NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — In an effort to consolidate oversight of the for-profit college industry, The Proprietary Education Oversight Coordination Improvement Act was introduced last week in the Senate by Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and in the House by Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland). The bill is expected to improve the enforcement of existing laws and hold for-profits accountable to taxpayers and students.

"Far too many students seeking the American dream are instead enrolling in schools that leave them with worthless degrees and burdensome debt," said Harkin, chair of the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pension Committee (HELP). "We need to do more to ensure that students attending these schools are receiving a quality education—one that justifies the billions of dollars taxpayers are spending each year."

"This legislation is common sense," Harkin continued. "Federal and state agencies must work together to ensure that these schools are held accountable to students and taxpayers—not just shareholders."

Added Senator Durbin, "Better co-ordination will help regulators prevent the ongoing fraudulent and abusive practices of this industry that rakes in more than $25 billion in federal dollars every year."

Rep. Cummings, ranking member on the Committee for Oversight and Government Reform, said that improved oversight created through this bill will help combat the deceptive practices that have been a blight on this industry. "My work will not stop until these students and our investment in these schools are protected," he said.

Students expecting instant gratification won't get it here, however. The Durbin-Harkin-Cummings bill won't get off the ground until an interagency committee - the Proprietary Education Oversight Coordination Committee – is formed and the agendas of multiple federal agencies are accommodated: the Department of Education, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Labor, the Federal Trade Commission and the IRS.

Because so many members of the armed forces have been whacked by these schools, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs will have a say.

If that weren't enough, the bill would require President Obama to appoint a Proprietary Education Oversight Coordination Committee, an interagency group made up of representatives from these federal agencies. The Committee would be required to:

  • Hold quarterly meetings as a group and annual meetings with state attorneys general to coordinate federal and state activities related to for-profit school oversight.
  • Publish a report on the for-profit college industry in order to compile, in one place, student complaints, data about student outcomes and financial information related to executive compensation, marketing and other metrics.
  • Publish a warning list of schools that have engaged in illegal activities for which there is sufficient evidence of widespread or systemic abuse.

All bets may be off if the bill doesn't become law by the mid-term election.