Inspector General Pushes for Stronger Higher Ed Accountability Measures

The U.S. Education Department's Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report on Monday criticizing Republican lawmakers' efforts to roll back certain regulations—aimed at holding colleges and universities accountable for the federal funds they receive—as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), Inside Higher Ed reported.

The independent watchdog's report outlines some of its recommendations for rewriting the HEA, as well as concerns with the House education committee-approved Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, H.R. 4508, and a Senate GOP white paper on higher education accountability. It concludes that although certain accountability measures have been ineffective, they should be preserved and strengthened, not rescinded.

Specifically, the report cites proposals to eliminate 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 high student debt. The OIG found that both measures could be improved but said that the for-profit sector was deserving of special scrutiny, reported Inside Higher Ed.

"As the OIG has testified before Congress on issues involving proprietary schools over the years, the sector continues to present itself as a high-risk area for the Department," the report says. "This sector, unlike public and nonprofit schools, must produce profit for owners and stockholders, which can create an incentive to evade compliance with obligations to students and taxpayers."

The report found that eliminating existing accountability rules without a proven substitute would create higher risks for students and taxpayers, including higher costs to offer credit through loans due to excessive borrowing, increased defaults, and increased loan discharges that could negatively impact the long-term viability of federal programs.


Related Links

U.S. Education Department's Office of Inspector General Report

Inside Higher Ed