NY Times Columnist Spun By For-Profit College Misinformation

"New York Times economic columnist Eduardo Porter has a piece this morning seeking to raise doubts about the Obama administration's proposed 'gainful employment' rule," David_Halperin, an attorney and writer at RepublicReport.org, writes in The Huffington Post's The Blog.

"The rule would, eventually, take away eligibility for federal student aid from career training programs that consistently leave their students with overwhelming debt. While Porter does quote some proponents of the rule, overall the piece reflects the misinformation served up by the for-profit college industry and could mislead readers about what's at stake in this debate.

Porter's conclusion is that America's for-profit colleges are 'indispensable': 'The United States must satisfy a growing demand for higher education, particularly from low-income students. If for-profit colleges are discouraged from fulfilling it, somebody else has to.'

But the issue is not whether government should 'discourage' for-profit colleges from educating students. The whole point of the gainful employment provision written into federal law, and of the pending regulation, is to encourage career colleges, for-profit or otherwise, to provide students with quality, affordable educations that will actually prepare them for careers without burying them in debt. ... 

The for-profit college programs that will suffer under a serious gainful employment rule are those whose prices are too high and quality is too low; those that admit too many students whom they know won't succeed in a given program, just so they can cash their financial aid checks; those that mislead students about the jobs and salaries that await them.  If indeed Marc Jerome's school is serving students well, then it should thrive under the new regulations, while less scrupulous competitors are driven out of business.

There is nothing at all wrong with the concept of for-profit education as a means of driving innovation and pushing the traditional sectors of higher education to serve students better. But since the for-profit education sector is largely a government program, almost entirely dependent on federal aid, government has a responsibility to make sure that money is used to help students, not hurt them. That is precisely what a strong gainful employment rule will do. If for-profit college executives want to make their institutions truly 'indispensable,' they should shift their priorities from deceptive advertising, Washington lobbying, and media spinning, and start truly focusing on preparing students for careers."

NASFAA's "Financial Aid in the News" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.