Ensuring Access or Limiting It?

The Department of Education states in its mission that it promotes “student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.”

Access to education is a key ingredient to our quality of life and our prosperity. In our country all Americans of every age, background and ethnicity should have equality of access to the educational programs, schools and degrees they want and need to get ahead in life.

The approach of the Department of Education to equality of access seems somewhat strange; it has proposed a rule that will severely limit student access to educational opportunities found in private sector schools and career colleges. The Department of Education is proposing a “Gainful Employment” rule.  One version of the proposal restricts Title IV financial aid if a student’s starting salary does not meet a debt -to-earnings ratio test of 8%.

None of us wants to see college graduates with excessive debt, but loans are a means for students of lower income and working families to gain access to economic opportunity.  During a time when the economy is in recession and more than seven million people have lost their jobs, why would the federal government limit students’ educational opportunity and access to the skills needed for their jobs? Proprietary schools have a record of providing flexible, service-oriented opportunities for the many adults going back to school.  They also have a record of meeting the needs of  a disproportionately high enrollment of minority students who want to gain a competitive advantage by means of a specific degree. Without access to these schools, many adults will be denied an education essential for many jobs, and our economy will be denied the skilled labor it needs for recovery.

“Gainful Employment” should be an issue that receives wider public attention.  While all of us want to minimize student debt, restricting access to education during a severe recession has the potential to limit opportunity for the jobless and under-employed and hamper our economy’s recovery.


One thought on “Ensuring Access or Limiting It?

  1. Larry, you make several excellent points about the cost of education relative to accessibility. Personally I feel that the there is a huge opportunity for for-profit colleges to provide accessbile and high quality education at a very affordable price if they properly leverage the scalability of the latest technologies. A few years ago I stated Tech University of America — http://www.TechUofA.com — whose goal is to make all of our courses free using Facebook for the platform, and only charge $99 a month if one wants to earn a certificate or degree.

    Also, sites like eduFire.com and many others are disrupting current models and empowering students and faculty. This is the most exciting time in higher education as eduPunks are quickly changing the game! The next five years will bring more innovation to higher ed than we have seen in the past 250 years!

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