(BOSTON) Today the U.S. Department of Education announced final rules to better protect online students and taxpayers from predatory and illegal actions by for-profit colleges. Expanding protections to online students is critical given the explosive growth into the sector by many of the same institutions that have been under government scrutiny for misconduct, such as Bridgepoint and the now-closed ITT.
“Distance online education is the fastest growing segment of higher education, with 1.2 million students recently enrolled in online education programs offered by out-of-state schools that participate in the federal student loan program,” said Abby Shafroth, an attorney for the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project. “Yet online education has remained the Wild West of the higher education world, with millions of federal student aid dollars at stake, few laws and no sheriff protecting students or taxpayers. We commend the Department of Education as this is a critical step toward ensuring that online students have the same rights and protections as students attending brick-and-mortar schools.”