Inspector General Urges Keeping College Accountability Measures

Although some federal higher ed accountability measures have been ineffective, they should be preserved and strengthened, not scrapped, the Department of Education's inspector general says in a report released Monday. 

The report's conclusions contradict the approach Republican lawmakers would take to accountability for colleges and universities in House legislation and a Senate GOP white paper. And it appears to give ammunition to critics who argue that a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act must maintain existing protections, especially those targeting for-profit colleges.

The PROSPER Act, which House Republicans advanced out of committee in December, would eliminate separate definitions of nonprofit and for-profit institutions. It would also kill the 90-10 rule, which limits the proportion of revenue a college can generate from federal student aid, and the gainful-employment rule, which holds career education programs accountable for producing too many graduates with debt they can't repay. 

The inspector general's report found that both measures could be improved but said the for-profit sector was deserving of special scrutiny.

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