Competition from public colleges and more regulations are expected.
More regulatory oversight and competition with public colleges could be in store for the for-profit sector under the Biden administration.
The president-elect is expected to revive key Obama-era regulations on for-profits, and he has pledged to fund free college initiatives at public two- and four-year schools. That’s in addition to other proposals to give more money to private nonprofit and public colleges.
How the administration will carry out its plans, and to what extent, depends partly on whether Republicans keep Senate control. And it’s early in the transition, so much of what comes to pass for the for-profit sector will depend on who fills key leadership roles at the U.S. Department of Education, higher education observers say.
The for-profit sector has also changed over the past several years, with the number of institutions and enrollment shrinking largely as a result of prior regulations that raised the bar on student outcomes. Some large for-profit college operators, meanwhile, have taken up a new business model that sees them offering services to colleges rather than running them.
“For the past four years (for-profits have) had a nice landscape to where they, I think, have felt pretty comfortable,” said Wesley Whistle, senior adviser for higher education policy and strategy at New America, a left-leaning think tank.