Orlando Sentinel: Focus on lending rules for students at all colleges

Orlando Sentinel
Letter to the Editor by Kathy Mizereck

An Orlando Sentinel editorial last month about the rising debt of college students who must borrow to obtain an education argues for more oversight of for-profit colleges.

Additional red tape does not represent a solution to an issue prevalent at all colleges — not just career colleges.

Part of the bigger picture includes the fact that the U.S. Department of Education gets back 95 cents of every dollar it loans, plus interest. The lender, based on student qualifications, determines the amount of loans.

Students at career colleges usually have little or no family contribution to their education and, thus, tend to borrow more, regardless of the cost of the program. We counsel students about debt, but have no control over ultimate spending.

In Florida, more than 370,000 students annually choose to attend career colleges or train for jobs – a population that would cost the state university system an estimated $1.6 billion to educate. Further, career colleges receive no direct taxpayer support, but pay $131 million in local, state and federal taxes.

Because we do not take a state subsidy, the average tuition at Florida career colleges is higher than that of public schools, but is still about half that at private, nonprofit institutions. Most of our students are hardworking adults who hold jobs and support families. Many of our students qualify for and borrow more.

We believe lending rules must be addressed for all institutions and implemented evenly across-the-board so all providers of higher education can focus on serving students.

Kathy Mizereck Executive director, Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges

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