Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Good Ideas Aimed at the Wrong Target

by Daniel L. Bennett

Yesterday, Senator Durbin held a forum in Chicago, once again chastising the for-profit higher ed sector for problems that are prevalent in the entire higher ed landscape. He managed to propose a few decent reform ideas.
Having for-profit colleges bear some of the risk on student loans so that if a student defaults, the taxpayers aren’t left footing the bill;

Requiring schools to provide more complete information regarding real costs, accreditation, completion rates, and job placement rates so that students can make informed decisions and aren’t burdened with debt without the skills and credentials necessary to succeed;

Examining the amount of federal funding being spent by for-profit colleges on marketing campaigns, including billboards, television commercials, and advertisements.
I say that these are decent ideas because they are very similar to ones that I've suggested recently in articles for Forbes and Career College Central; however, Senator Durbin's proposals are misguided in that they are directed only at a small subset of the problem (the for-profit sector) when they need to be directed at a much larger target universe - every college that is receiving federal aid money. As myself and others have suggested, the current political hostility towards the for-profit colleges appears to be reflective of disdain for private enterprise rather than an attempt to seriously reform and eliminate waste in the federal aid program.

If this were not the case, then Congress and the Administration would be directing these efforts towards all of higher education because there certainly is similar profiteering and abuse occurring in the public and non-profit sectors as well as in the for-profit one.

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