Senate Democrats Propose For-Profit College Oversight Committee

Lawmakers hope to create an interagency committee that can coordinate oversight and create a
1 min read

Share this Article

  • If enacted, the committee must publish a "For-Profit College Warning List" of schools that engage in predatory practices.
  • Three Democratic senators introduced this legislation near the end of the congressional session.
  • President Joe Biden's administration has emphasized for-profit oversight during his first two years in office.

Democratic lawmakers this week said oversight of for-profit colleges is too scattered and now requires a central committee to keep tabs on preventing predatory behavior.

Three Democrats in the U.S. Senate, led by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, on Wednesday proposed the Proprietary Education Interagency Oversight Coordination Improvement Act. The bill would link federal agencies with a committee dedicated to tracking and overseeing for-profit — also known as proprietary — colleges and universities.

"Predatory for-profit colleges aim to rake in billions in federal student aid rather than to provide a quality education to students, who are often left buried in debt with a near-meaningless degree," Durbin said in a statement. "We cannot let this industry continue to take advantage of students without proper federal oversight."

Notably, this committee would maintain a database called the "For-Profit College Warning List."

This list would include institutions that meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Have engaged in illegal activities
  • Have shown sufficient evidence of widespread or systemic fraudulent practices
  • Have shown sufficient evidence of widespread or systemic predatory practices

An oversight committee, if approved, would also create an "easily accessible" complaint collection and tracking system to monitor for-profit institutions. And the committee would be tasked with improving the enforcement of federal laws and regulations designed to keep the industry in check.

An annual report detailing all actions taken against for-profit colleges and universities would be required.

The interagency committee would include:

  • The Department of Education
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • The Department of Justice
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission
  • The Department of Defense
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs
  • The Federal Trade Commission
  • The Department of Labor
  • The Internal Revenue Service

Creating this committee has been a longstanding goal for Durbin. He first introduced the bill in April 2014 and again in February 2015. He has not, however, introduced the bill in nearly eight years.

Congress is entering its "lame-duck" session, which starts after the midterm elections and ends when the new Congress is sworn in this January.

It's unclear what this lame-duck Congress' goals may be, but President Joe Biden has prioritized oversight of the for-profit college industry during his first two years in office. He has mostly done so, however, through regulatory changes.