A 2010 GAO studied showed that federal aid to students at for-profit colleges had tripled over a five-year period from $8 billion to $24 billion and now accounts for 23% of the total aid given out, even though enrollment at for-profit schools only accounts for 8% of college students. Meanwhile, studies continue to show that an inordinately small number of students at these schools ever graduates. In an effort to cut back on the number of people left with mammoth amounts of student loan debt they can't pay back, the U.S. Dept. of Education has issued a new edict: Show us your college actually prepares students for gainful employment or risk losing out on that lovely loan money.
The official statement:
To qualify for Federal aid, the law requires that most for-profit programs and certificate programs at nonprofit and public institutions prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation. Under the regulations introduced today, a program would be considered to lead to gainful employment if it meets at least one of the following three metrics: at least 35 percent of former students are repaying their loans (defined as reducing the loan balance by at least $1); the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 30 percent of his or her discretionary income; or the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 12 percent of his or her total earnings. While the regulations apply to occupational training programs at all types of institutions, for-profit programs are most likely to leave their students with unaffordable debts and poor employment prospects.
Joke response: I guess that means there's no financial aid for arts students anymore.
Serious response: this sounds great great. This may be the first time that we actually examine college spending as compared with future income in a systemic way.