Sun- Sentinel: Career colleges play key role in state education

Sun -Sentinel
By Kathy Mizereck and Brian Moran

We agree with your recent editorial that student loan defaults are a serious matter. But students default for many reasons. Those attending private-sector colleges and universities often start farther back in life's pack economically. Now, they must cope as harsh economic conditions constrain jobs and upward mobility.
We urge a variety of steps to bring down default rates, including student education about loans, borrowing obligations and effective budgeting; limiting lending amounts to costs related to tuition, books and fees; and full disclosure on the costs and potential rewards of pursuing a given career field.
While effective regulatory oversight is part of that solution, playing the blame game with the Commission for Independent Education is not. The commission has no authority regarding student loans, but does have a long-standing record of effective oversight. In the past three months alone, the commission has:
Conducted 131 visits to institutions to gauge compliance
Issued four notices of non-compliance to institutions that appeared to be operating illegally
Referred one institution to the Office of the Attorney General for unlicensed activity
Responded to 92 percent of student complaints within seven calendar days of receipt, with an average of 24 days to case closure
We are confident the economy will improve and default rates will decrease. Both federal laws as well as U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agencies will continue to serve as a check on abuses. And common sense steps that institutions can take can go a long way to improving the situation now and in the future.

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Kathy Mizereck is executive director of the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges, and Brian Moran is interim president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.

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