Fewer profits, more scrutiny at for-profit colleges?

For-profit colleges have undergone a great deal of scrutiny lately, in part because they are getting a second look from students at overburdened community colleges and in part because they promise to prepare students for paying jobs in the midst of a recession.

They’ve also been in the headlines a lot, most recently for exaggerating “the value of their degree programs, selling young people on dreams of middle-class wages while setting them up for default on untenable debts, low-wage work and a struggle to avoid poverty,” according to a recent New York Times article.

The association that represents some 1,400 members has been fighting back,  in a series of letters and articles. The pushback,  according to InsideHigherEd, comes as the U.S. Department of Education is poised to issue new regulations that would “assess vocational programs based on the ratio of their graduates’ student loan debt to their incomes,” the story notes.

The Career College Association has suggested instead that its programs provide prospective students  “with more robust information on job placement and loan burdens to keep students from taking on untenable debt burdens.”

This debate is an important one to watch because it comes at a time when President Barack Obama has stated his desire for more U.S.  students to earn college degrees. The Career College Association insists that their schools open doors for thousands of Americans to better jobs, credentials, training — and, of course, degrees.

But at what cost?

Liz Willen