The News Tribune: COLLEGES: The rest of the higher ed story

Letters to the Editor
Letter by Steve Gunderson, Washington, D.C.
Read more here:

July 30, 2013

Your editorial on postsecondary education (TNT, 7-29) uses hyperbole and uninformed generalizations to put down a specific group of students and institutions while failing to offer solutions or constructive concepts.

The bipartisan bill, the Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act, was introduced by Reps. John Kline, Virginia Foxx and Alcee Hastings. It has received significant support from many institutions across all of postsecondary education, including  the American Council on Education and the Association of American Universities.

Our institutions are as much defined by our students as anything else; your editorial makes passing mention of this fact. We serve the new traditional student, these students are often over 25, have no financial support from parents, work full time or part time and/or are single parents. As a result, 86 percent of our students receive some type of need-based student aid.

When it comes to outcomes, our institutions outperform our peers with a 62 percent graduation rate at two-year institutions compared to 20 percent at public institutions and 51 percent at private nonprofits.

Our institutions provide an important contribution to the economic engine in Washington. While we enroll only 5 percent of the students in the state, our graduates represent nearly a third of all allied health graduates and communications technology graduates. We also employ more than 2,400 dedicated faculty and staff in the state.

Instead of looking down on one type of institution, let’s find a way to work together to close the skills gap that remains between postsecondary education and careers.

(Gunderson is president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.)
Read more here:

Accuracy in Academia: The Education Bubble & Poverty

Accuracy in Academia
By: Spencer Irvine
July 15, 2013

A major problem with the student loan bubble is that federal financial aid goes to some students that are not in dire need, according to Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the for-profit college Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities.

Gunderson endorses “federal financial aid to the truly needy.” The former Wisconsin congressman was the one identifiable Republican on the panel at a D.C. Newseum policy summit sponsored by the National Journal and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

He said that today’s “barriers to professionalism” are hurting college graduates. The current “command and control system” is being pushed back and there are more calls for transparency and “not just regulation from top down” in education.

Unlike his peers in the education establishment, Gunderson does not “think there is a one-size-fits-all” education approach and said “we know they [students] do better with a minimum blended delivery system,” where both the Internet model and campus model are used together to teach college students.

Another panelist, Kevin Carey, who works for the New America Foundation as one of the directors of its Education Policy Program, put forward the argument, contrary to the leanings of most of the panel members, that the “most important reason to go to college is to get a job,” because “they want access to parts of the labor market” that are not accessible with just a high school diploma. Because “the control of credentials” (i.e. a college degree) is a “monopoly” run by the colleges, a college education tends to be ineffective, inefficient and expensive. “People pay because they have no choice,” concluded Carey.

To resolve this, Carey proposed that we “open up the higher education market” while having a “greater hold on quality,” not solely quantity of education and availability. This will allow colleges to “provide the kind of education that students need.” Even with student loans, there have not been significant changes in equality of education and no changes in race distribution in education.

But, he wants the student loan bubble and Pell grant program, which is a “$40 billion program,” to continue as “we’ll keep lending money until they can pay for college.” Until college tuition is lowered and the students themselves can pay it, student loans will not go away.

Yet another panelist, David Bergeron, Vice President of Postsecondary Education at the Center for American Progress, pushed for a British education model that is based on competency, or job skills and training. Instead of faculty being lecturers, “faculty become coaches and aides” in the learning process and help increase affordability. A point that all agreed on was how adults, when they return to school, should be able to apply their job skills to schooling. The problem with the American system is that there is “a lot of ambiguity about credentials and what they mean.”

Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail

Navy Times: SVA working to better track vets' success rates in school

Navy Times
By George Altman, Staff writer
July 12, 2013

A new effort to better track how student veterans fare in college — which holds the promise of identifying the practices and schools that best get vets to graduation day — is underway and should start producing information before 2014, the head of Student Veterans of America told lawmakers recently.

The lack of data on vets’ success rates in school has led to confusion and hampered efforts to improve higher education’s approach to veterans, SVA Executive Director Michael Dakduk said.

The new project, a joint effort involving SVA, the Veterans Affairs Department and the National Student Clearinghouse, is a “vital first step” in addressing the problem, Dakduk said.

“In addition, it will provide a foundation for future research, such as student veterans’ persistence [in school] and identifying critical times where student veterans are more likely to withdraw from college,” he told the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s economic opportunity panel June 20.

The Education Department keeps a wealth of data on schools across the U.S. and their students, but that information is focused on full-time students going to college for the first time. Vets rarely fit that description, as they typically start their higher education by taking classes part time while on active duty and are more likely to have family or work responsibilities that prevent them from going to school full time when they leave the military.

Schools also have done a poor job of keeping track of how their own veteran students do. In a Military Times survey last year, less than 10 percent of responding institutions indicated that they track course completion or degree completion rates for vets or military students.

The new project is intended to help fill the gap.

“SVA expects an initial report on the completion rate of approximately 1 million veterans that have used various forms of the GI Bill between 2002 and 2010. We expect to see some results at the end of this year,” Dakduk said.

Other efforts to collect, combine or distribute information to help student veterans are also underway.

A new collaboration by the Veterans Affairs, Education, Defense and Justice departments will centralize complaints about schools that serve their students poorly.

VA has posted a link to the Education Department’s College Navigator, which can be found at and provides details about schools, on the VA eBenefits page.

VA is even working on a tool to help current and former troops figure out if they’re ready for school and which careers might suit them, according to written testimony from Robert Worley, director of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Education Service.

The converging efforts to ensure vets are well-informed before they cash in their education benefits come in the wake of scathing criticism of some for-profit schools by members of Congress and the federal government.

During the June 20 hearing, Steve Gunderson, a former Republican representative from Wisconsin who now leads a for-profit education trade group, defended the industry before a comparatively sympathetic panel of lawmakers and witnesses.

Dakduk praised a report released by Gunderson’s group early this year outlining best practices for schools to follow when educating vets.

But Gunderson acknowledged a fact that remains a sticking point for many critics of for-profits: Because they typically are accredited differently than traditional schools, their credits are often not transferable to other institutions.

“Unfortunately, that is correct, and we would like to solve that,” Gunderson said.

Direct link to article:

Inside Higher Ed: New Bill Seeks to Repeal 'Gainful Employment' Rule

Inside Higher Ed
July 11, 2013

WASHINGTON -- The leading Republicans on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and its higher education subcommittee introduced a bill Wednesday to repeal four controversial Education Department regulations -- including two that aren't currently being enforced. The bill, the Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act, would repeal the gainful employment and state authorization regulations, both of which the Education Department is not enforcing after court action and plans to rewrite in an upcoming round of rule-making. The bill would also block that attempt to rewrite the regulations, forbidding rule making in these areas until after the Higher Education Act is reauthorized.

Read more:

PRWeb: Imagine America Foundation to Sponsor Future Postsecondary Education Leaders

The Imagine America Foundation sponsors the 2013 Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities Leadership Institute.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) July 10, 2013

The Imagine America Foundation (IAF) is thrilled to sponsor the 2013 Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) Leadership Institute. With new market demands and new technologies, our leaders must not only adapt to change but also manage others through it, if they are to survive today’s demanding environment. For over 25 years, the APSCU Leadership Institute has provided experienced postsecondary education professionals with the training they need to become future leaders.

The Leadership Institute is a six-day program designed to prepare leaders for new challenges and responsibilities. Through realistic scenarios, group interaction, roundtable discussions and teambuilding exercises participants explore their future leadership role as a strategist, analyst, change agent, manager, communicator, coach and team member. Focus is placed on a leader’s impact within the postsecondary education community.

“Having effective leadership encourages faculty retention which IAF believes leads to student educational success,” said Robert L. Martin, President/CEO of IAF. “We are excited to sponsor APSCU’s Leadership Institute and support future career education leaders.”

The Leadership Institute is July 11 to July 16 at the American Airlines Training & Conference Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Institute is designed to provide leadership training for newly-hired managers in the postsecondary education sector, future organizational leaders and experienced campus personnel who need to strengthen and enhance their knowledge and skills. Past attendees range from Campus Directors/Presidents to Deans.

For more information about Imagine America Foundation visit or contact Robert L. Martin, President/CEO of the Imagine America Foundation at 571-267-3012 or bobm(at)imagine-america(dot)org.

About the Imagine America Foundation
The Imagine America Foundation (IAF), established in 1982, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing scholarships for education, research and training support for the career college sector. Since its inception, the Foundation has provided more than $75 million in scholarship and award support for graduating high school seniors, adult learners and U.S. military personnel attending career colleges nationwide through its award-winning Imagine America programs. The Foundation also publishes vital research publications for the higher education sector, honors achievement in career education and offers comprehensive employee development programs through its Center for Excellence in Education. For more information about the Imagine America Foundation's programs, please visit

USA Today: College default rates higher than grad rates

July 02, 2013

Mary Beth Marklein, Jodi Upton and Sandhya Kambhampati, USA TODAY 

More than 260 colleges and universities in 40 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have students who are more likely to default on their loans than full-time freshmen are to graduate, an analysis of federal data shows.

Hundreds of thousands of students are enrolled at the 265 schools, nearly half of which are operated by for-profit colleges, a USA TODAY analysis shows. About one-third of the schools they attended were are public community colleges.

"These colleges should set off a red flag in the minds of prospective student borrowers — and their parents," says Andrew Gillen, research director for Education Sector, a non-profit, non-partisan think-tank on education policy that gathered the federal data. "Many students at these colleges will no doubt take out loans, graduate and get good jobs. But the high default rates and lower graduation rates suggest that many will not."

The analysis comes amid controversy as Congress decides whether to intervene to stop interest rates on new federally subsidized student loans from doubling. The lower interest rates expired Monday.

The Education Sector analysis, a snapshot of Education Department data, looks at U.S. colleges where at least 100 borrowers started repaying loans in 2009 and the equivalent of at least 250 full-time students were enrolled in the 2009-10 academic year, the latest year for which complete data are available. In a new report, "In Debt and In the Dark," the Education Sector identified 514 of what it calls "red flag colleges," schools where the percentage of borrowers who started repaying loans in 2009 and had defaulted by 2012 was higher than the schools' graduation rates. USA TODAY focused on 265 "red flag colleges" out of 2,711 schools where at least 30% of students borrow.

Leaders of community and for-profit colleges long have argued that graduation and default rates have more to do with the challenges faced by their students, who are among the neediest and most likely to struggle academically, than with the quality of their institutions. Also, each number counts different populations and applies only to subsets of students — those who borrow and those who began at the college as first-time, full-time students. Nevertheless, the two data sets are the federal government's "best estimate" for identifying, and holding accountable, schools that are eligible to receive federal student aid, Gillen says.

A Senate investigation last summer found that students at for-profit colleges on average had lower graduation rates and higher default rates than those enrolled in non-profit institutions. USA TODAY's analysis found 117 for-profit institutions where default rates were higher than graduation rates, with most offering four-year degrees or higher. ITT Educational Services, which has 145 technical institutes nationwide, operated 45 of them.

The analysis found 88 community colleges where default rates were higher than graduation rates, though fewer of those students borrow and their loans are smaller on average.

At New River Community and Technical College in Beckley, W.Va., administrators attribute the 5% graduation rate and 25.7% default rate to several factors, including high unemployment and the residual effect of a period of years when loan amounts were inflated because an incorrect formula for awarding aid was used. That attracted a number of students who had "no intention of completing their education," says Barbara Elliott, director of public relations. Even for those who did earn a degree, "the payments were so high that they may have had trouble making them."

Kevin Modany, CEO of ITT Educational Services, which posted a 34.1% default rate across all of its campuses, says the 2009 data capture a tumultuous period during which the nation was in recession and a new federal law had gone into effect that changed how some student loans were serviced.

Of ITT campuses with graduation rates below 34.1%, he says, "our analyses have always led us to conclude that the primary determinant of whether a student will graduate from an associate degree program of study is the student's socioeconomic status. The higher the student's socioeconomic status, the greater the likelihood that the student will graduate."

The Education Sector report argues that default data would be more useful if it provided information about defaulters, such as whether they also received federal aid for low-income students and which fields they were studying. That would help students determine the likelihood they would default if they borrowed, Gillen says.

A report released in May by the non-profit Century Foundation urges greater federal support for public community colleges — with funding tied to student outcomes such as degrees earned, job placement rates and successful transfers to four-year colleges. Steve Gunderson, president of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, says federal data should reflect their students, many of whom attend part-time and have returned to school after taking a semester or more off.

Last week, the Education Department updated its College Affordability and Transparency Center website established in 2011 to highlight institutions where costs are rising fastest. Tim Ranzetta, a financial aid analyst in Palo Alto, Calif., says transparency is not enough. His proposal? Require flagged schools to post a disclosure: "Warning: This education can be hazardous to your health."

Direct link to article: