A data mistake the U.S. Department of Education made last year has become a rallying cry for critics of regulations the Obama administration created to rein in for-profit colleges.
Just before President Trump’s inauguration, the department disclosed that a coding error in its College Scorecard had substantially inflated colleges’ student loan repayment rates. One expert estimated that when the correct data were considered, the national three-year repayment rate (meaning the proportion of borrowers who have repaid at least a dollar of their principal loan balance) fell to 41 percent from 61 percent.
While embarrassing, the department said its goof does not affect any of its other tools for measuring student loan repayment rates or other data in the Scorecard.
For-profit-college officials and several lawyers have a different take. They say...