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February 06, 2011 12:00 PM Minority Groups against For-Profit Colleges

By Daniel Luzer

Several American civil rights organizations, including MANA: A National Latina Organization, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, have eagerly supported for-profit colleges, arguing that because such companies have many minority students, further regulation would be harmful.

This is evidently not a position shared by all minority organizations. On Thursday the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, an alliance of more than 200 organizations, send a letter to the Department of Education supporting the department’s proposed “gainful employment” rules, which would limit the ability of for-profit colleges that leave students with unaffordable debt to take advantage of federal financial aid.

According to the letter:

We support the approach in the proposed rule, which makes program eligibility under Title IV contingent on median student debt-to-income ratios and repayment rates. Such markers are sound proxies for meaningful preparation for employment and ensuring that students are not incurring unmanageable levels of student loan debt. Those programs that serve their students well will easily pass this review, narrowing the Department’s focus to those that fall short on delivering the American Dream.
These proposed protections are particularly important for (1) students of color, who represent about half of the undergraduate students in for-profit programs; (2) low-income students, who make up 6 in 10 for-profit college students; (3) women, who comprise nearly two-thirds of for-profit college undergraduates; and (4) armed-service members and veterans, a growing target student body for many of for-profit colleges since the passage of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

That seems to be a fairly clear take on this problem.

The organizations included America’s most influential and prominent minority organizations, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Council of La Raza, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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