The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

March 15, 2014

Stricter for-profit guidelines

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Obama administration on Friday announced regulation proposals to set more standards on for-profit colleges like Ashford University to provide students more assurances at “gainful employment.”

The proposal aims to make institutions in the private sector ensure they are performing at certain standards with the threat of removing federal aid authority from certain colleges.

In the case of Ashford and parent company Bridgepoint Education, this means student loan repayments should not exceed 8 percent of total income. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the proposal means to identify programs performing well over ones deemed as “failing both students and taxpayers.” His office referred to failing for-profits as “predatory, poor-performing career colleges.”

Bridgepoint released a brief statement Friday afternoon saying, “Ashford University is aware of today’s proposed regulations on Gainful Employment by the U.S. Department of Education and, in the days ahead, will be reviewing the proposal in great detail.”

Through a press release, the Department of Education said “for-profit colleges can receive up to 90 percent of their revenue from taxpayer dollars...” While these institutions give “millions of people” higher ed opportunities, students receive “confusing or misleading information, excessive costs, poor quality, low completion rates, and programs that provide training for low-wage occupations or, in some cases, where there simply are no jobs.”

“Success in career education should be measured by how many students graduate prepared for a good job with sufficient earnings,” Duncan said in the press release. “While state attorneys general across the country and allies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have taken steps in recent months to stop programs from preying on students, we know more can be done at the local, state, and federal level to stop this abuse.”

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities issued their own statement blasting the proposal. Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the group, called the regulations “sham rulemaking.”

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