Thursday, December 23, 2010
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) today welcomed a call by a bipartisan group of lawmakers for greater visibility into how and why the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revised its report on admissions and financial aid practices of private sector colleges and universities (PSCUs).
In a letter today, incoming House Oversight & Government Reform Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), along with Rep. John Kline (R-MN)—incoming Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee--Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) said, “In the same manner that GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars, Congress is entitled to hold GAO to the highest standards of ‘accountability, integrity, and reliability.’ Accordingly, we expect GAO to adhere to ‘strict professional standards of review and referencing,’ and to conduct thorough analysis and fact-checking.”
APSCU President Harris Miller said, “We understand that our institutions need to meet the highest standards of ethical conduct when it comes to student recruitment and all other aspects of school operations. Likewise, we share the concern expressed by these Members that this GAO report fell short of the mark when it comes to fairness and accuracy. Based on my more than three decades working in Washington, I know the great respect in which GAO is held. But I believe GAO should consider withdrawing this particular report, which cast aspersions on the entire sector and the over 250,000 employees who work hard every day to educate students, because the analysis is so flawed. The changes in the revised report were substantial—not mere ‘errata’--and, in several instances, were 180 degrees from the original conclusions because the initial interpretations of the ‘mystery shopping’ conversations were simply upside down. Furthermore, we are dismayed that news outlets, such as CNBC’s ‘Price of Admission’ program presented last evening, continue to rely on the original GAO report without mentioning the fact that the GAO report findings have been substantially revised.”
The letter from the Congressmen complements a letter sent by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY) which also questioned the GAO’s initial report and subsequent testimony before the Committee.
Posted by APSCU User at 12:14 AM
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Harris Miller, the President and CEO of APSCU, responded to this article in the New York Times attacking PSCUs for being an excellent postsecondary education option for members of the military and veterans:
Our schools offer a flexible and career-focused education, tailored for those who do not have the resources or time to spend several years on a college campus as a full-time student. Many have programs especially designed to support veterans who sometimes bring special opportunities and challenges with them.
We must ensure that every American who wants a college degree — especially those who are serving or who have served in the military — can obtain one.
Only by allowing private-sector colleges and universities to continue to be a meaningful choice for those serving our country can we have a chance to reach this necessary goal.We encourage you to read the entire letter.
Posted by APSCU User at 12:12 PM
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Harris Miller, President and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU), released the following statement about CNBC’s report “Price of Admission: America’s College Debt Crisis,” which airs tonight:
“Student debt is an important issue that deserves our attention as a nation. The bigger question, however, relates to America’s position in the global economy and, as President Obama has described the challenge, the need to reclaim world leadership in the percentage of adults with a college credential. How do we pay for expanded access and better outcomes? In the past, taxpayers have subsidized higher education through providing money directly to institutions-- budget appropriations, tax exemptions, research grants--and through students by the use of guaranteed loans and grants. Private sector colleges and universities only get this subsidy indirectly through the students who choose to attend their institutions, while non-profit schools get both direct and indirect taxpayer support. As economic pressures mount, the public subsidy has been reduced, forcing students to pick up a greater share of the cost. While this shifting of funding responsibility from public to private hands is often a challenge, particularly for those students with limited resources, the need to gain postsecondary education grows stronger, not weaker. While we focus on solutions to help students better manage debt, let’s not miss the big picture—the undisputed and significant return on investment to students, families, communities and our economy of higher education.”
Private sector colleges and universities help more than three million Americans every year improve their education and acquire specific career skills. These students select private sector colleges and universities because they get the type of education they need to compete in a tough global economy.
Miller also offered a response to charges made by some PSCU critics:
Here are the facts:
Myth: Enrollment in private sector colleges and universities (PSCUs) is a cause for concern.
Fact: Rather, unemployment in America is a cause for concern. There are 15.1 million unemployed workers—almost 10% of the workforce, a number that has remained stubbornly high. Americans realize the urgent need to acquire skills, get jobs and jumpstart the economy.
Myth: Student lending is comparable to the subprime mortgage crisis.
Fact: An overheated housing market, fueled by irresponsible behavior on the part of borrowers and lenders, led to the mortgage lending crisis. In contrast, no one questions the need for more college-educated workers to grow jobs and the economy. The value of a college education increases over time, unlike the speculative bubble of subprime mortgage lending.
Myth: Private sector colleges and universities have a 44% default rate, while educating 10% of students and receiving 23% of federal loans and grants. Something’s wrong.
Fact: PSCU students receive 23% of federal aid, while educating 25% of all students eligible for needs-based federal grants. PSCUs simply educate a higher percentage of needs-based students than do other sectors. A majority of PSCU students fall within 200% of the poverty line. It is not surprising that those with the fewest resources have the most difficult time meeting their financial obligations, especially in a difficult economy.
Myth: PSCUs do not provide quality education.
Fact: Private-sector colleges and universities are accredited institutions of higher learning. Education quality is assured through internal assessments and external audits. Nationally accredited PSCUs place 70% of their graduates, which is a testament to the quality education received.
“CNBC is right to study debt, but we need an approach that also focuses on 1) postsecondary access, and 2) the overall benefit to the students, the taxpayers, and the economy of enabling students to take on reasonable amounts of debt. If we want to see more Americans gain access to higher education and the opportunities it provides, we must ensure that private sector colleges and universities continue to play a critical role in educating America’s workforce, and that our schools have a level playing field with traditional colleges and universities,” Miller said.
Posted by APSCU User at 8:30 PM
Monday, December 20, 2010
The former Congressman from Georgia pushes back against those pushing against PSCUs in today's AJC:
Thus it is with the escalating war of words and dollars between traditional (that is, status quo) universities and colleges and the “new kids on the block” — proprietary or for-profit colleges. Considering the vehemence with which the federal government and others are bashing proprietary schools, one might think these institutions were serving up curricula advocating degrees in terrorism, pedophilia and marijuana cultivation.
The reality is that proprietary schools are simply fulfilling a market need by providing many of the same degree programs offered by their more traditional public and non-profit counterparts; but in locations and at times that more conveniently meet the needs of “non-traditional” students. The schools are successfully competing in the market place of academia; and they are upsetting the status quo. For this, they are reaping a whirlwind of regulations and calumny that threatens their very existence.
Two baseball bats with which legislators in Congress and bureaucrats in the administration beat up proprietary colleges, are an undercover investigation conducted earlier this year by the congressional Government Accountability Office; and a 2009 study, also by the GAO, purporting to show that proprietary schools graduate too-few students and saddle them with too-high debt.
The undercover study, in its initial version issued in August, was rife with titillating anecdotes of students being lured into signing up for programs at proprietary colleges by admissions personnel fibbing about costs, job prospects, and graduation rates. The GAO was forced to significantly soften much of the more inflammatory language in the report, and issue a revised version in November. The implied admissions of inaccuracy have caused the credibility of the entire report to be questioned.
Posted by APSCU User at 6:04 PM
The APSCU President and CEO makes the case that PSCUs are necessary for the U.S. to lead the world in higher education again:
For the United States to lead the world again in higher education, our country must marshal resources from all our educational institutions, especially those that can expand capacity quickly with targeted programs. Traditional four-year programs, community colleges and, yes, private-sector colleges are all part of the answer. Washington needs to understand what folks here already know: Private-sector colleges and universities are not competitors; we are teammates striving toward a common goal.
Private-sector colleges and universities extend opportunity to "non-traditional" students. Many such students are called high-risk because they did not and do not have the background and educational advantages of those who attend our more selective institutions. But the highest risk is denying them higher-education choice altogether.
The Education Trust recently released a report castigating private-sector colleges and universities - which many call for-profit colleges - for low graduation rates. This is a bit like an apple damning an orange for not being an apple. Our two-year schools have much higher completion rates than community colleges. And when one compares graduation rates of schools with the same demographics - as opposed to comparing schools with selective admissions to those primarily serving lower-income and working-adult students - for-profit colleges also do better.
In the midst of a jobless economic recovery, now is not the time for Washington to choose winners and losers in higher education.
Posted by APSCU User at 5:10 PM
Friday, December 17, 2010
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) congratulates Chairman Akaka (D-HI), Ranking Member Burr (R-NC) and Members of the Senate and House Veterans’ Affairs Committees on House passage of S. 3447, Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010. The measure passed the Senate by unanimous consent earlier this week and now heads to the President. The legislation expands critical assistance for veterans pursuing higher education.
Among its many provisions, the legislation allows students to attend certificate and diploma programs, provides a housing allowance for students participating in distance learning programs, and includes certain National Guard service as service qualifying for educational assistance under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
According to APSCU President Harris Miller, “We are gratified that House and Senate leadership supported final action on this legislation that better reflects the ways in which student veterans seek higher education today. Having served their country, these are students who are ready to get on with life. Often this means gaining a higher education in a manner that is flexible, efficient, and tied to better employment prospects after completion. We urge the President to sign this legislation into law as soon as it reaches his desk.”
APSCU has worked closely with the leading veterans’ and active duty military organizations that supported this bill. “It has been an honor to work with these outstanding groups who are articulate advocates for their members who are serving or who have served our country,” Miller concluded. “They believe their members should have choices about which educational path is best for them, and we are pleased that so many choose to attend APSCU member institutions.”
Career colleges have a higher percentage of those with military service (6.1 percent) than any other branch of postsecondary education. Looking across all types of higher education institutions, PSCUs educate 12.4 percent of undergraduate service member and veteran students.
Posted by APSCU User at 2:16 PM
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
From The Hill:
I agreed with this line of reasoning early on and initially supported the rule. However, after visiting several career college campuses and hearing stories of young people who believed these colleges afforded them their only chance to improve their knowledge and skills and get a better job, I decided we needed to take another look at the gainful employment rule. Many of these students are at a greater risk financially, and it should not be surprising that default rates are higher.
While I continue to support the department in its efforts to rein in bad actors in the for-profit college industry, as I have indicated to Education Secretary Arne Duncan during the public comment period for the proposed rule, I believe the rule might dramatically limit programs available to minority and other at-risk students based on goals that are inconsistent with loan-default standards set forth in the Title IV statute. Furthermore, I have also indicated that more data are needed before the department implements broad-sweeping regulations that could potentially have a devastating impact on these schools.
Career colleges will be a critical component in reaching President Obama’s goal of the United States having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. The U.S. was number one in 2000 but in the last decade slipped to sixth place. If we are to be on top again, career colleges will play a vital role in this effort.
Posted by APSCU User at 3:21 PM
Thursday, December 9, 2010
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) today criticized a Senate Committee Chairman’s report on the growth of service members and veterans attending private sector colleges and universities. APSCU said the report is looking at the issue from the wrong end of the telescope.
According to APSCU President Harris Miller, “The rapid growth of servicemembers, veterans and their families in higher education is a very positive development that should be celebrated, not denigrated. We are disappointed that others apparently think otherwise. We have no argument that every military and veteran student seeking a quality higher education deserves just that. Any problems in the delivery of that education deserve to be addressed thoroughly and completely. However, the ability of PSCUs to grow to add the capacity demanded by veterans and servicemembers is a testament to our sector’s dedication to educating those who have chosen service to our country. When it was time for institutions to sign up for the ‘Yellow Ribbon’ program, for instance, our schools were and are the leaders in higher education.”
Miller continued, “Congress has given those who serve their country a valuable educational benefit. These students have the opportunity to select the form of education that best suits their needs and interests, and they are fully capable of doing so, just as they were capable of choosing to join our voluntary military. Attending private sector colleges and universities provides these students with the flexible, concentrated and immersive education that prepares them to be competitive in the workplace.”
Miller-Motte College graduate and U.S. Army veteran Angela Avellino of Cary, NC, agrees: “When my Army career came to an end, I entered the civilian workforce. As I decided to pursue a career that would provide greater personal satisfaction, I started looking for more education, first at community college and then at a career college. I am thoroughly pleased with the education I received and have no doubt that my degree in massage therapy put me on the track to a fulfilling career in spa management.”
Marine Corps veteran Will Sampson also credits a private sector college education for contributing to his success: “While I was on active duty, ECPI College of Technology provided me with the opportunity for higher education. This education allowed me to be more competitive when I entered the job market after completing my active duty commitment. I am currently employed by East Carolina Bank as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer. Without the choice of a school with flexible hours I would have missed out on a great education and on the opportunities which led to my current career.”
Just 4.2 percent of higher education students today have any military experience whatsoever. Career colleges have a higher percentage of those with military service (6.1 percent) than any other branch of postsecondary education. Looking across all types of higher education institutions, PSCUs educate 12.4 percent of undergraduate servicemember and veteran students and 12 percent of all students in higher education.
Posted by APSCU User at 3:24 PM
Posted by APSCU User at 10:07 AM
APSCU released the following statement on the significant number of corrections made to the Government Accountability Office report on private sector college and university recruitment and financial aid practices:
“While it is good that GAO has corrected its report in several instances, the original report did disproportionate damage to the sector. We are fearful that if the negligent practices that led to the need for so many changes are repeated in future reports, the consequences could be as great or greater. Therefore, we ask the GAO to live up to its name and act with accountability. Putting research in a broad context would be a good first step. Further steps in the right direction would be stating the number of schools visited in its original report (as opposed to those reported on), releasing the videotapes collected by mystery shoppers to the schools involved, and discontinuing the use of disingenuous prompts in mystery shopping activity. We need to understand how and where this process went off the rails and take steps to assure that it never happens again. We also understand that there are findings that stand as reported in August and have been working diligently to address them. At the same time, this new information is highly material in the debate over the value provided by private sector higher education. We express our dismay over a process that was flawed, a story that was essentially incorrect, and the harm the original report delivered to the sector and the 3.2 million students who attend private sector colleges and universities.”
Posted by APSCU User at 8:38 AM
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
For more information about APSCU's military events, follow APSCU on Twitter. For all of the videos from this event, go here.
Posted by APSCU User at 6:00 PM
APSCU has been steadily responding to the report by Education Trust on for-profit colleges. Here's our official statement. Here's an example of someone else finding holes in their work. We'd also be remiss if we didn't include a response from APSCU President and CEO Harris Miller. In the form a letter to the editor in the New York Times, Miller sets the record straight:
The Education Trust report you cite unfairly criticizes the career education sector and devalues the education and commitment of its 3.2 million students. Comparing private-sector colleges and universities to other types of institutions does not consider the larger percentages of high-risk students we serve.
When the graduation rates of lower-income students and those with other “risk factors” are compared across not-for-profit and for-profit institutions with similar demographic profiles, the results favor career colleges, not traditional schools.
At least the Education Trust concedes that graduation rates at two-year career colleges are much higher than those of community colleges.
Finally, using graduation rates only of first-time, full-time students, as the Department of Education and Education Trust do, for analytical judgments and policy recommendations makes no sense given that a large percentage of today’s postsecondary students do not fit that description.
Posted by APSCU User at 5:51 PM
Harris N. Miller, president of Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU), and Gena Wikstrom, executive director of Northwest Career Colleges Federation, Redmond wrote a letter to the editor at the Seattle Times based on an inaccurate and misleading article about PSCUs. Authored by Lynne K. Varner, the article tries to make unfair comparisons and as a consequence, hides the real value of proprietary schools. Miller and Wikstrom take Varner to task for her bad analysis. To wit:
Student achievement is the clearest indicator of our ability to succeed as institutions of learning. If our students are not using the skills they learn with us to lead better lives, find work after graduation and pay off their student loans, we would cease to attract students, and we would not survive.
Do a few bad actors exist? Sure. Just as they do in every sector of education. But the Education Trust report you cite compares apples and oranges; e.g., highly selective institutions populated primarily by upper-income students versus schools that attract primarily nontraditional students — first in their family to attend college, lower-income, working adults, many with children.
Posted by APSCU User at 2:24 PM
Thursday, December 2, 2010
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) released an interview with Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), discussing the challenges America faces in properly integrating veterans and military service members in higher education.
“There’s a real divide between the military community and the rest of the population. They don’t understand length of service, they don’t understand the extent of the sacrifice, they don’t understand terminology. It’s a very, very basic divide. There are challenges that face us across the board. It comes down to the fact that most folks don’t know a vet. If we can bridge that gap and help educate them about who we are and what we can do it’s a win-win for every body. We always say it’s not just charity but investment. It’s an investment in young folks coming home and it’s an investment in the future of our country,” Reickhoff told APSCU.
According to the 2007-08 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, during the 2007-09 academic year, approximately 660,000 undergraduates were veterans, roughly three percent of all undergraduates. Of the top 15 postsecondary institutions who serve post-9/11 G.I. Bill students, seven are private sector colleges and universities.
Rieckhoff discussed whether higher education institutions have adequate support services to meet veterans’ needs and whether there is a cultural divide between the military and higher education communities. Rieckhoff also offered his blueprint for how higher education can be adapted to better meet the needs of veterans looking to gain the education, skills and training required to be competitive in a 21st century economy.
When asked about private sector colleges and universities (PSCUs), Rieckohff noted the large number of veterans – nineteen percent of those receiving GI Bill benefits - who chose to attend those schools is evidence of their value. “Ultimately, good value is determined by the veterans. If the veterans are using it they’re seeing good value. They’re discriminating customers. I think just like the rest of millennial generation they’re going to go where they think they get good value. To some extent the market is going to drive it, if they see value there,” said Rieckhoff.
The interview can be found on APSCU’s website.
Posted by APSCU User at 5:24 PM
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
For-Profit Colleges and Military Education Roundtable Part 2: Keynote Address From Vice Admiral David L. Brewer III
For more information about APSCU's military events, follow APSCU on Twitter. For all of the videos from this event, go here.
Posted by APSCU User at 12:43 PM
For more information about APSCU's military events, follow APSCU on Twitter. For all of the videos from this event, go here.
Posted by APSCU User at 11:55 AM