I was unaware of this flip-flop
It's hard for me to believe that Democrats ever supported for-profits, but evidently they did. They were for them before they were against them. From The Atlantic.
In Congress, on the presidential campaign trail, and in the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal, Republicans have been unified in the belief that the Obama administration badly overreached in its attempts to regulate for-profit career colleges that leave graduates unable to pay off student debt with income from the jobs for which they were trained. Rolling back the Obama administration’s so-called “gainful employment” requirements for postsecondary career programs is thought to top the GOP’s current higher-education agenda.
What’s surprising about this GOP consensus is that it is deeply at odds with conservative practice: Republican administrations, dating back to President Eisenhower, have traditionally pressed for tighter regulation of for-profit colleges, often over the objections of Democratic lawmakers.
In earlier eras, Democrats such as Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator Paul Simon defended for-profit colleges from government regulation, citing the role that the schools played in preparing low-income students, single mothers, minorities, and dislocated workers for jobs in specific fields—the very same defenses that Republicans employ today. Charles Kolb, who served in the Education Department during the Reagan administration and in George H.W. Bush’s White House observed dryly last year that “There are future doctoral dissertations waiting to be written about how and why Democrats and Republicans reversed positions on the merits of the for-profit trade-school sector.”
Doctoral dissertations aside, some conservatives are puzzled to learn of the prior Republican crackdowns on poorly performing and predatory for-profit colleges. Why would conservatives support laws and regulations that impose government-mandated accountability on for-profit colleges, instead of letting the invisible hand of the free market ferret out the institutions that thrive or fail?
The answer is simple. Far from being free-market paragons, accredited for-profit schools typically depend on federal student-aid programs for 75 percent or more of their revenues. (Trump University was an unaccredited for-profit school and thus ineligible for federal aid). Conservatives have long asserted the need to regulate for-profit colleges because they have long maintained that schools which depend heavily on federal aid ought to be held accountable for their use of taxpayer dollars.