actually passed an amendment to stop the regulations.

It is quite baffling, and very sad, that Republicans did this. Indeed, Republican opposition to these type of common-sense reforms in education seems to be part of a puzzling pattern. Republicans also opposed reforms to student loans, a bill which increased aid to college students and put pressure on private, subprime-type, student loan companies. Under Republican control, the House of Representatives has targeted the Pell Grant as one of its top targets for spending cuts. The Pell Grant gives (far too little) money to low-income college students. Surely something else – perhaps the $450 million F-35 back-up jet engine which Defense Secretary Robert Gates calls an “unnecessary and extravagant expense” -better deserves these spending cuts.

All in all, curtailing the activities of for-profit colleges is a very good endeavor. For-profit colleges are akin to a form of legalized scamming. They take in often poor, often desperate Americans, promise them jobs and hope, but end up just giving them tens of thousands of dollars in tuition debt (which the federal government then picks up).

There is a much better option for poor Americans looking for a college education: community colleges, which are far less expensive but actually are legitimate institutions. Unfortunately, community colleges are quite bureaucratic, and their fees are rising. More funding could fix this problem. Yet here again one finds Republicans advocating cuts to community college funding; their opposition to President Barack Obama’s student loan reform reduced community college funding from the original $10 billion to a mere $2 billion. Why do they do this?

Nevertheless, this reform does represent a step in progress. It definitely will curb some of the excesses that cause so much student loan debt. It won’t solve everything, but it’s much better than nothing.

 

 

Regulating For-Profit Colleges: A Much-Needed Reform

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/ 

Recently the Department of Education unveiled new regulations for colleges. These regulations are aimed at for-profit colleges such as Kaplan University and the University of Phoenix, although they apply to all forms of higher education in general.

The rules stop federal funding for programs whose graduating students consistently default on their student debt. Specifically, this happens only if ”fewer than 35 percent of its graduates are repaying principal on their student loans three years out, and, for the typical graduate, loan payments exceed 30 percent of discretionary income as well as 12 percent of total earnings.”

Those are some pretty lenient conditions. If 65% of students default upon their debt, and said debt is more than 30% of their free income – well, that’s a lot of debt for what appears to be a very, very poor program. Certainly a program in which 65% of its graduates are failing ought to be called a failure. It probably doesn’t deserve federal funding.

The outraged reaction of for-profit colleges to these regulations also tells a pretty revealing story. For-profit colleges spent a load of money hiring lobbyists to fight the regulations and were able to successfully soften them up (for instance programs only start losing money by 2015). They also got much support amongst the Republican Party, and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives actually passed an amendment to stop the regulations.

It is quite baffling, and very sad, that Republicans did this. Indeed, Republican opposition to these type of common-sense reforms in education seems to be part of a puzzling pattern. Republicans also opposed reforms to student loans, a bill which increased aid to college students and put pressure on private, subprime-type, student loan companies. Under Republican control, the House of Representatives has targeted the Pell Grant as one of its top targets for spending cuts. The Pell Grant gives (far too little) money to low-income college students. Surely something else – perhaps the $450 million F-35 back-up jet engine which Defense Secretary Robert Gates calls an “unnecessary and extravagant expense” -better deserves these spending cuts.

All in all, curtailing the activities of for-profit colleges is a very good endeavor. For-profit colleges are akin to a form of legalized scamming. They take in often poor, often desperate Americans, promise them jobs and hope, but end up just giving them tens of thousands of dollars in tuition debt (which the federal government then picks up).

There is a much better option for poor Americans looking for a college education: community colleges, which are far less expensive but actually are legitimate institutions. Unfortunately, community colleges are quite bureaucratic, and their fees are rising. More funding could fix this problem. Yet here again one finds Republicans advocating cuts to community college funding; their opposition to President Barack Obama’s student loan reform reduced community college funding from the original $10 billion to a mere $2 billion. Why do they do this?

Nevertheless, this reform does represent a step in progress. It definitely will curb some of the excesses that cause so much student loan debt. It won’t solve everything, but it’s much better than nothing.

 

 

Talk To Us: Democrats, Policy, and Young Voters

Cross posted at Future Majority

In 2004, John Kerry made a huge mistake.  While touring colleges and universities,he delivered long-winded speeches about medicare and social security to audiences of teens and twenty-somethings whose main concerns were rising student debt, shrinking employment opportunities, and their friends, busy fighting an ill-conceived land war in Asia.  As a result, one of the more popular sites during the '04 election was called John Kerry is a douchebag but I'm voting for him anyway.  

And we did vote for him.  We didn't sit it out, we weren't apathetic. Young people gave John Kerry a 10 point margin over Bush - the only age demographic to choose Kerry.  But we weren't happy about it.  He was still a douchebag, and nothing showed that more than his indifference to the issues that we cared about so deeply.  

What I want to know is this - are the Democratic candidates going to repeat that mistake in 2007 and 2008?  Will they take our votes for granted, or will they respect us enough to address our issues and engage our generation in a substantive conversation?  What will they say this time when they hold their "college tours?" What will they say when they meet young voters who are working their first jobs, or starting families, and struggling with a mountain of debt?  Or to those who are priced out of college?  What will they say to those of our generation who continue to fight and die in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Right now we have a chance to find out.  

There's more...

A call to arms for my generation: One. Simple. Question.

The building to the right is Franklin Hall, here at Indiana University in Bloomington. I worked there over the summer, in the office of student financial assistance. Theoretically, this would be a place where students could come to have their problems solved, and in some cases this is definitey true. Unfortunately however, the Bush administration has oversaw what can only be described as the rapid erosion of student aid for higher education.

And goddamnit, I think it is past time that we started calling them on this.

So this diary is a call to action for not just my generation, but for anyone who has ever been, or ever will be, affected by the skyrocketing costs of higher education. What it involves is asking the GOP leadership one very simple question:

Why does your party think it is in the best interests of this country to cut student aid for working families, and at the same time give tax cuts to the Paris Hiltons of the world?

There's more...

Student Debt and the (50 State) Democratic Party - Help Us!


As a member of the generation currently attending college, I understand that my peers have proven themselves to be largely apathetic to the political process, and more or less screwed us over in the 2004 election. On behalf of all of us, I apologize.


But if the Democratic Party wants a plan motivate my peers, and I mean a foolproof plan that could help revitalize the Party, then the time has come to help a situation we are all facing every day: Debt. I am working in my school's student financial aid office this summer, and more and more I am becoming convinced that this is an issue we could champion, and it should have happened a long time ago. The Democrats have already hinted that they want to help, but they need to either take on this problem with full force, or not at all.


...follow me below for some background and ideas...

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