America’s system for safeguarding the billions of dollars spent on federal student aid is not up to the task.
Consider, for example, the downfall of the now defunct for-profit behemoth Corinthian Colleges. The abrupt closure of one of the largest college providers accused of defrauding students has already cost taxpayers $350 million in loan-forgiveness costs. The final bill to taxpayers could total as much as $3.5 billion.
After Corinthian’s fall and the failures of other low-quality for-profit colleges, eyes are now turning toward the once-obscure entities tasked with gatekeeping federal money, the accrediting agencies. The federal government charges these private, nonprofit organizations with measuring college quality, and an accreditor must give its stamp of approval that a college meets rigorous standards before it can access federal aid. Time and again, however, accreditors have signed off on colleges that are hurting students.The above excerpt was originally published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.