Are Demographics Destiny? Student Advocates and For-Profit Colleges Disagree

Student and consumer groups, worried that the Education Department is considering softening its proposed “gainful employment” rule, are challenging a study that suggests that demographics drive student outcomes.

In a brief published on Wednesday, the group Young Invincibles argues that the study, which was commissioned by the Association of Proprietary Colleges and published in May, suffers from methodological flaws and a “biased framing of the results.”

At issue is the question of whether debt-to-income ratios and cohort default rates—the metrics that the proposed rule would use to judge colleges—are fair proxies for institutional quality. Put simply: Do they measure the success of an institution, or the types of students they enroll?

The proposed rule, which the Education Department plans to finalize in October, would cut off federal aid to career-oriented programs whose graduates fail to meet benchmarks on those metrics. For-profit colleges have strongly opposed the rule, saying it would deny educational access to as many as 7.5 million students over the next decade. <Read more.>

Via Kelly Field, The Chronicle of Higher Education.