THE BLOG
03/24/2014 11:25 am ET Updated May 24, 2014

Should Schools Be More Accountable for Student Loan Cost?

The Department of Education is proposing new rules tomorrow that would make for-profit colleges, universities and schools be more responsible for the education and cost of that education provided to students in programs which prepare student for gainful employment.

The government is concerned a number of these postsecondary educational programs are neither accountable nor transparent to students enrolling in these expensive programs, leaving student stuck with massive student loan debt and unable to make wise decisions before signing on the dotted line.

To remain eligible for government student loans these for-profit schools would need to provide information to enrolling students to better help them make informed decisions about the income from the field of study versus the cost of education.

The Department of Education (DOE) has observed that the for-profit schools are not alone in the cost versus benefit problem occurring and the new proposed regulations would also cover non-degree programs at public and private non-profit institutions like community colleges.

Specifically the DOE is concerned about the number of such programs which do not train students in the skills they need to obtain and maintain jobs in the occupation for which the program alleges to provide training for. The DOE is also on the lookout for education sold for occupations which pay low wages and do not justify the program cost.

Schools will also need to be responsible for their "churn" rate. This is when there are a high number of withdrawals or the schools fail to graduate students through the completed field of study.

Along with the quality and completion of the educational program sold to students the DOE is also concerned about students being being misled and the pressure being applied to prospective students and their families which distorts their ability to make critical decisions regarding investments in education.

Because of this the DOE wants to adopt accountability and transparency disclosures that will not only help prospective students make wiser choices before investing in education, but will also control which schools will remain eligible for access to government loans for their training programs.

The accountability framework is designed to define what it means to prepare students for gainful employment by establishing measures that would assess whether programs provide quality education and training to their students that lead to earnings that will allow students to pay back their student loan debts.

The transparency framework is designed to establish reporting and disclosure requirements that would increase the transparency of student outcomes of gainful employment programs so that information is disseminated to students, prospective students, and their families that is accurate and comparable and could help them make better informed decisions about where to invest their time and money in pursuit of a postsecondary degree or credential.

If you feel this is something the Department of Education should put into action the DOE is asking for consumer feedback.

Beginning on March 25, 2014, you will be able to provide your opinions about this new proposed gainful employment regulation by going to www.regulations.gov and searching for ED-2014-OPE-0039. I think this link will do the trick as well. You can submit your comments electronically. You will only have until May 25, 2014 to provide your feedback.

If you think schools should be more responsible about the cost and quality of the education they provide students and should have to disclose that information, take the time to post you comments and feedback to the Department of Education.

If you want to read the entire proposed regulations, click here.

Steve

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