APSCU letter to H and S chairmen re: Chairman's Military Education Report

The Honorable George Miller
Chairman
House Committee on Education and Labor
2181 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable John Kline
Ranking Member
House Committee on Education and Labor
2181 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Miller and Ranking Member Kline:

We are writing to express our strong disappointment with the report released on December 8 by Chairman Harkin of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee on private sector colleges and universities (PSCUs) serving military students. Increasing accessibility to higher education for servicemembers, veterans and their families is a very positive development that should be celebrated, not denigrated. As you know, the GAO recently amended its August 2010 undercover investigation of PSCUs’ recruitment and admissions practices in order to correct numerous errors about negative allegations in that report, but the damage has been done. We object to Chairman Harkin’s report on military education as making similarly damaging and inflammatory findings about PSCUs that we believe are not supported by a fair review of the facts.

The report makes no mention of the long-established relationships and regulatory protections in place between PSCUs and the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense with regard to receipt and use of this education funding. Nor does it mention that PSCUs have been among the earliest and most active participants in the Yellow Ribbon Fund program and within the Service Opportunity College that works with the Department of Defense, Active and Reserve components of military services, and 15 higher education associations.

The need for employment skills, particularly in a tough economy and with reduced capacity at traditional schools, has created the influx of military students into PSCUs, not “manipulating and misleading marketing campaigns” as the report states. Military and veteran students make informed choices every day. They have the maturity to defend their country and they have the maturity to make intelligent choices about selecting the higher education that is best for them.

Only 4.2 percent of higher education students today have any military experience whatsoever. PSCUs 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. What the report should be asking is why other colleges and universities have not stepped up to accommodate the needs of our military and veteran students.

Unlike other types of institutions, outcomes for nationally accredited PSCUs are documented. Military and veteran students are selecting PSCUs because they offer career focused education, delivered in a manner that is flexible, relevant, concentrated and suited to their needs and interests. Military and veteran students routinely cite the convenience and support services provided by PSCUs as a unique strength of our schools. This type of purposeful education gets them from the military to the classroom to the workplace more efficiently, saving them – and taxpayers – money in the long run.

Any problems in the delivery of quality education to the military deserve to be addressed thoroughly and fairly. But there are many, many success stories in private sector education of military students. For example, 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.”

We look forward to working with the Committee in the 112th Congress to address higher education issues affecting all postsecondary institutions in a manner that does not unfairly single out private sector institutions.
Sincerely,

Harris N. Miller
CEO/President
Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities
1101 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20036
harrism@apscu.org
+ 1 202 336 6754
Executive Assistant: Jackie McWilliams
jackiem@apscu.org
+1 202 336 6706
www.apscu.org

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