Duncan said ED's proposed rules would increase colleges' accountability to students.

Duncan said ED's proposed rules would increase colleges' accountability to students.

Some of the nation’s largest online colleges could be barred from tying recruiters’ pay to the number of students they enroll if the Obama administration’s new list of rules for for-profit institutions becomes federal policy.

The administration’s set of 14 proposed guidelines for for-profit colleges—announced June 16—was created in response to widespread student complaints of deceitful recruiting practices at some of the most profitable institutions.

Many of the proposals aim to ensure that federal aid is distributed only to students who are qualified to take college classes.

With the proliferation of high school “diploma mills,” for instance, the administration would require colleges to verify an applicant’s diploma if the school “has reason to believe that the diploma is not valid or was not obtained from an entity that provides secondary-school education.”

The federal guidelines also would end loopholes that allow colleges to link recruiter pay to their “success in securing student enrollment,” according to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announcement—a practice known as incentive compensation.

ED officials heard numerous complaints from current and former students who were encouraged to take out loans they could not afford and enroll in courses they were not qualified for, according to the department.

Public hearings during the formulation of the new federal proposals included “students enrolled in programs where they felt misled on what was and was not being offered, the way programs could be paid for, and their job prospects upon completion,” according to ED.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has stressed the need for more stringent regulations in for-profit college recruiting during his 18 months in office. Federal aid to for-profit schools has skyrocketed in recent years, going from $4.6 billion in 2000 to $26.5 billion in 2009, according to ED statistics.

“This is about accountability and protecting students,” Duncan said in a prepared statement…

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