States Seek Tighter Regulation of For-Profits


by Ashley A. Smith

California lawmakers are going after for-profit institutions with a slate of bills meant to tighten regulations, some of which also are aimed at nonprofit universities with big online programs.

Lawmakers in the state say the bills are a response to the rollback of for-profit oversight led by Betsy DeVos, U.S. secretary of education. And policy makers in California aren’t alone in pushing back at the state level: bills introduced recently in Maine, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Washington also seek to regulate for-profit colleges.

Some of the proposals, which Robert Shireman and the Century Foundation helped craft, appear to go after specific institutions. Shireman, a former deputy undersecretary of education in the Obama administration and a senior fellow at the foundation, said states watched as DeVos dropped Obama-era student aid regulations that largely targeted the for-profit sector. And he said some state lawmakers subsequently approached him and other groups for guidance.

“It has become much clearer that the federal government is not interested in actually policing the federal loan program and has actually reversed a lot of the guardrails that were set up by the Obama administration,” said Shireman. “Much of the legislation we’re seeing is a combination of addressing some of the problems we’re seeing right now, but also preventing future Corinthians, future Ashfords, future Argosys.”

DeVos last year moved to drop the gainful-employment rule and restored federal recognition of the for-profit college accreditor that oversaw the… (continue reading)