Washington, D.C. — Following the U.S. Department of Education’s release of new earnings data for graduates of career education programs, Center for American Progress Senior Director for Postsecondary Education Ben Miller issued the following statement:
Today’s data release shows that many students who attended for-profit colleges face such shockingly low earnings that it raises the question of whether graduates are seeing any meaningful income gains. In 2014, nearly one-third of for-profit certificate graduates had median earnings below the federal minimum wage. These individuals will struggle to subsist day to day—to say nothing of the debt payments they must make.
These new earnings data show how imperative it is that the Department of Education continue to enforce regulations that protect students from predatory career training programs. This especially includes the gainful employment regulation, which many in Congress now want to eliminate in the hopes of bad schools being able to declare open season on ripping off vulnerable students.
Since the administration took on this effort to improve program integrity, the for-profit college industry—and make no mistake, it is an industry—has resisted accountability. The sector receives $22 billion per year in federal aid, including $5 billion in Pell Grants. The earnings data show that there is an ongoing need to protect students from low-value programs and taxpayers from a squandered investment—and Congress should pay very close attention to the metrics outlined in today’s release.
This informational release is the first part of the accountability metrics created by the Obama administration’s gainful employment rule, which will identify and weed out poor-performing career education programs. Key findings from the earnings data, provided by the U.S. Department of Education, include:
- Overall, mean earnings of graduates of public undergraduate certificate programs are nearly $9,000 higher than mean earnings of graduates of for-profit undergraduate certificate programs.
- The median earnings of nearly one-third of graduates of for-profit certificate programs are less than the yearly income of a full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage—$14,500—even as students take on debt to complete these programs.
- At programs at the certificate level, 32 percent of students graduated from for-profit programs with median earnings below the federal minimum wage threshold.
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.478.63331.