The Miami Herald: Don't Target Only Career Colleges for Regulation

The Miami Herald
March 23, 2011

Don’t target only career colleges for regulation

The U.S. House of Representatives recent overwhelming rejection of the so-called gainful employment regulatory scheme is a testimony to lawmakers’ dissatisfaction with more regulations for our country’s career colleges.

The regulation, triggered by rising student defaults on federal loans and aimed at private institutions, begs the question why all education sectors — public, private, nonprofit and for-profit — weren’t being treated equally.

According to The Miami Herald’s March 11 editorial, Better bang for student bucks, student-loan defaults are of concern to private career-oriented schools only. The reality, however, is that they affect all schools — and at the same rate — when analyzed by student income levels. Research by Mark Kantrowitz, founder of, shows low-income students without family and personal financial resources have difficulty repaying loans regardless of where they attend school.

Most career-school students are hardworking adults who hold jobs and support a family. More than 75 percent are defined as independent or “self-supporting.” More than half have an annual family income of less than $20,000.

Average tuition at Florida’s 900 licensed career colleges is higher than that of public schools, but half that at private nonprofit schools. In turn, career colleges receive no direct taxpayer support, but pay $131 million in local, state and federal taxes.

It’s common sense that any business, or public education institution, will have unhappy consumers. It has been our experience at the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges — a statewide organization working on behalf of 370 degree-granting and 550 nondegree-granting career colleges — that most schools have systems in place to address issues such as those reported in the state attorney general investigation. The eight named colleges have worked hard to address complaints, which amount to less than 1 percent of students enrolled.

The job market in Miami-Dade County needs skilled workers trained for Florida’s fastest growing careers, such as information technology and healthcare. In the healthcare field alone, more than 60 percent of the state’s credentialed work force — nurses, technicians, medical assistants — are filled by career-college graduates.

It's time for structural changes to student-loan programs, but let's make sure that the rules are placed evenly across the board.

Kathy Mizereck, executive director, Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges, Tallahassee

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