Community Colleges

California Assembly Approves Bill to Revive Oversight of For-Profit Colleges

August 20, 2008

Berkeley, Calif. — The California Assembly approved a bill on Tuesday that would renew oversight of the state’s 1,700 for-profit colleges, the latest attempt to settle a long-running battle over how strictly the colleges should be regulated.

The 132-page measure, SB 823, was approved in a 43-to-32 vote and now heads to the Senate, the Contra Costa Times reported. The authority of the state agency that previously oversaw for-profit colleges expired on July 1, and lawmakers have been unable to agree on a way to restore it. Without such oversight, students at proprietary colleges are unable to file complaints or to recover expenses if their institutions go out of business.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has not taken a position on the bill.

The argument over for-profit colleges here, which is being watched closely in other states, has stretched on for several years. Consumer groups have argued that students need better protection and colleges need to report more-accurate data about their performance. Companies that own for-profit colleges have argued that bureaucratic red tape has prevented them from offering new programs.

“At least it gives students a place to complain to,” Betsy Imholz of the Consumers Union told the Times. “It’s not all we wanted, but it’s better than nothing.” —Josh Keller