Betsy DeVos Isn't Taking a Stand Against For-Profit Colleges

The United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has been heavily criticized for her actions and remarks since she was confirmed. Prior to this, she was scrutinized during her nomination hearing due to her inability to answer simple questions about education. Recently, the U.S. Department of Education began dismantling a unit dedicated to investigating for-profit colleges.

According to The New York Times, this team consisted of about a dozen people at the end of the Obama administration, and investigated for-profit colleges—like University of Phoenix and DeVry University—accused of “fraud that involved misrepresenting enrollment benefits, job placement rates and program offerings, which could leave students with huge debts and no degrees.”

Currently, the team only includes three people with Julian Schmoke, a former dean of DeVry University, as the supervisor appointed by DeVos. The Obama administration controlled these colleges to protect students, but Vox reports DeVos has weakened regulations “that would have judged programs at for-profit colleges and vocational programs at all colleges on whether students earned enough money to repay their debts.” In addition, she changed guidelines regarding loan forgiveness for students who were victims of for-profit colleges.

The Wall Street Journal mentions that defenders of for-profit institutions argue that, because they serve “some of the nation’s most disadvantaged students,” shutting these colleges down limits options even further. This argument, however, neglects the fact that for-profit colleges take advantage of students, leaving them in significant debt without an adequate education that prepares them for the workforce.

The current presidential administration’s disregard for investigating and minimizing that abuse is disappointing and incredibly frustrating. Shutting down this investigation does not protect students, it protects an industry that profits off of students’ desires for higher education. DeVos’ actions make it clear that students are not her priority.