April 30th 2015: New legislation aiming to protect students and taxpayers has been introduced to Congress by three Democrats, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), and U.S. Representatives Mark Takano (CA-41) and Susan Davis (CA-53). The Protections and Regulations for Our Students Act (PRO Students Act) is a comprehensive bill that calls for further restrictions on for-profit college activities. The bill aims to curb practices that take advantage of vulnerable students.
The government has previously required for-profit schools to derive 10% of their funding from sources other than federal student aid, which includes military and veteran education benefits. The bill would require schools to acquire 15% of their funding from alternative sources, to ensure schools diversify their revenue stream and not take advantage of federal student aid dollars. If enacted, the new legislation would also prohibit schools from using federal aid dollars for marketing and recruiting initiatives. Additionally, the bill also calls for strengthening student protection, which includes launching a complaint tracking system, establishing a Student Relief Fund and improving transparency and availability of information for students from for-profit schools. The Department of Education would launch a new oversight committee to monitor and prioritize program reviews, further ensuring the compliance of for-profit schools.
The nation is demanding that the government hold predatory institutions accountable. But it's important to note that not all for-profit institutions are corrupt. Many provide a much needed alternative education solution for non-traditional students. Though the industry will have to navigate an ever-increasing web of regulations and oversight, the schools that strive provide quality education and positive student outcomes should be able to continue to thrive.
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