The Cost of For-Profit Education: How Much is Your Degree Really Worth?
There are a lot of institutions of higher education operating in the United States which may allegedly engage in predatory practices in terms of attracting students in programs that provide little value in terms of gainful employment. As a result, many graduates, who attended poor performing programs using federal and private financial aid, are left with vast amounts of debt, much of which may be unpaid (Beaver, 2012, Stiglitz, 2013).
The U.S. Department of Education is intending to create a more rigorous framework of accountability and transparency which would make institutions of post-secondary higher education ineligible to offer student financial assistance to their students as authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (U.S. Department of Education, 2014). On March 14, 2014, the U.S. Department of Education proposed regulations through a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking providing measures quantifying the establishment of certification criteria for such financial aid eligibility. The proposed regulations may affect both private and public, for-profit and not-for-profit institutions.
This is not new however, as the U.S. Department of Education attempted to enact similar regulations in 2011 which were stricken down in the judicial system after appealed by a large opposing advocacy group representing 1,400 career sector colleges and universities nationwide, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. According to the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (2014a), such regulations which seem very similar to the regulations of 2011 may have unintended consequences for a lot of students who may otherwise not be able to pursue post-secondary career education and/or training. A large number of these students are minority students, veterans, or otherwise at-risk students. Furthermore, a lack of available skilled workers, claims the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (2014a), may also be a result of restricting access to such programs – most of the programs offered by its member institutions are not readily available at traditional public colleges and universities.
Hence, an argument can be made that due to the imposition of federal regulations using benchmarks which may not be able to be quantified to the satisfaction of all stakeholders, including possibly from a legal standpoint, an issue of access to higher education for many students will again be on the forefront of the expected battle for either more or less involvement of the federal government in the state of education in the country.
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