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Citing Shutdown, U.S. Cancels Gainful Employment Negotiating Session

The U.S. Education Department, citing the partial shutdown of the federal government, has canceled the second round of negotiations over regulations on vocational programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions.  

The department will reschedule the negotiated-rulemaking session when the government reopens, Lynn Mahaffie, the acting deputy assistant secretary for policy, planning and innovation, wrote in a letter on Friday to members of the rule making committee. The session was originally slated for October 21-23.

The panel is tasked with rewriting the "gainful employment" regulations that were thrown out by a federal judge earlier this year. The rules would cut off federal money flowing to career-training programs if they do not meet certain standards that measure their graduates’ earnings relative to the graduates’ student loan debt.

The Obama administration is proposing tighter standards that would apply to more vocational programs. At the first negotiating session last month, it appeared unlikely that negotiators would come to a consensus on the rules. Even if the committee doesn’t reach an agreement, the Education Department could still move forward with its own proposal. 

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Suspension of military education benefits forces some students to drop out

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The suspension of tuition assistance for active-duty service members during the shutdown is jeopardizing their academic progress and forcing some to withdraw from classes.

California Attorney General Sues Corinthian

Kamala D. Harris, California's attorney general, on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges, alleging that the for-profit chain targeted low-income students with false and predatory advertising. The suit alleges that Corinthian, which operates Everest, Heald and WyoTech Colleges, misled potential students about job placement rates. A Corinthian spokesman, in a written statement, said company officials had not had time to review the suit in detail. But the company plans to "vigorously" defend itself, he said.

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Student Arrested for Trying to Poison Pregnant Professor

A student at Virginia College’s Augusta, Ga., campus has been arrested for allegedly giving her pregnant professor a tainted snack cake. Diane Ambrose was charged with reckless conduct after offering her professor a sealed cake she had injected with a foreign substance through the wrapper, WRDW-TV reported. The Richmond County Sheriff's Office says the 12-week-pregnant professor developed a stomach ailment two weeks ago, after eating the treat. Another student knew about Ambrose's alleged plan, but didn’t tell the professor until she knew she had become sick.

Virginia College did not return a call for comment on the condition of the professor and Ambrose's student status. Ambrose, arrested Wednesday, was out on bail Thursday.

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Feds Float Idea of Program-Level Loan Default Rate

An official with the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday suggested that a panel of negotiators consider including a program-level cohort default rate as part of proposed gainful employment regulations, which would would measure the employment outcomes of vocational programs at for-profit institutions and community colleges. That metric would be a new addition to an annual debt-to-income ratio and a discretionary income ratio.

John Kolotos, the official, who is a negotiator for the rule-making session that began this week, said the department had not vetted the details on how a loan default rate would work. But the department already has an institution-level rate in place, and he said the feds consider a three-year program-level rate of 30 percent (and one year at 40 percent) to be a "viable addition" to gainful employment. It would be a stand-alone measure, he said, meaning academic programs would lose eligibility for federal aid programs if they crossed the threshold, regardless of how they perform on other measures. 

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Education Dept.'s Regulatory Push Is Needed, Inspector General Finds

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Education Department’s attempts to regulate colleges and universities over the past several years provide good protections for students and taxpayers, the department’s independent investigatory arm has concluded.    

The report by the department’s inspector general was released on the second day of a negotiated rule-making hearing aimed at rewriting the department’s controversial gainful employment regulations. It finds that some type of gainful employment metrics are needed to hold colleges accountable and to protect taxpayer money. The report also applauds the department’s efforts to define a credit hour and require institutions of higher education to be authorized by the state in which they operate.

The inspector general’s office relied on its previous audits and investigations to produce the analysis. It did not appear to evaluate the impact of the regulations or weigh alternative rule proposals.

Representative George Miller, the ranking Democrat on the House education committee, sought the study from the Education Department’s inspector general in response to legislation being pushed by House Republicans to repeal those regulations and prohibit the Obama administration from enacting new ones. The proposal cleared the Republican-led House education committee in July on a mostly party-line vote, with one Democrat supporting the measure. 

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Horn and Kelly on book about role of for-profits

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A new book of essays looks at the role for-profit providers can play in higher education, particularly how they could help promote quality and cost effectiveness. 

Ashford Clears Another Accreditation Hurdle

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools has lifted the sanction of "on notice" from Ashford University, according to a corporate filing from Bridgepoint Education, the for-profit university's holding company. The commission had been concerned that Ashford would not meet its new standards for accreditation, including a requirement for colleges to have a "substantial presence" in the regional accreditor's geographical domain. But the university apparently resolved those issues. In a related action, Ashford's biggest accreditation victory this year has been to successfully transfer its status to the Western Association of Colleges and Schools, a move that took two tries.

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U. of Phoenix President to Retire

William J. Pepicello will retire as president of the University of Phoenix after seven years in the job, the institution announced Wednesday. Pepicello, who has worked at the for-profit university since 1995, has navigated Phoenix through both strong growth and the contraction that much of his sector has encountered post-recession, and has been a visible presence at meetings of higher education leaders.

Law School in Charleston Confirms It Is for Sale

The owners of the Charleston School of Law announced Wednesday they plan to sell the institution to the InfiLaw System, which operates a chain of for-profit law schools, The State reported. A recent announcement by the law school that it was turning over some management functions to InfiLaw set off concerns from some students and alumni that the arrangement would lead to a sale. Critics of the idea say that it would decrease the value of the law school's degrees, while law school officials say a sale would bolster the institution.

 


Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2013/08/28/2947046/sale-of-charleston-school-of-law.html#storylink=cpy
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