Now the government wants to solve the problem it created by making some schools at least show their classes will have some value, requiring "career college programs to better prepare students for 'gainful employment' or risk losing access to Federal student aid."
Obviously President Obama can't go after squarely progressive universities so these rules are tailored instead to go after shorter-term schools instead of four-year institutions, but the standards should apply anywhere. Should any university take money from anyone for a Ph.D. in Fine Arts, knowing that student will likely be one of those 13,000 Ph.D.s who will be janitors or waitresses next year?
The U.S. Department of Education, as usual, seems to be tackling the wrong problem. Yes, student loan defaults at those smaller private schools are higher but the families are also poorer and they are students who were not successful in high school so they aren't getting scholarships - the very people a Democratic Congress in the early 1990s said would benefit most from unlimited students loans. Capping student loans back at the old $2,500 maximum would drive university prices back down and let more students get a real education.
Focusing on one type of school, rather than the core problem, would seem to be unfair restriction of trade.
Institutions will now be required to disclose their total program costs, loan repayment rates, graduates' debt-to-earnings ratio and other critical consumer information to help students better choose the gainful employment program that's right for them.How many graduate science programs could pass that test? And Jennifer Wheary at Policy Shop argues that journalism graduate programs would likely not pass either. We produce 6X as many Ph.D.s annually as there are jobs for them in academia so the private sector should have always been the first consideration. The implication is that these career schools are less ethical for taking all the students they can get but does anyone not know of a university degree mill that does the same thing?
A new Ph.D. in science likely has substantial debt and little chance of paying it off if they stay in academia. Given the number of Ph.D.s produced per year it is no surprise post-doc positions pay little. It would make sense to take a skeptical look at all academia and not just career college programs.