The Foundation for Educational Success today released voluntary standards of conduct that would apply to for-profit colleges that sign on to the statement. The foundation, which is affiliated with the Coalition for Educational Success, a membership group representing for-profit institutions that collectively enroll more than 350,000 students, said that experts from higher education, business and government had developed the standards. Signatories will have one year to implement the requirements, which those behind it say "will provide strong new student protections; guidelines for training, enrollment and financial aid; and include an enforcement mechanism to ensure that participating schools adhere to the principles of the new standards."
The standards, which have been developed over a period of months, appear to be an attempt at self-regulation, with what sponsors call "rigorous third-party" enforcement. They cover several controversial areas for the industry, with recommendations that prohibit incentive compensation for admissions and financial aid employees, and that require disclosure to students of information about transferability of credit, entrance and exit loan counseling, and a trial period of 21 days during which students can withdraw without incurring tuition-related expenses. The major question that surrounds the standards -- one of several efforts by for-profit colleges to hold themselves accountable amid heavy government scrutiny -- is whether institutions will choose to participate.