The proposed regulations will help to strengthen students' options for higher education by giving all career-training programs an opportunity to improve, while ending federal funding to the lowest-performing institutions that fail to do so, the Education department said in a release.
"Higher education should open up doors of opportunity, but students in these low-performing programs often end up worse off than before they enrolled: saddled by debt and with few, if any, options for a career," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. "The proposed regulations address growing concerns about unaffordable levels of loan debt for students enrolled in these programs by targeting the lowest-performing schools, while giving all programs an opportunity to improve."
The affected programs include nearly all programs at for-profit institutions, as well as certificate programs at public and private non-profit institutions, such as community colleges, the department said.
The framework has three components: certification requirements, accountability metrics, and public disclosures. The proposal would distinguish programs providing affordable training that leads to well-paying jobs from programs that leave students with poor earnings potential and relatively high debt, or which leads to high student loan default rates, the department said.
While all programs would have an opportunity to improve under the proposed regulations, those with the worst outcomes -- high debt-to-earnings rates or high loan default rates -- would lose eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs to protect students and taxpayers.