Predatory Programs Need to Shape Up or Ship Out

There are less than two weeks left for the public to weigh in on the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed “gainful employment” regulation. The creation of this rule was an important step toward ensuring that career education programs, many of which are at for-profit colleges, are held accountable for preparing students for work without saddling them with unmanageable student loan debt.

Still, the department needs to do more to make sure that students are adequately protected. According to a statistic reported by Young Invincibles, only 1 in 10 students go to a for-profit college, but yet they account for 46 percent of all federal student loan defaults.

Many students enrolled in a career education program have been lured with the promise that they will be trained to land a well-paying job, so they can feasibly pay back their student debt. But too often these programs fail to deliver on their promise to students. Instead, these students are stuck with a worthless degree (if they even receive one) and few valuable workforce skills.

In order to prompt failing programs to quickly improve, the final “gainful employment” rule needs to be strengthened by:

1. Providing financial relief for students in programs that lose eligibility.

2. Limiting enrollment in poorly performing programs until they improve.

3. Closing loopholes and raising standards.

4. Protecting low-cost programs where most graduates don’t borrow.

(You can learn more about these here.)

Many low-income students, students of color, and nontraditional students attend for-profit colleges to create a better life for themselves, only to find out all too late that these colleges cared more about fancy commercials than actually preparing students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.  

To submit a comment to the U.S.Department of Education asking for a stronger final rule, please go here.

Today, don’t miss a press conference with Young Invincibles, joined by Sens. Tom Harkin, Dick Durbin, Chris Murphy, and Brian Schatz, who will call on the U.S. Department of Education to release stronger protections for students against predatory career education programs. Join them at 10:30 a.m. today in room S-115 at the U.S. Capitol.