Toledo Legal News: Schools hit back after revised report

Toledo Legal News

December 16, 2010
By Scott Woods

The association representing Ohio's career colleges and schools blasted the Government Accountability Office for errors in a report that hastened a drive for increased regulation of for-profit colleges around the country. The federal GAO last week revised a report on recruiting practices at 15 for-profit colleges. The report was originally released Aug. 4.

"Ohio's career colleges and schools are pleased that the GAO has corrected the multitude of errors in its report on our sector, but it is too late to reverse the damage it has done to our schools and students," said R. David Rankin, executive director of the Ohio Association of Career Colleges and Schools.

"Because the report fueled skepticism among public officials in Ohio and Washington about the value of career college education, the errors are highly significant to us," he said.

The GAO report used undercover "secret shoppers" to visit 15 college campuses and record conversations with admissions officers. Several of the corrections retract the recruitment techniques reported - such as fraud and high-pressure sales tactics - that have come under scrutiny in the U.S. Senate and sparked legislation in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Following the August report, President Barack Obama proposed rules that would limit eligibility for financial aid and crack down on enrollment practices at for-profit colleges, which received $26.5 billion in U.S. loans and grants in 2009. The August GAO investigation detailed practices at popular for-profit schools such as the University of Phoenix, Kaplan College, Everest College and Argosy University.

The revised report, however, does not change the GAO's conclusions, and Rankin said career colleges and schools should be held accountable for meeting the highest standards in recruiting and educating students.

"Unfortunately, this inaccurate report has created a sense of urgency to tighten regulations that may result in a loss of federal loans to thousands of Ohio career

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