In July, the Education Department proposed a “gainful employment” rule that would cut off federal student aid to for-profit colleges if a certain percentage of graduates fail to pay back loans or earn enough to repay them. “At least 45 percent of former students must be paying down the principal on their loans, or the debt payments of graduates must not exceed 8 percent of their annual income,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
Who can keep track of all that? Why, it would take new armies of bureaucrats. Oh, we see. Well, it fits nicely with the government’s takeover of college loans, courtesy of a provision slipped into Obamacare. The government’s heavy hand is getting heavier by the minute.
It’s true that tuition tends to be higher at for-profit schools and that a higher percentage of their students default on loans. But enrollment has tripled over the past decade to about 1.8 million, the Journal reports. And these schools have a 65 percent graduation rate compared to 44 percent at community colleges.
The for-profit schools, which get no state aid, save taxpayers money and contribute to state coffers. The Apollo Group, which operates the University of Phoenix, paid $445 million in income taxes in 2009, according to Forbes magazine.
The for-profits came under attack in the Senate hearings based on a report from the Government Accountability Office, which sent undercover “students” to 15 colleges and found that some provided misleading information about “accreditation, the requirements for repayment of student loans, graduation rates, job placement, or likely earnings.” Yes, there are miscreants in any industry, and there already are rules to discipline them.
It’s only a pipe dream, but what if the GAO investigated the average liberal arts university and its claims to prepare students for life? Can anyone plausibly argue that exposing students only to left-wing speakers and professors will equip Joe and Josie College to compete in real-life America? Or how about some of the Top 10 worst college courses, as compiled by Conservapedia, such as the University of Baltimore’s Media Genres: The Study of Zombies, Cornell’s Cyber Feminism or UCLA’s Queer Musicology?
I don’t think you’ll find those courses at Christian schools or for-profit colleges, which aren’t taxpayer-subsidized and can’t afford to waste parents’ money.
Robert Knight is senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and author of the newly updated “Radical Rulers: The White House Elites Who Are Pushing America Toward Socialism” (radicalrulers.com, 2010).