Higher Education Improvement

The Wall Street Journal has a summary of the House’s The Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, to be proposed this week.  It’s aimed at

filling that gap [in college graduates’ skills, with 6 million jobs left begging] by both deregulating parts of the sector and laying the conditions for shorter, faster pathways to the workforce. The act focuses on ensuring students don’t just enroll in school, but actually graduate with skills that the labor market is seeking.

Highlights include these:

  • revamp of the $1.34 trillion federal student loan program
    • graduate students and parents of undergraduates would have overall caps on tuition and living expense loans, instead of borrowing whatever schools charge.
    • end loan-forgiveness programs for public-service employees
    • eliminate a program that ties monthly payments to income levels for private-sector workers.
  • community colleges would get more funding to team with the private sector and create or expand apprenticeships and learn and earn programs
  • for-profit college sector would be on equal footing with nonprofit schools regarding limits on federal aid and measurements of graduate success: overall, competency-based education
  • functional repeal of the gainful employment regulation, which ties access to federal student aid to whether career programs lead to decent-paying jobs. Government will no longer be the decider of what jobs are suitable; the graduate and employer will.
  • increased accountability of schools by improving the quality of information available to prospective students
  • “historically black” and developing Hispanic schools would have to provably graduate or transfer at least 25% of their students in order to get funding from the pile otherwise earmarked for these schools
  • require schools to pay back some portion of federal loans if the student didn’t rather than leaving the schools strictly as loan generators that get the proceeds from the loans without regard to suitability or outcome.

All in all, this could represent a major improvement to our higher community college/college/university education system, especially in its core: graduates’ employability and the costs incurred (and by whom) in achieving that employability.

Naturally, the colleges and universities, whose funding oxen are going to get gored, will squawk.  Ignore them, and move past the dinosaurs and vested interests.

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