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Higher Education Quality and Accountability

Higher Education Quality and Accountability

Where Government Fails to Help Defrauded Students, Advocates Step In

For most students, higher education is a smart investment that pays off. But there are still too many students whom our higher education system fails. 

Despite significant improvements in college access and substantial investments from students, families, and taxpayers, our system of higher education is underperforming. We need to raise the floor for quality in higher education and ensure strong protections against predatory practices. We also need policies that incentivize progress in addressing persistent disparities in student outcomes. 

Today, there are no meaningful penalties for institutions that persistently fail and prey on students, and only limited financial incentives and supports to help colleges improve. Federal and state policymakers must take action by implementing stronger quality control policies. Through our investments in research, policy, advocacy and litigation, Arnold Ventures is building a higher education system that ensures students are better off for having attended higher education and that taxpayers aren’t left holding the bag for unscrupulous institutions.

Image: A student in line for his diploma wears a cap decorated with the cost of his education during graduation ceremonies in May 2015 at the University of Idaho. (Orlin Wagner/The Associated Press)

Proportion of colleges projected to provide students with no lifetime return on investment Source
Overrepresentation of students of color at for-profit colleges, relative to their overall enrollment Source
Proportion of all student loan borrowers projected to default on their loans within 20 years Source
$3.6 billion
Taxpayer dollars that went to institutions last year that graduated fewer than 25% of their students.
Higher Education

Shattered: Faces of the For-Profit College Crisis

Each year, tens of thousands of American students are harmed by predatory colleges and universities. These are their voices. These are their stories.

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Requests for Proposals


Arnold Ventures funds projects to understand problems and identify policy solutions.

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