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September 23, 2010 10:00 AM For-Profit Colleges Have New Allies

By Daniel Luzer

Jackson.jpg

Some minority groups, much like for-profit education advocates, have now become weirdly concerned with the Department of Education’s college regulations, which, among other things, will make for-profit colleges ineligible for federal financial aid if average graduates need to spend more than 8 percent of starting salaries to service student loans.

According to an article by Kenneth Cooper in Diverse Issues in Higher Education:

Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and some members of the Congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses have sent letters to the U.S. Department of Education opposing draft regulations that would cut off access to federal student aid to for-profit schools that appear to have prepared too few of their graduates for “gainful employment.”
“I am concerned that the proposed rule casts too broad and too general a brush on many institutions, some of whom are doing an excellent job at serving economically disadvantaged and minority students,” Jackson wrote in a Sept. 15 letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “The department’s proposed approach will hinder the access of minority students to higher education and will make it even more difficult to realize President (Barack) Obama’s goal of leading the world in the percentage of college graduates by 2020.”

Then again, if colleges were doing “an excellent job at serving economically disadvantaged and minority students,” they wouldn’t saddle graduates with unmanageable debt. That’s the point.

In fact, the new rules are likely to close only a very small amount of for-profit colleges and hurt the minority students who attend them. Most proprietary schools will just have to end their most egregious practices, which is a good thing.

According to the Career College Association (or something), 43 percent of current proprietary school students are ethnic minorities.

Students who attend for-profit colleges leave with much more student loan debt than students who attend regular colleges. About 27 percent of black college students graduated with at least $30,500 in student-loan debt, the highest rate of any ethnic group. Among whites, for instance, only 16 percent graduated with that level of debt.

The nation’s more prominent ethnic organizations, like the NAACP, National Urban League, League of United Latin American Citizens, and National Council of La Raza, have said nothing about the new rules. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer