New Education Department Rules Help Elite College Students at the Expense of Poor and Minorities

By Gov. BobJindal | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, May 28, 2014 | Go to article overview

New Education Department Rules Help Elite College Students at the Expense of Poor and Minorities


Gov. BobJindal, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


You have to hand it to President Obama: He sure does do a good job of socking it to the folks he claims to be helping.

Tuesday marked the end of the comment period on the Education Department's proposed new "gainful employment" regulations. While the administration says it wants to expand educational opportunities, the proposed rules would target community colleges and for-profit colleges -- institutions that educate disproportionately poor, minority, and working-class Americans.

But even as the administration imposes new burdens on schools educating non-traditional students, the Education Department would exempt all four-year colleges from the new rules. It creates a very simple bottom line: The proposed regulations will discourage these non-traditional schools from taking chances on students, and programs, that many elite schools wouldn't even bother considering in the first place.

Compare that attempt to decimate opportunities for non- traditional schools and students with the taxpayer largesse lavished on many elite universities. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that enrollment in certain types of student loan repayment plans soared by 40 percent in just six months. These plans, revamped and enhanced by Obama in 2011, cap graduates' repayment plans at a percentage of discretionary income, and forgive all outstanding loan balances in 20 years -- or 10 years for those in public service, as defined by the government.

The Journal also highlighted how elite professional schools are helping their graduates pay back their own student loans, until the federal government forgives their debt entirely. Until recently, Georgetown University's law school website bragged that "public interest borrowers might not pay a single penny on their student loans -- ever!"

It's nice work if you can get it. Georgetown -- with an endowment of "only" $1.3 billion -- spent $2 million covering the student loan payments of 432 law school graduates, an average of $4,629 per graduate. After 10 years at that average amount, Georgetown would have repaid the federal government less than what one year's worth of law school tuition costs now. But the federal government would forgive all the remaining debt -- leaving both the borrower and the institution off the hook for loan balances that could remain in the six figures.

Georgetown's law school dean claimed that his school's publicly stated policy of allowing students not to repay a dime in loans until the federal government forgives them outright "doesn't influence the prices the school charges its students." If you believe that, I've got some land I'd like to sell you. …

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