Senate Democrats last week issued a set of principles they say should guide the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, among them: college affordability, access for low-income students, safety on campuses and accountability for institutions.
They released the document shortly after Tennessee senator Lamar Alexander's office issued a staff white paper focusing on accountability. That paper suggested that a loan repayment rate measure would be more appropriate than the existing cohort default rate benchmark designed to put colleges on the hook for high student loan defaults. But it appeared to endorse dropping the 90-10 rule and the gainful-employment rule that targets poor-performing career education programs. Both rules improperly addressed only one sector of higher ed, the paper said.
The Democrats' principles, in contrast, say that it is more important than ever to provide extra scrutiny of for-profit colleges after the collapse of Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech. The paper also said accountability should involve better data on student outcomes, including the repeal of a ban on a federal student-level data system.