Tuesday, May 10, 2011

War on For-Profit Schools Hits Community Colleges

The objective of having community colleges is to provide low-cost education to those who, for whatever reason, find four-year universities inaccessible. The idea behind supporting and subsidizing non-profit community colleges seems to be to give opportunity specifically to low-income students, those who require flexibility in education and those looking to acquire real world skills without the protracted course of study offered by full-time four year universities.

Beyond that, these schools are most-definitely not for profit, which should take them off the government’s radar when it comes to budget cuts and federal loan determinations. They are nearly the perfect fit for the administration’s alleged commitment to bettering the quality of life for all Americans, since they eat up taxpayer funds and require intense oversight, yet their non-profit status allows them to function outside of the market, allowing the ranks of teachers to become permeated with the unqualified and, more importantly, the Democratic, without fear of backlash from consumers. In short, their format and existence is beloved by the Department of Education.

And yet, they, too, live in fear of the administration’s heavy hand.
More than one million community college students in 31 states do not have access to federal student loans because their institutions choose not to offer them, according to a new report by the Project on Student Debt. (The report is a followup to a 2008 study by the group, and finds modest changes since then.) Many community college administrators fear that participation in the federal loan program would put their students at risk of losing federal financial aid if too many students at the institutions do not repay their loans. The report notes that there are “persistent racial and ethnic disparities,” with nearly one in five Native American students and one in six African-American students attending community colleges that do not participate in the federal loan program.
That fear stems from the administration’s recent and ongoing attack on for-profit colleges. Looking to run the institutions out of business, officials in the Department of Education, their cronies in Congress and a host of characters from Wall Street and beyond have been looking for ways to destroy the institutions’ student body.

Their most effective weapon? The so-called “Gainful Employment” rule, which ties available federal funding directly to the success for-profit college graduates have in finding a job. Never mind that four-year institutions, which as of late have had miserable job-placement rates, have seen federal student loan increase even as the economy has declined, or that for-profit colleges tend to serve the under-privileged, lower-income and minority communities, they’ve continued with their attacks unabated. Now, community colleges, who face the same hurdles as for-profits, fear that the administration will respond to their rates of success with a similar backhand.

In response, they’ve kept federal loan rates low, preferring to take government subsidies rather than federal grants. That means, of course, that the schools are receiving the money their students might have normally, using tax dollars to cover overhead, teachers salaries and other expenses. Their students, who, like at for-profits, number among the under-privileged, lower-income and minority communities, who could use the federal grant money for housing, food and shelter while they work to better their lives are forced to look for assistance from private loans or forgo education entirely.

Think about that carefully. These organizations, who would rather allow their students to go without grant money lest they take federal loans and default, are lauded as models by the federal government that claims it has done so much to help the poor. If they allowed these students to take the loans, they would be terrible institutions, and likely targeted just like for-profit institutions. But because they would rather take the money for themselves than for the students, the government believes they are, for lack of a better word, good. The government is, in essence, encouraging even it’s own entities to become wastes of taxpayer dollars instead of allowing individuals looking for education and opportunity to become good uses for taxpayer investment.

Of course, this would probably be the logic they’d teach in four year institutions.

Big Government