Coalition of For-Profit Colleges to Write Self-Regulation Standards

April 22, 2011

The Coalition for Educational Success, a lobbying group made up of for-profit colleges, announced Thursday that it was working to formulate "standards of responsible conduct" by which its member institutions would have to abide. The coalition includes more than 20 institutions that enroll 350,000 students, and has been at the forefront of the pushback against proposed federal gainful employment regulations.

Very few details were available Thursday about the standards, which are still being formulated and will be released within 90 days, said Penny Lee, managing director of the coalition. They would include more disclosure to prospective students on tuition costs, student debt and job placement, as well as guidelines for financial aid, enrollment and career placement, as well as a way to enforce the regulations. The standards will be compiled by two former governors, Thomas Kean, a Republican who led New Jersey for two terms in the 1980s, and Ed Rendell, who was Pennsylvania's Democratic governor from 2002 until January of this year, as well as "probably another four or five individuals from a variety of different aspects of higher education," Lee said.

Lee said the effort was intended in part to dispel criticism about for-profit colleges. "What we are trying to show and demonstrate is that this sector is a sector that plays a critical role, not only in education, but in the workforce and economy of this country," she said. The standards were described in vague terms, but Campus Progress, a liberal group, has already criticized the effort. "[I]f the Wall Street collapse taught us anything, it is that self-policing is at best ineffective, and at worst disastrous," the group said in a release.

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