The Education Department is putting the finishing touches on new rules governing for-profit colleges, including a controversial proposal to change how students' "gainful employment" after graduation is assessed. Schools that don't make the grade could lose access to federal student aid. The administration says the change is needed to protect students from incurring unnecessary debt that they can't repay after graduation. Representatives of for-profit colleges and some members of Congress worry that the proposed change could make it more difficult for lower-income students to get a post-secondary degree. The proposal comes at a time when the Government Accountability Office has found deceptive recruiting practices at some for-profit colleges.
The gainful employment assessment is just one part of the Education Department's broader goal of improving how for-profit colleges operate. Is it an essential aspect of the proposed rule? Are there other regulatory changes that would correct some of the problems cited by government investigators? In general, what role should for-profit colleges play in the broader landscape of post-secondary education?