Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Rein in loan excesses at for-profit schools

If at first government doesn't succeed at reining in exploitative for-profit colleges, it must try again. Renewed efforts by the Obama administration to crack down on exploitative for-profit programs are good for unsuspecting students and taxpayers. To ensure the health of the federal financial aid system for future generations, the government must find a way to prevent bad actors from getting a share.

The for-profit sector is a fast-growing subset of higher education, where steep tuitions can be heavily subsidized through federal student aid programs but default rates are far higher than at nonprofit private or public institutions. Not all for-profit colleges are suspect. But a 2012 U.S. Senate investigation found that many deployed aggressive recruitment tactics, preying on the poor and ill-prepared who rely on federal student aid to attend. Some compare the situation to the subprime mortgage crisis that saw unprepared buyers take out loans they couldn't afford.

For-profit students make up about 13 percent of the nation's college enrollment, but they gobble up about a quarter of all federal student aid each year. More than half of the sector's students withdraw by the end of two years. Those who do graduate are often buried by debt and qualified only for jobs that will never enable them to repay their loans. The result: For-profit students account for about 47 percent of loan defaults. Meanwhile, college executives and shareholders pocket huge sums. As much as 90 percent of a school's revenue can come from federal student aid.

Two years ago, President Barack Obama tried to rein in for-profit colleges. Proposed Education Department rules would have blocked federal student aid to career training programs whose graduates showed poor debt-to-income ratios and loan repayment rates. But a judge last year struck down a key test of the so-called "gainful employment" rules, saying regulators had established an arbitrary debt repayment ratio that a college's graduates must meet. The judge did confirm the department had the authority to regulate exploitative programs.

Now the Obama administration's challenge is to find a defensible way to differentiate exploitative for-profit colleges from their legitimate competitors. In April, the Education Department announced it is seeking input on how to do that. The entire higher education industry should engage. A strong federal financial aid system is one in which needy students get the help they need to successfully obtain a valuable credential and taxpayers are repaid, too.

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Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18