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States looking closely at for-profit colleges

Chaaron Pearson on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 12:00:00 am

Last year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan vowed to change the way for-profit schools do business after a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that for-profit colleges inflated graduation and job placement rates when enrolling students and signing them up for state and federal loans.  The Education Department has since postponed their planned new rules after receiving pressure from for-profit education lobbyists and opposition in Congress.

States, tired of waiting on the federal government, have taken matters into their own hands.  According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, lawmakers in 17 states have introduced for-profit college bills this year, many of them designed to tighten regulation of the schools. 

Maryland enacted measures that would eliminate all state aid to for-profit schools, ban commissions or bonuses for student recruiting and make all for-profit schools in the state contribute to a fund to protect students if any college in their group breaches a contract.

California lawmakers approved legislation that would restrict a for-profit collegeís eligibility to receive state aid in the form of Cal Grants.

Nebraskaís state senators are looking to approve a measure that would update the stateís higher education regulations.  The billís sponsor, state Senator Greg Adams, says it would streamline the application process that schools have to follow to pass the Nebraska Commission for Post-Secondary Education.  The legislation would also increase the schoolís accountability to the state once they were approved.

Not only are legislative branches looking at for-profit colleges, attorneys general in at least four states have launched investigations of for-profit schools.

For-profit colleges are concerned that states might be more concerned with closing their budget gaps rather than with education practices.  For-profit schools arenít against updating an outdated regulatory system, but they are concerned if reducing/eliminating their funding is a way to solve the statesí budget woes.

To read more: Stateline.org: For-profit colleges face more state scrutiny

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