Obama targets diploma mills that market to vets

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, which represents for-profits, has called congressional attempts to add specific new protections for military families and veterans misguided at a time when the country will depend on such schools to help get millions more workers college-level training.

“Proposals like this only create more burdensome regulations affecting our ability to ensure that all Americans have access to a high-quality education,” the group said.

Quality at for-profit colleges varies widely, and many are a good fit for students, particularly adult learners looking for flexible scheduling and specialized career training that often requires a certificate but not a degree.

But while comparing graduation rates can be misleading for those reasons, for-profit schools on average have lower success rates than traditional colleges on a variety of measures.

The Senate report found that almost 2 million students withdrew from large for-profit colleges over a three-year period. Among those who enrolled at 10 large chains in 2008-2009, 54 percent had quit by the summer of 2010.

Meanwhile, the latest figures from the Education Department put the default rate on federal student loans for students at for-profit colleges at 15 percent, compared with 7.2 percent at public nonprofit universities and 4.6 percent at private nonprofit colleges.

The industry points out that’s partly because its schools tend to serve lower-income students. But difficulties transferring credits and having credentials from for-profit colleges rewarded in the job market also play a role.

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