Volume 101 - Issue 2 Georgetown Law Journal

Could a Self-Regulatory Organization Work? An Examination of For-Profit Higher Education and One Potential Solution

“Of course, the education race doesn’t end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within the reach of every American. . . . If we take these steps, if we raise expectations for every child and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they are born until the last job they take, we will reach the goal that I set two years ago: By the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”

In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama reaffirmed an ambitious educational goal: for the United States once again to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. This dramatic change will require taking a 2010 postsecondary enrollment of approximately 21 million students and increasing it by fifty percent over the next four years during a time when increases in educational attainment have appeared modest at best.

One of the most controversial issues in higher education has been determin- ing the role of for-profit educational institutions. Traditional, four-year, non- profit institutions may carry the bulk of postsecondary student enrollment, but these schools cannot accommodate the dramatic influx of students that President Obama hopes to see, even with the support of two-year community colleges. Estimates suggest that for-profit educational institutions account for twelve percent of all postsecondary education enrollment, though there is some suggestion that the percentage may be even higher. For-profit educational institutions have also experienced some of the most rapid growth in postsecondary education over the last decade, suggesting that their act is here to stay.

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