From Friday’s op-ed in U.S. News & World Report
The federal government must increase college access while also ensuring college quality.
In a breathtaking acknowledgement the federal government bears some responsibility for college quality, the Obama administration announced this week that it will forgive the federal student loan debt of up to 350,000 Corinthian College students at a taxpayer cost of as much as $3.5 billion. Corinthian, the for-profit corporate parent to Heald College and Everest Institutes, was forced to shut down last month amid widespread charges of misrepresentation and fraud.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan went even further and said his agency would consider additional taxpayer-financed student loan debt forgiveness claims of those who went to other colleges – beyond Corinthian-owned – that may have defrauded their students. It’s a move against what the secretary described as “the ethics of payday lending in higher education.”
While bold, this latest student loan debt forgiveness move is in keeping with the deeper Obama higher education policy legacy. Throughout his tenure, the president has coupled massive increases in federal spending for college access and affordability with a groundbreaking insistence on quality results out of colleges. The increased investment was smart and the accountability tough, but more is required to assure the federal higher education investment and quality college programs.