Changes, Some Big, for Colleges

This bit of news could influence many colleges and programs:

The U.S. Department of Education intends to crack down on postsecondary career programs that can’t demonstrate that enough graduates have found “gainful employment,” a move some for-profit colleges say could cost thousands of students the opportunity for a better future.

Amid much controversy, the feds last year set new regulations for career training programs at public, nonprofit and for-profit institutions. In order to qualify for access to federal student aid, the programs must meet the new “gainful employment” requirements, which are designed to ensure graduates are in a position to earn enough money to pay back what they owe.

The career programs will be required to meet federal standards on three metrics: At least 35 percent of former students must be repaying their loans; the estimated annual loan payment must not exceed 12 percent of a typical graduate’s total earnings; and the estimated annual loan payment must not exceed 30 percent of the individual’s discretionary income.

For the first-round of evaluations, the feds looked at 3,695 programs in 1,336 schools, representing 43 percent of students in career training programs. Of those, 5 percent — 193 programs at 93 individual schools — fell short on all three metrics. Just 35 percent of the programs satisfied all of the regulation requirements.

“Career colleges have a responsibility to prepare people for jobs at a price they can afford,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. “Schools that cannot meet these very reasonable standards are on notice: Invest in your students’ success, or taxpayers can no longer invest in you.”

Inside Higher Ed has a concise breakdown of the feds’ list of campuses that fell short in all three areas. Among them are cosmetology academies, culinary schools, art colleges, and programs preparing students for careers in technology or health-related fields.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Robin

    There go the humanities…

  • Phyllis Tickle

    Scot, I’ve been trying to reach you by e-mail unsuccessfully. Can you drop me a line at the above when you get a chance? Thanks much, p

  • Dan Arnold

    I agree with Robin, what about the humanities? And for that matter, what about theology and MDiv programs? Would they survive?

  • Linda Richard

    So colleges take the blame for lousy job opportunities during difficult economic times? Soon we won’t need “higher education” ’cause we’re simply going to Work at McDonald’s anyway.
    Why not look at increasing opportunities for “gainful employment”?

  • Barb

    So, I followed the links in the article–this is all about Career training programs (most are certificate types of programs) offered by state run community colleges and private for-profit training schools. I worked for Dept. of Labor grant at one of the community colleges. we were trying to show that grads of our manufacturing program got jobs–guess what?–the period of the grant was 2008-2011–they didn’t get jobs–the manufacturers that had promised internships and job opportunites were unable during the recession to come through. I truly believe in these types of training programs but in the current job market it is very hard to get short term good results. At the time that they were needed the most–the state had to cut funding to many programs. BTW nobody expects Lib. Arts students to make any money 🙂

  • I agree something needs to be done about the cost of education and the rediculousness of the govt. handing out loans like they are candy. If the govt. applied bank loan requirements to student loans then, well, I think you know what that would do.

    I agree this would pose big problems for religious degrees (MDiv., etc.) but this might be an opportunity for the churches to wake up and realize they should have been helping to pay for or paying in full the theological education costs for their future leaders. Major denominations used to do this and they need to do this again.

  • Doug Pierce

    This will affect mostly private for profit programs which charge significantly more for the same program offered at other types of institutions.