June 5, 2012

Federal Appeals Court Tosses Out Lobby Group’s Attempt To Block Accountability For Predatory For-Profit Schools

Today a federal appeals court in Washington, DC, issued a decision in a challenge by the for-profit college lobbying group APSCU to regulations issued by the Obama Administration. The regulations are aimed at combatting well-documented deceptive and misleading recruiting activities by some for for-profit schools, activities that have lured many students into low-quality programs and, eventually, insurmountable debt from student loans. In today’s decision, the panel of appellate judges upheld the bulk of the challenged provisions, but invalidated a few and sent back others to the Department of Education for better explanations of why they were necessary.  (APSCU has mounted a separate court challenge, pending before a federal trial judge, to the Administration’s “gainful employment” rule, which would cut off federal aid for career education programs that consistently leave students deep in debt.)

Today’s decision demonstrates that if you hire a good enough lawyer, you can find flaws in a complex administrative process and make the government redo parts of that process.  But for the most part the Court of Appeals upheld the regulations, and I think in the end the courts will allow the Administration to address what is a fundamental problem: waste, fraud, and abuse with taxpayer dollars by bad actors in the $35 billion for-profit college sector, and resulting harms to hundreds of thousands of students across the country.