Wouldn’t it be nice if taxpayers could enforce stricter rules on the federal government?

Michael Stratford of Inside Higher Ed reports.

‘Tough Love’ for Higher Ed

WASHINGTON — As policy makers here ponder new ways to hold colleges more accountable for how well they serve students, they should start by laying down some tougher minimum standards that institutions must meet to receive federal benefits, according to a new report published Wednesday by the Education Trust.

The policy paper — titled “Tough Love: Bottom-Line Quality Standards for Colleges” — calls for the federal government to demand better performance from a wide range of colleges and universities in exchange for the $180 billion it pours each year into student loans, grants and higher education tax breaks.

The authors, Michael Dannenberg and Mary Nguyen Barry of the Education Trust, a nonprofit that advocates for educational equity, propose an accountability system that sets requirements for how well colleges must enroll low-income students, graduate students, and produce graduates who can pay back their loans.

“No longer should federal higher education money flow unabated and unquestioned to institutions that neglect their public duty to educate successfully the students they admit and to enroll low-income students at least at a bare-minimum level,” they argue in the report.

Specifically, under the proposal, four-year colleges would face penalties if they were among the lowest-performing 5 percent of institutions in each of three categories: percentage of Pell Grant-eligible students; graduation rates; and loan repayment rates. The authors dub such low-performing institutions in each category, respectively, as “engines of inequality,” “college dropout factories,” and “diploma mills.”