Keep the Data Coming

The release of the Apollo Group’s study, Higher Education at a Crossroads, is another example of much-needed data in the for-profit education debate. While this study was commissioned by a private sector school, it should not be discounted, and it deserves attention along with what was reported here in a Chronicle of Higher Education article – about Apollo and about for-profit education in general. In this debate, all data should be welcomed and it should be evaluated on the usual issues, e.g., its methodology.

Private sector schools play an important role in our education system today.  They do so by providing non-traditional students access to college degrees. This study’s findings are quite startling and they have very significant policy implications.  While I have long argued that private sector schools are essential to meeting President Obama’s goal for college graduates, the study estimates that meeting the goal without proprietary colleges would cost taxpayers more than $800-billion over the next 10 years.  As anyone in a public college or university knows all too well, there is not enough public funding for our existing, public colleges and universities, much less an expansion of this enormity.

If the Department of Education moves forward with the gainful employment rule as proposed, the educational future of our students will be jeopardized. I encourage the Department to take another look at how the rule will affect thousands of students that attend private sector institutions.