Whom will for-profit schools serve going forward?

Lots of discussion of Secretary Duncan's proposed new rules at for-profit colleges with The Hechinger Report today on "Here and Now"

Since U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan proposed a slew of new rules he wants for-profit schools to follow, discussions have continued about what role the schools should play going forward. The questions were front-and-center during a discussion The Hechinger Report had on Monday with Robin Young on WBUR’s “Here and Now” in Boston.

For-profits also have been on the mind of civil rights leaders, mindful of President Barack Obama’s goal of getting more Americans to complete college degrees.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce said the new rules would “disproportionately harm low-income and minority populations by discriminating against students who must borrow the needed tuition to attend college,” according to InsideHigherEd, which also reported that MANA, a national Latina organization, is concerned about how the new rules could possibly impact Hispanic students’  access to higher education.

For-profit colleges have been in the news a great deal lately, in part because of intense press coverage and also because Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) held a series of hearings in an attempt to examine federal education spending at the schools. He and others have expressed particular concern about the level of debt the schools leave graduates in.

The WBUR conversation included details of what kinds of offerings are available at for-profit colleges, where enrollment has almost tripled over the last decade and where the cost can be 17 times as much as at community colleges. What is the quality of the education, and how do these schools further President Obama’s college completion goals?

Stephen Burd of the New America Foundation noted in a recent blog post that the Obama administration “has come not to bury the for-profit college sector but to try and help save it from itself.”

The proposed new rules, he wrote, “are designed to strengthen the sector so that these schools are truly able to deliver on the promises they make.”