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Democratic Legislation Targets For-Profit Colleges

March 27, 2019
 
 

Senator Maggie Hassan, a New Hampshire Democrat, and Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, introduced broad-ranging legislation Tuesday targeting the for-profit college sector.

The bill would adjust the so-called 90-10 rule, which limits the amount of revenue for-profit colleges can take in from federal sources, and set a new cap at 85 percent. It would also end a loophole allowing for-profits to receive veteran student aid like GI Bill benefits without having it count against their cap.

The bill also would add new required reviews of for-profit colleges that convert to nonprofit status. And it would codify Obama-era regulations like gainful employment and borrower defense, which were opposed by proprietary colleges and which Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has sought to roll back.

Senate lawmakers are discussing a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which would be the first update to the HEA since 2008. Senator Lamar Alexander, the GOP chairman of the Senate education committee, has pushed for a new accountability framework that would apply the same rules to all colleges. But Democrats have signaled they won't sign on to a bill that doesn't include any special standards for for-profits.

The legislation from Hassan and Durbin, who has been one of the most outspoken critics of the for-profit colleges among Senate Democrats, either maintains or ratchets up oversight of the sector.

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