- The U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday made available to the public a list of 556 higher education institutions under financial scrutiny.
- The reasons for each institution's place on the list varies from what Under Secretary Ted Mitchell described as "serious to less troublesome" and includes such issues as late financial statements and problems with accreditation.
- Despite only serving a tenth of all U.S. college students, for-profit institutions accounted for half of the list, which also included a number of University of Puerto Rico campuses, bible schools, state schools, and 32 foreign schools in Israel, Australia, Canada, and elsewhere, according to the Wall Street Journal.
This release follows an Inside Higher Ed story about the department's refusal to reveal the colleges and universities under scrutiny. The Department of Education's reasoning was that doing so would damage the reputations and business models of the institutions named. That consideration is particularly notable, as last year's shuttering of Corinthian Colleges was largely pinned on the department's decision to freeze funding to the for-profit chain.
That half of the list features other for-profit institutions is also not likely to come as a shock to those watching the space. Federal officials have been pressing for tighter regulations on the companies operating those schools in recent years, for issues ranging from funding to marketing practices, though it has been speculated that the new Republican Congress could ease up on those efforts. Still, with this kind of attention, it's easy to throw shade on all for-profits as being problematic, which is also not the case.
Regardless of institution type, it will be interesting to see how this revelation impacts all of the schools involved in the long run. Building on the department's original argument, will students still be as likely to enroll in a school identified as having financial trouble? It's not inconceivable that at least a few of these institutions could be irreparably damaged — though that's also arguably just the market at work.