Students of Color Need a Strong Gainful Rule, According to New Analysis

It is a well-known fact that many for-profit colleges fail to live up to their end of the deal with students. These for-profits lure students into enrolling with the promise of landing a high-paying job after they graduate. But come graduation — or for the many who leave without finishing — all a lot of students are left with is a mountain of debt. Oftentimes for-profits’ primary interest is to bring in the federal financial aid dollars students receive — like those from Pell Grants, federal student loan dollars, and veterans benefits — while educating students becomes secondary or worse. This is particularly worrisome for African American and Latino students who make up 21 percent of total postsecondary enrollment, yet they represent 41 percent of students at for-profit institutions.

An analysis, “Gainful Employment: A Civil Rights Perspective,” released by eight national and civil rights organizations, echoes previous findings that students at for-profit colleges are much less likely to graduate than students at public and nonprofit private colleges; they’re also more likely, on average, to have higher loan default rates. The analysis also details the adverse outcomes that African American and Latino students experience as a result of policies and practices at for-profit colleges.

Unfortunately, the final gainful employment rule released last week did not adequately address any of the four key points the report suggested should be included in the rule, like holding for-profits accountable forshamefully low graduation rates and high student loan debt.

Although the final rule is out, students can still take a stand against predatory for-profit colleges. Campaigns like Higher Ed Not Debt demand that students enrolled at Corinthian Colleges (now closing for ripping off students) receive a full refund. Let’s continue to support campaigns like these that raise the student voice around higher education issues and provoke change.