Throw out those pesky safeguards

Those evil demons.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plans to eliminate regulations that forced for-profit colleges to prove that they provide gainful employment to the students they enroll, in what would be the most drastic in a series of moves that she has made to free the for-profit sector from safeguards put in effect during the Obama era.

The so-called gainful employment regulations put into force by the Obama administration cut off federally guaranteed student loans to colleges if their graduates did not earn enough money to pay them off. That sent many for-profit colleges and universities into an economic tailspin because so many of their alumni were failing to find decent jobs.

In a tailspin is where they belonged, then, because that’s a red flag for “colleges in name only.”

The Obama regulations — years in the making and the subject of a bitter fight that pulled in heavy hitters from both parties who backed the for-profit schools — also required such schools to advertise whether or not they met federal standards for job placement in promotional materials and to prospective students.

Now, a draft regulation, obtained by The New York Times, indicates that the Education Department plans to scuttle the regulations altogether, not simply modify them, as Ms. DeVos did Wednesday with new regulations that scaled back an Obama-era debt relief plan for student borrowers who felt duped by the unrealistic appeals of for-profit colleges.

Appeals? The word is advertising. For-profit schools advertise in order to attract paying customers, and they promise the moon.

The move would punctuate a series of decisions to freeze, modify and now eliminate safeguards put in place after hundreds of for-profit colleges were accused of widespread fraud and subsequently collapsed, leaving their enrolled students with huge debts and no degrees. The failure of two mammoth chains, Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institutes, capped years of complaints that some career-training colleges took advantage of veterans and other nontraditional students, using deceptive marketing and illegal recruitment practices.

But hey, they make a profit, so to Republicans that’s gud bizness.

The DeVos approach would undo nearly a decade of efforts to create a tough accountability system for the largely unregulated and scandal-riddled for-profit sector of higher education.

Which would not exist if it were not for federal student loans, which trap people under a mountain of debt; when the degrees are worthless that’s the final turn of the screw. The sour joke is that people could get better training for a fraction of the cost at a public community college, but the for-profit ones claim to be the gold standard.

2 Responses to “Throw out those pesky safeguards”