December 3, 2021
Several higher education policy experts with differing views on the value of for-profit institutions came together to develop a set of policy recommendations for holding for-profit institutions accountable in a recent report from Opportunity America.
“Like too many issues in education, the question of how to regulate for-profit colleges and universities has become deeply politicized,” the report begins. “Legitimate questions about how to encourage market-driven investment in career-oriented education while protecting students from exploitation have been drowned out by partisan posturing and unproductive fights over ideology and motives.”
The goal of the working group was to develop a practical approach for regulating proprietary institutions. They proposed six policies, several of which would apply to all postsecondary institutions, including:
Program-level disclosure requirements—debt-to-earnings ratios, completion and repayment rates—for all institutions
Minimum debt-to-earnings and completion standards for all programs at all institutions
For for-profit institutions, a series of escalating sanctions for poor debt-to-earnings outcomes as determined by comparing colleges to other colleges with comparable shares of Pell-eligible students
For for-profit institutions, a series of escalating sanctions for poor completion rates, also determined by comparing institutions
Increased scrutiny and potential consequences for unusually rapid growth and decline for all institutions
Potentially measuring cohort default rates at the program level.