APSCU Press Release: APSCU Best Practices Lead The Way For Postsecondary Education Career Services

For Immediate Release
August 28, 2013

Noah Black, noah.black@apscu.org

Washington, DC—As part of its mission to prepare postsecondary students for jobs, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) has released the “Best Practices In Career Services and Placement,” which delivers recommendations to all postsecondary education institutions on providing successful career services for students, employers and institutions. The recommendations address ways all institutions can support the transition to employment during the student’s entire postsecondary experience, including campus-wide engagement in career services, and effective management of a career services program.

To develop these best practices, APSCU established a Task Force on Career Services and Placement, which brought a breadth and depth of higher education and workforce experience to the discussion. The methods and techniques were cultivated from APSCU’s member institutions that currently offer students rich opportunities to prepare for their future career and personalized support for their career search process.

“We recognize the role of postsecondary career education in our nation’s quest to meet employer demands for skilled workers, and our students’ goal of obtaining a quality job. These recommendations will help our students reach their professional goals by making career services more visible, effective, and relevant,” said Steve Gunderson, the president and CEO of APSCU. “We encourage all postsecondary institutions to review these best practices and adopt recommendations that will benefit their students and employer partners.”

These best practices offer all institutions examples of those programs that best serve the growing new traditional student population. New traditional students often balance the needs of family, full-time or part-time work and postsecondary education.

The best practices include recommendations for ensuring student success, such as:

  • Develop career service programs that guide students throughout their entire academic career from prospective student to alumni.
  • Monitor employment at regular intervals and stay informed about workforce trends.
  • Build relationships with externship or clinical or practicum sites to generate job leads.
  • Ensure the accuracy of information delivered to the public.
  • Cultivate an appropriate professional relationship with each student that reflects and supports their academic journey. For prospective students, provide accurate information and a clear expectation of responsibilities to help ensure a good fit.
  • Develop a new-student orientation program that links professional outcomes with academic success to benefit students in the beginning of their tenure.
  • Implement a process of reviewing and collecting data—including student generated, instructor generated, and employer generated data.
  • Establish a process for verifying employment after graduation to improve the quality of placements.
  • Establish program advisory committees and build community and employer relations.
This is the second in a series of Best Practices recommendations for postsecondary education by APSCU. The first set was the Best Practices for Military and Veteran Students, released earlier this year. Future Best Practices are expected to cover topics that provide recommendations for Recruitment and Admissions, and Financial Literacy.


APSCU Press Release: APSCU Asks Education Secretary Duncan To Reconsider Gainful Employment Negotiated Rulemaking Committee

August 26, 2013

Washington, DC – APSCU President and CEO Steve Gunderson sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan asking him to either abandon the current gainful employment negotiated rulemaking process or expand the representation on the rulemaking committee to include a fair representation of private sector institutions.

In his letter, Gunderson wrote, "of the 28 representatives the Department selected, only four represent private sector colleges and universities. Several of the other representatives are on-the-record opposing the private sector or work for entities that are opposed to the existence of our institutions. As a result, the committee neither fairly nor adequately represents our students and institutions; rather, it is composed of vocal opponents of our sector. The Department's decision to establish a rulemaking committee that underrepresents private sector colleges and universities is all the more inexplicable and inappropriate given that any final regulations that emerge from this process will disproportionally affect our institutions and students."

"A committee with this make-up is likely to draft proposed regulations that stifle educational innovation, cost jobs, and displace the students who benefit most from career and job-focused training. These outcomes will undermine the President's goal of closing the skills gap by increasing the number of Americans with postsecondary credentials. We fear that in trying a second time to adopt gainful employment regulations, the Department has again chosen to overlook the positive contributions of our institutions to students who would otherwise be excluded from postsecondary education.

"The Department's failure to select a fairly representative committee is particularly astonishing in this case. Indeed, the composition of the rulemaking committee is so biased and one-sided as to call into question the Department's intent to fulfill its obligations under the Higher Education Act and the Administrative Procedure Act to engage in a fair process and to adopt well-reasoned regulations that are consistent with its statutory authority."

The full letter to the Secretary is available online.

Inside Higher Education: Obama on For-Profits

August 26, 2013

By: Paul Fain and Scott Jaschik

The Obama administration has had no shortage of spats (and some out-and-out warfare) with the for-profit sector of higher education. But typically administration officials outside the Oval Office have been the ones directly expressing views on the sector.

On Friday, however, in a question-and-answer session at the State University of New York at Binghamton, a doctoral student at (nonprofit) Syracuse University asked the president about the sector and for-profit colleges that the student called "predatory." The president responded with some language that didn't go over well with officials in for-profit higher education.

He agreed that some for-profit colleges are taking advantage of students (and in particular veterans), and said that he believed that these abuses were more prevalent in the for-profit than the nonprofit sector.

In his answer, Obama stressed that there was no reason to believe that for-profit status is inherently wrong. "For-profit institutions in a lot of sectors of our lives obviously [are] the cornerstone of our economy. And we want to encourage entrepreneurship and new ideas and new approaches and new ways of doing things. So I’m not against for-profit institutions, generally." (A full transcript of the event may be found here.)

But he said that the questioner was correct in noting problems in higher education. "[T]here have been some schools that are notorious for getting students in, getting a bunch of grant money, having those students take out a lot of loans, making big profits, but having really low graduation rates. Students aren’t getting what they need to be prepared for a particular field. They get out of these for-profit schools loaded down with enormous debt. They can’t find a job. They default. The taxpayer ends up holding the bag. Their credit is ruined, and the for-profit institution is making out like a bandit. That’s a problem."

Continuing, Obama noted a particular concern about students who are veterans or in the military, saying that "they’ve been preyed upon very badly by some of these for-profit institutions.... Because what happened was these for-profit schools saw this Post-9/11 GI Bill, that there was a whole bunch of money that the federal government was committed to making sure that our veterans got a good education, and they started advertising to these young people, signing them up, getting them to take a bunch of loans, but they weren’t delivering a good product."

Then President Obama made a pitch that the best way to deal with problems in the sector would be to adopt the ratings system he proposed last week for all of higher education, in which institutions with similar missions would be evaluated on the basis of affordability, completion rates and graduates' income -- and those attending better rated institutions would receive larger Pell Grants and more favorable terms of student loans.

"[I]f we can define some basic parameters of what’s a good value, then it will allow us more effectively to police schools whether they're for-profit or non-for-profit -- because there are some non-for-profit schools, traditional schools that have higher default rates among their graduates than graduation rates -- and be able to say to them, look, either you guys step up and improve, or you’re not going to benefit from federal dollars."

That line draw applause at Binghamton and is in many ways consistent with what for-profit higher ed leaders have been saying for some time -- that they are willing to be judged as long as the rest of higher education is similarly judged.

But in words that didn't go over with for-profit leaders, Obama also said that not all sectors are equal when it comes to the problems he was discussing. "So there are probably more problems in the for-profit sector on this than there are in the traditional non-for-profit colleges, universities and technical schools, but it’s a problem across the board," Obama said. "And the way to solve it is to make sure that we’ve got ways to measure what’s happening and we can weed out some of the folks that are engaging in bad practices."

Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, which lobbies on behalf of for-profit colleges, said via e-mail that it was inconsistent for President Obama to argue that all colleges should be evaluated under a similar system while the Education Department is proceeding with negotiations over "gainful employment" regulations that would apply only to vocational programs at for-profit colleges and some nonprofit institutions.
"There is an inherent conflict with what the president and the Department of Education are trying to do. On one hand they mention the importance of developing and implementing these long-term reforms for all postsecondary institutions, but then they continue to aggressively pursue negotiated rulemaking aimed at only a select number of institutions," Gunderson said. "We firmly believe that to do this process right, the department should suspend negotiated rulemaking and appropriately focus on the president's proposal. That is how we will create meaningful change that puts the interests and outcomes of students first."

Andrew Rosen, chairman and CEO of Kaplan, Inc., said he was encouraged by the president's plan for a rating system. But he called for it to be a fair playing field.

"All higher education institutions should be evaluated based on their performance relative to schools with similar student populations, so we can understand the true value they deliver," Rosen said in a written statement. "Doing so will encourage excellence in serving students of all demographics."

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/08/26/obama-speaks-directly-profit-higher-education-noting-concerns-sector#ixzz2d58e8Ieu
Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Education: Performance Funding Goes Federal

August 23, 2013

By: Paul Fain

Colleges need to demonstrate the value of their product with hard numbers, an increasingly popular maxim holds, or lawmakers will try to do it for them.

That prediction is now truer than ever, as the nation’s highest elected official has joined state policymakers in pushing performance-based funding for higher education. The sweeping, ambitious proposal President Obama unveiled Thursday seeks to tie all federal financial aid programs to a rating system of colleges on affordability, student completion rates and the earnings of graduates.

The U.S. Department of Education will hold public hearings to develop the ratings before fall 2015. Then the White House will go to Congress to pursue legislation that would link aid levels to colleges’ performance. For example, students who attend standout institutions could receive bigger Pell Grants and more affordable student loans.

President Obama said he wants the new strings attached to federal money by 2018.

“We are going to deliver on a promise we made last year, which is colleges that keep their tuition down and are providing high-quality education are the ones that are going to see their taxpayer funding go up,” Obama told students at the State University of New York at Buffalo. “It is time to stop subsidizing schools that are not producing good results, and reward schools that deliver for American students and our future.”

Pulling it off won’t be easy. The creation of metrics will be enormously complicated as well as controversial. A key Republican leader in Congress on Thursday said he worried that the ratings would be arbitrary and could lead to “federal price controls.”

Yet few could argue that Obama failed to live up to his promise of going big in trying to make college more affordable, which is a popular issue on both sides of the political aisle. And the administration can tackle much of the ratings system without needing to seek Congressional approval.

Many observers said the president’s plan -- which seeks to fold all sectors of higher education into the same sort of regulatory regime the White House has pushed with for-profit colleges and vocational programs at community colleges – will have a big rhetorical impact on the debate over accountability in higher education. It could also substantially increase the federal government’s presence in overseeing how colleges do business.

“I don’t have much confidence in the Department of Education doing a subtle job,” said Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, an organization of mostly small private colleges.

However, Ekman and other officials who work at One Dupont, which is the Washington headquarters of many higher education lobbyists, said they would work with the White House to try to craft fair, meaningful standards. “A lot of the goals are ones that we support,” said Ekman.

Private colleges so far have been lukewarm at best about publishing the data in the federal government's College Scorecard, which the administration recently created, let alone basing aid funding on accountability measures.

If college presidents came out swinging against Obama's plan, they were hard to find. But several said they support it. For example, Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the SUNY system, said SUNY shares the president's priorities. "The key to success for the president's plan will be working with states to ensure that the right data and metrics are used to measure outcomes," Zimpher said in a written statement.

Train is Rolling

White House officials stressed they would consult with colleges throughout the process, although the higher education lobby was apparently not involved in crafting the plan. And Obama spread the blame for increasing tuition rates beyond the academy during his speech, calling out states for defunding public colleges.

The president’s inclusion of hard deadlines in his plan has already “caused people to take it seriously,” said Bob Shireman, a former Education Department official who now leads California Competes, a nonprofit group with a focus on higher education.

Shireman, who battled for-profits by leading the administration’s push for gainful employment regulations, said the White House is clearly moving forward with its performance-based metrics crusade, whether college leaders like it or not. So he said the tendency to “hope they go away” won’t work this time.

Terry W. Hartle agreed. Hartle is senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, which is higher education’s umbrella trade group. He said the council hopes to assist the Education Department as it develops college ratings.

“We should assume that they are simply going to go forward and do it,” he said.

Shireman said the administration appears sincere about wanting higher education’s input. The debate over a ratings system could be an opportunity “to make it something useful,” he said.

The measures will be designed to break higher education into its many differing segments, the White House said. That means community colleges won’t be measured against Ivy League institutions. “These ratings will compare colleges with similar missions,” according to a fact sheet the administration released, and “identify colleges that do the most to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as colleges that are improving their performance.”

The council called the president’s plan both thoughtful and multifaceted.

“The administration has certainly published an impressive menu of ways to reshape higher education,” said Hartle. “The hard work starts now.”

However, the council will not help the administration in its effort to tie a rating system to federal aid -- a move that would require Congressional legislation. The group said in a written statement that it would oppose that piece of the plan, which “could have a profoundly negative impact on the very students and families the administration is trying to help.”

All Ears at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The White House managed to keep the plan largely under wraps before its release. And several higher education officials said they were surprised by the comprehensiveness of the proposals, which also included a push for emerging delivery forms of higher education, such as competency-based programs. (See related article here.)

Administration officials said the plan was still a work in progress on the night before Obama’s speech, sources said. And the fact that the complex proposals might not be fully baked could be a good thing, at least for college leaders. That’s because they may have a chance to influence the plan as it takes shape.

This White House tends to hold more closed-door meetings on higher education than previous administrations, some observers said. This time around, however, administration officials sounded sincere about allowing representatives from all sectors to get their say.

James Kvaal, deputy director of Obama's domestic policy council, said in a call with reporters that the department would be speaking to “anyone with a good idea about how to develop these ratings.”

One lingering question, observers said, was who at the department would lead the discussion. The agency is shorthanded after the departure of several top officials. And Duncan tends to focus on K-12 issues.

For-profit college leaders, who often complain about being left out regulatory discussions, said they were eager to participate in the process. And some said they were optimistic that the online, flexible degree programs that many for-profits offer could help them, given the administration’s interest in potentially “disruptive” technology.

The industry generally supports devising measures of student outcomes, said Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, for-profits’ primary trade group. And he applauded the president’s call to create ratings that take into account the different student populations that colleges serve.

“I don’t think any sector gets hurt by this,” he said.

Even more importantly, for-profits are glad that the proposed system will apply to all of higher education, which was a plea they made throughout the bruising battle in the president's last term over "gainful employment."

“This is where we wanted to go for a long time,” said Gunderson.

Devil in the Details

Institutionwide rating systems are controversial, in part because of the varying roles a single college can play. For example, a graduate program in nursing at a university is a far different animal than the undergraduate track for English majors.

As a result, it will be hard for the administration to create meaningful metrics, said John Thelin, a professor of education at the University of Kentucky, who recently wrote a book about college costs. “What is the standard student experience at Ohio State?” said Thelin, who compared that question to “asking what it’s like to live in New York.”

Gainful employment regulations looked at academic program-level data rather than the performance of institutions. (The regulations are currently stalled. The Education Department will take them up again next month.)

Earnings data at the institutionwide level are seriously flawed, said Anthony P. Carnevale, the director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. They tend to favor more elite institutions, which send fewer graduates into lower-income fields, such as counseling or teaching.

However, the White House pledged to find a way to compare similar institutions. If possible, that could reduce some worries about the ratings.

Higher education experts said another concern about the metrics would be for the large number of lower-income and adult students who are interested only in attending one local institution. The nearest community college is often the only option for students, although online programs are becoming more viable.

Brian Kelly, editor of U.S. News and World Report, said he welcomes more information about the performance of colleges. But he predicted that the White House ratings would be used differently than his publication's popular rankings.

"It's a policy tool that they're creating," said Kelly. "I don't think it's something consumers are going to flock to."

Given the open-access mission of community colleges, many of their leaders will be wary of Obama’s proposed rating system, said David Baime, the American Association of Community Colleges’ senior vice president of government relations and research.

“Our institutions don’t like to be rated or ranked,” he said. “It’s antithetical to their nature.”

A worse-case scenario would be if students at a community college that got dinged in the rating system were unable to receive the full Pell Grant amount. Even a few hundred dollars could keep them from attending college at all, experts said.

“To limit student choice would be very unpopular,” said Thelin.

However, Shireman said the federal government already prevents students from using aid money at certain institutions. The feds do not allow aid dollars to flow to colleges with high loan default rates, for example. He said that precedent could and should be expanded under the president’s proposal.

“We use metrics now to restrict peoples’ choice,” Shireman said. The key question, he said, is “what are we willing to subsidize?”

Doug Lederman contributed to this article.

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/08/23/higher-education-leaders-respond-obamas-ambitous-ratings-system-plan#ixzz2d57Q0BwG
Inside Higher Ed

APSCU Press Release: APSCU Statement on President Obama's Education Bus Tour

For Immediate Release
August 22, 2013

Contact: Noah Black, noah.black@apscu.org

Washington, DC - As President Obama begins his postsecondary education bus tour in New York, APSCU President and CEO Steve Gunderson released the following statement:

"We hope the Administration and the U.S. Department of Education work with Congress to improve simplicity, accountability and transparency in all of postsecondary education during Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

"Our institutions are the ones most able to address our nation's growing skills gap, and educate the new traditional student, so we stand ready to continue in our role as the leading innovators in skills-based, career-focused training in high-demand industries.

"We want to work with the Administration, the Department, Congress, students and all of postsecondary education to create a system puts the interests of students first through improved transparency and greater accountability."

APSCU also released a new white paper titled, "America's Private Sector Colleges and Universities: Generating Real Value for Students & Society."  The paper provides a detailed look at the return on investment for credentials from private sector colleges and universities. The paper includes a set of graphics that detail:

        Students served
        Credentials awarded
        Service to active duty military and veterans
        Benefits to local communities

APSCU Higher Education Act Reauthorization proposal background
For HEA Reauthorization, APSCU specifically recommended a better approach to eligibility and participation in federal student financial aid programs that focused on measurement of student progression through postsecondary education and eventual outcomes that allow students and taxpayers to conclude whether institutions and educational programs are indeed delivering an acceptable return on investment. Such quantitative indicators included:

        retention and progression rates
        completion and return on investment
        employment of graduates
        earnings and/or salary gains
        graduate satisfaction

The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) is a voluntary membership organization of accredited, private postsecondary schools, institutes, colleges and universities that provide career-specific educational programs. APSCU has 1,400 members that educate and support over 3 million students each year for employment in over 200 occupational fields. APSCU member institutions provide the full range of higher education programs, including master's and doctorate degrees, two- and four-year associate and baccalaureate degree programs, and short-term certificate and diploma programs.


Direct link to Press Release: http://www.apscu.org/news-and-media/press-releases/statement-on-president-obama-education-bus-tour.cfm?cs_forceReadMode=1

Steve Gunderson letter on the passing of Randy Proto

August 15, 2013


Some messages are more difficult to share than others. Our friend and colleague Randy Proto passed away Monday morning after a courageous and valiant battle against cancer. Even after his diagnosis and treatment, he lifted up the spirits of so many with his optimism and fighting spirit. Until the very end he was active in all things related to our sector, especially APSCU. For that we will miss him dearly.

Anyone who met Randy instantly saw his excitement and energy when it came to education. He spent more than 30 years working to improve access, delivery and outcomes for students. At the time of his passing he was the Chief Strategy Officer at Premier Education Group. As the CSO, he was a member of the executive team responsible for creating, communicating and implementing strategic initiatives across their 27 campuses.

Randy was active in our sector's work at the local, state and national levels. He was a board member of the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools, chairing their Scholarship Committee, which provides over $1.5 million in scholarships each year. At the national level, Randy was a stalwart supporter of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. He served in many different capacities, most recently as a member of the Grassroots and PAC Committees. Randy understood the importance of educating and engaging policymakers on the need for public policy that was in the best interest of our students. Whether it was a personal commitment or asking his colleagues to support an event, Randy answered the call. During his fight with cancer Randy continued to serve. His most recent leadership role was serving as chair of the event honoring Congressman John Kline, Chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. In a way, that only describes his courage and optimism because Randy had already volunteered to co-chair the dinner celebrating the work of Art Keiser this December.

Randy began his work with career education as a computer programming student at Computer Processing Institute in Connecticut. After graduating from CPI in 1978, he worked as an adjunct professor, instructor and Department Chair in its southern Connecticut location before serving as Director of Education, Director of Admissions, Director of Campus Operations, and Campus President at its New Jersey location.

In 1986, he founded the Rhodes Group and acquired suburban Technical School in New York with eleven campuses. Among its schools was Dover Business College, which became part of the group in 1991.  In 1994, he joined Whitman Education Group as its President and Chief Operating Officer growing the organization to twenty-three campuses and an enrollment of 9,000 students. From 1996 to 2007, Randy was involved with the founding of the American Institute schools as an investor and board member. In 2005, he became President of the School of Health Careers in Florida. In 2007, he became the CEO of American Institutes Holdings, with a group of schools focused primarily on the delivery of degree and non-degree allied health programs. Just as he was passionate about his work with his students and schools, he was a loving husband to Maria and their son, Christopher.

Randy was a fighter until the very end.  He willingly shared with many of us the complexity of his disease and the countless decisions the family had to make navigating his journey. In Randy's life, nothing was simple and everything was focused on the future. His wife had hoped that Randy's wishes for his final days could be honored by reading the documents he had prepared. But in classic Randy fashion, it was a 50-page document! Randy lived the complicated professional challenge of meeting the unique needs of each student he was privileged to serve. How could death be easy and simple when, for Randy, there was so much yet to do?

For me, and hundreds – if not thousands – of people in our sector, Randy always reached out to offer his help, his counsel, and his support. We are a better sector because of Randy's legacy of service. We are better people because Randy touched our lives in incredible ways. We will miss him at our national and Florida meetings. His spirit and contributions will live on in each of us for years to come.

Blessed be his memory. Our sympathy goes out to his dear wife and his son; and to all those who were close to him.

A memorial service will be held on Monday, August 19th at 11:00 a.m. at Norfield Congregational Church, 64 Norfield Road, Weston, Conn., 06883. Following the services, lunch will be served at the Proto Family's home. The address and directions will be given at the service. There will be a private family burial this week. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Lustgarten Foundation.

With deepest sympathy,
Steve Gunderson
President and CEO

The Evolllution: Four Ways Congress Can Help the New Traditional Student

August 12, 2013
By Steve Gunderson | President, Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities

Postsecondary education faces critical challenges in the coming years. These range from cost, access, technology and the skills gap to quality, productivity, accountability and globalization. To make matters even more vital, 65 percent of all new jobs will require some level of postsecondary education by 2020. Unfortunately, there seems to be no agreement as to what needs to be done — or by whom.

For the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) and our member institutions, financial aid is an important issue because of the integral role it plays in opening the doors of education for the students we serve. Our primary focus in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) remains on policies that particularly assist our students and families who would not have the opportunity to pursue higher education without federal student aid.

Ultimately, there are four initiatives that will help meet the challenge of educating our citizens by 2020.

1. Policies that facilitate credit transfer so degree completion is not delayed as a result of repeating coursework.

The majority of postsecondary students now attend more than one institution before completing their education. When students transfer, they face the nerve-wracking and uncertain task of having credits accepted by the new institution. The rejection of credits they have earned costs them in terms of time (needing to retake classes and delayed entry into the workforce) and money (in the form of additional loans and grants).

2. Access to year-round Pell Grants designed to help students complete their degrees faster so they can join the workforce sooner.

Many jobs don’t require a traditional four-year degree, and shorter-term training programs often provide the skills and certification necessary to move people from unemployment into work. Most of our programs (certificate and degree-based programs) run non-stop until the student completes the course, with no break for the summer. Yet federal funds aren’t available over the full calendar year to help students who would benefit from year-round programs. This initiative would enable non-stop funding for the short-term credential programs and all academic programs, so students can complete their course work as soon as possible and enter the workforce sooner.

3. Consumer information adjusted according to the risk level of the students served and put into context so students can see, realistically, how they may perform compared to their peers.

We believe in providing all students and their families with as much accurate information as possible to assist them in making the right academic and career choices for their future. For this information to be of real accuracy and value, it must compare students with similar challenges and/or risk factors with other students facing the same challenges and risks. No one should compare the outcomes of a high school graduate going to Princeton University full time with a first-generation adult, with children, returning to school on a part-time basis to pursue an occupational certificate program. We all support outcomes and accountability; we just want to make sure such evaluations are appropriately developed.

4. An easy-to-navigate federal student aid system, more specifically, one that standardizes terms and delivery of aid. It should also improve repayment options to ease financial burdens and recognize individual student circumstances.

The federal student aid system is too confusing for any student or family to understand and navigate.  We need to move towards one grant program and one loan program for all students. In doing so, we need to develop both a delivery system and a repayment program that assist the student in managing their financial aid in the easiest possible ways with the goal of preventing student defaults.

Much like the loan repayment models used in Australia and as proposed in the Earnings Contingent Education Loans Act of 2012, a student’s monthly loan repayment should be calculated based on the student’s subsequent income. A manageable percentage could be deducted automatically from his or her earnings, similar to the Social Security or Medicare programs. And, as a student’s income fluctuates, the payment — as with other federal withholdings — would automatically change to remain at an affordable level, essentially eliminating the ruinous impact of loan defaults on students who simply do not have the ability to repay.

The challenges that lie ahead are merely opportunities waiting to be discovered. APSCU and its member institutions believe initiatives such as the ones outlined in this article could provide opportunities for millions of Americans seeking a career-focused education.

Read more about APSCU’s initiatives and proposals to Congress in APSCU’s Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Inside Higher Ed: Kanter Joins the Exodus

August 14, 2013
By: Doug Lederman

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration's highest-ranking higher education official, Under Secretary of Education Martha J. Kanter, is the latest in a string of departures that has left the executive branch's higher education team awfully thin. An e-mail message to colleagues Tuesday evening said that she would "return to academia" this fall, but provided no details about where she would land.

Kanter, who joined the Education Department in 2009 from her position as chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, was said at the time to be the first community college official to reach such a high rank within the agency.

During her time at the department, she took an active role in issues that had been near and dear to her as a California community college leader, leading the administration's efforts to bolster two-year institutions (many of which stalled amid budget constraints) and promoting the use of open educational resources to try to lower textbook costs. She has remained highly accessible to higher education officials, who characterized her as someone who fully grasped their issues even as she pursued policies (like the one setting a federal definition of the "credit hour") with which campus leaders vehemently disagreed.

"She was the one person who really, truly understood what goes on on a college and university campus," said Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education. "She was always somebody who was easy to reach and talk to about the impact the administration's policies might have."

Kanter leaves the department at a time when, as she described it in her e-mail, the administration has an "ambitious statutory, regulatory and administrative agenda," including a redo of its botched effort to require vocational programs to prove that they are preparing students for "gainful employment" and the pending renewal of the Higher Education Act. President Obama has also stepped up his rhetoric promising a campaign to constrain higher education prices and compel colleges and universities to prove their value.

How the administration expects to undertake a multifaceted effort on those and other fronts with vacancies in its top two higher education political positions (Kanter's job and the assistant secretary for postsecondary education) and after the loss of several of its most senior career service officials is hard to fathom.

Hartle described Kanter's departure on top of the others as "very worrisome" given the agency's ambitious plans.

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/08/14/martha-kanter-leave-education-department#ixzz2bxfCNYUg
Inside Higher Ed

The Chroncile of Higher Education: Kaplan Will Dominate New Washington Post Co. After Newspaper Is Sold

August 06, 2013

By Eric Kelderman

For nearly three decades, the test-preparation and education company Kaplan Inc. has relied on the prestige and integrity of its corporate owner, the Washington Post Company, to promote its brand.

But The Washington Post announced on Monday that Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, had purchased the newspaper division of the company for $250-million.

Kaplan and its subsidiaries, including Kaplan Higher Education and its mostly online Kaplan University, will remain part of the publicly traded Washington Post Company and will continue operating largely as they were before the sale of the newspaper, said Rima Calderon, a spokeswoman for the Post Company. The parent company will also continue, though under a new, still unspecified name.

But Kaplan's prominence within that company will grow as a result of the sale of the newspaper. In its 2012 annual report, the Post Company reported that education accounted for 55 percent of its revenue. Without the newspaper division, education will account for nearly two-thirds of the company's revenue.

It's not clear how the newspaper's split from the rest of the company will affect the performance of those other businesses, which include cable and network television stations.

Kaplan, like many other for-profit higher-education companies, has already seen a decline in its fortunes primarily because of falling enrollment. Enrollment at Kaplan Higher Education and Kaplan University dropped from more than 67,000 students at the end of June 2012 to about 62,000 at the end of June 2013, a decline of about 8 percent, according to the company's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Revenue at Kaplan Higher Education fell 9 percent for the first six months of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012, according to its most recent report to the commission.

The company blamed the trend on weaker market demand and the fact that it is closing or consolidating more than a dozen campuses across the country.

Direct link to article: http://chronicle.com/article/Kaplan-Will-Dominate-New/140887/

Inside Higher Ed: Previewing the Higher Ed Act

By Doug Lederman

August 05, 2013

WASHINGTON – Creating a federal unit records database to track students into and through higher education. Seeking expansion of the federal antitrust exemption to let private colleges share information about pricing and financial aid. Lowering the amount of federal loan funds students can borrow based on the kind of program they’re in and the kind of credential they’re seeking. Letting accreditors create a “fast track” process for approving colleges that are considered “low risk” to students and to the public. Adjusting the data used to judge the performance of colleges to account for the academic and financial “risk factors” of their students.

Those are some of the ideas that various higher education groups have put forward in their initial recommendations for how Congress might consider rewriting the Higher Education Act, if and when lawmakers actually get around to considering the main federal law governing federal programs for students and higher education.

Given recent history and the legislative gridlock in this city, Congress may not actually renew the law until President Obama’s successor is in office. But the education committee House of Representatives at least got the process started by requesting advice -- and in response to a Friday deadline its leaders set, college and other groups flooded the panel with recommendations for revising the law.
Exhaustively cataloging and categorizing the various proposals will take days, if not more. But consider this article a first pass at identifying some of the key issues and ideas that a range of higher ed groups want to put on the table for Congress.

Not surprisingly, the proposals read in many cases like wish lists – frequently for Congress to authorize more spending for key programs (Pell Grants, work study, funds for minority institutions, etc.).
There are areas of broad agreement – for imposing tougher requirements on states to do their part to finance higher education, for instance, and for reinstating year-round Pell Grants – and some significant areas of acknowledged disagreement, such as whether the desire for comparable data about student progress in higher education outweigh privacy concerns in arguing for a federal database of student academic progress.

Having Their Say
It’s not clear how many groups submitted reauthorization proposals in response to the call by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and there are numerous other plans floating around for remaking the federal financial aid programs, including those produced out of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery effort and another Pell Grant-focused proposal made by a College Board-convened panel.

But Friday’s House deadline brought proposals from several higher education associations, including a consensus document drafted by the American Council on Education on behalf of about 40 college and accrediting groups, as well as individual plans from a pair of community college groups and the Association of American Universities. (A task force of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators has its own draft plan.) Consumer groups such as the Institute for College Access and Success also submitted statements, and the main advocate for for-profit colleges, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, released its own reauthorization plan several months ago.

What follows is a look at how the groups weighed in on some of the key issues Congress and the Obama administration (which has yet to come forward with its own reauthorization plan) are likely wrestle with as they consider the Higher Education Act.

Pell Grants
For all the talk from think tanks and entities outside higher education about significantly reconfiguring the bedrock financial aid program for low-income students, higher education groups -- pretty much across the board -- want to leave the Pell Grant Program largely alone.
"The Pell Grant program is fundamentally sound in terms of structure and operation, and this is a tremendous achievement given the enormous variety of students and institutions in higher education. Proposals to fundamentally restructure the program should be resisted," the American Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees (in a not-so-subtle tweak to some of the think tank reports) said in their joint submission to the House education panel.

To the extent that the Pell Grant is falling short of its goal of increasing college access, the two-year-college groups and others suggested, that's because Congress has in recent years restrained it for budget reasons in ways that have done harm to some of the country's neediest students.
Virtually across the board, the new crop of proposals urge Congress to restore Pell Grants for students without a high school diploma or GED who can show the "ability to benefit" from a higher education, to restore grants for summer study, and to raise the cap (reduced to 12 semesters in 2011) on the number of semesters for which students can receive a Pell Grant. (The community college groups suggest 14 semesters, the Institute for College Access and Success recommends 7.5 years.)

The associations don't stop at restoring what the Pell Grant Program has lost -- they urge expanding it. Both the for-profit group and the two-year-college associations propose making the grants available to students in short-term programs; APSCU focuses on certificate and licensure programs, while the community college groups suggest that institutions be permitted to use up to 2 percent of their Pell funds for "programs that are not current eligible for Title IV, but which are formally aligned with programs that are. In particular, new forms of remedial education, especially when it is delivered in a modular format, often do not mesh neatly with the Title IV structure."

Student Loans

All of the college groups' statements recognize the extent to which concerns about student debt have permeated the public consciousness (and the agendas of policy makers). But their ideas for addressing it vary significantly.

As with the cuts that Congress imposed on Pell Grants two years ago, the associations almost invariably urge that lawmakers keep the in-school subsidy for federal student loans, in which the government pays the interest on loans while students are in college. The subsidy was eliminated for graduate students and deficit hawks have targeted the benefit for undergraduates.

But the groups also call for giving institutions more authority to limit how much students borrow, amid widespread agreement among them that students are, in many cases, borrowing more than they need to cover personal as well as educational expenses. "Congress should grant institutions the authority to set borrowing limits at lower levels for groups of students based on factors such as the particular program of study, course load or level of academic preparation," ACE said in its letter. (APSCU, NASFAA and the community college groups suggest roughly similar ideas.)

The groups express strong support for consolidating the government's various income-based loan repayment plans into one better, stronger program, and the community college groups, in particular, call for adjusting institutions' default rates based on the proportion of their students who borrow (such that colleges where relatively few students borrow -- like community colleges -- would look better).


If the associations' calls for additional funds for Pell Grants (as well as for other student aid programs, colleges that serve minority groups, and college access efforts like TRIO) may reinforce critics' sense that college leaders think more money is the answer to all that ails higher education, the groups' views on consumer protection and regulation may confirm the sense that higher education officials aren't really interested in more government oversight.

The groups, uniformly, acknowledge the government's role in protecting consumers and taxpayers. "Students need clear, concise, and usable information that enables them to make optimal decisions about the college and program that best suits them," the two-year-college associations wrote. "The federal government needs to improve upon its vital role in ensuring that students and consumers receive accurate information about institutions and their programs."

But a consistent theme throughout the letters is that the government's current regulatory efforts are overly complex, duplicative and often overwhelming. Even as they call for pruning unnecessary regulations and streamlining reporting of information about institutional performance, they concede that some new data on student outcomes may be necessary. (The Association of American Universities urges Congress -- before it establishes new reporting requirements -- to "evaluate the results" of the many voluntary reporting efforts that higher ed associations have undertaken in recent years, "to determine whether more useful and appropriate federal metrics can be adopted in the future.")

On the thorny question of whether it is time for the federal government to establish a student-level database to track the performance of programs and institutions, the American Council on Education -- which frequently finds itself in the middle of the competing views of different college sectors -- dodges the question. It notes that proposals to create such a system "embrace complex and controversial ideas" on which there are "divergent views," and that the ideas "ought to and will receive a full and careful consideration" in reauthorization.

The primary group opposing a student records database, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, signed on to the ACE letter, but in its own proposal argues for continuing the federal ban on such a unit records system. "NAICU supported the 2008 prohibition in the interest of protecting student privacy, and we believe the prohibition should be maintained," the association writes. "We do not see the need to re-ignite the debate over student privacy rights; nor do we see the value of investing still more money into building data systems."

The community college groups, which generally support a unit record system, say so (if not forcefully) in their letter: "The federal government must ensure that students are tracked throughout their course in postsecondary education. There are different routes to achieving this end, but the lack of national framework for monitoring student progress, such as a federal unit record database, must be addressed." The two-year colleges, among other things, urge Congress to alter the federal graduation rate to credit institutions for students who transfer to other colleges.

But the group that goes furthest in calling for more accountability is the for-profit-college association. It urges a "fundamentally different approach to eligibility and participation in federal student financial aid programs" that would rigorously measure student outcomes in areas such as retention and progression rates, completion and return on investment, and graduates' employment, earnings and satisfaction.

"Comprehensive, consistent performance indicators that apply equally across sectors of postsecondary education are needed to paint a true picture of the return on investment -- in both time and money -- a student gains through postsecondary education," APSCU wrote in its reauthorization statement. It suggests that Congress establish a demonstration project to develop the right indicators, and possibly create a private nonprofit entity -- with representatives of employers, students, researchers as well as college officials -- to oversee the new accountability regime.

Assorted Other Issues

Among the other ideas and proposals that the groups put forward in their plans:

    NAICU, the independent-college association, suggests in its reauthorization proposal that Congress consider "amending and expanding the exemption from antitrust restrictions for private, nonprofit colleges for purposes of promoting affordability." College leaders believe that the antitrust proposal could let them collaborate in ways that would allow them to jointly reduce their spending on non-need-based aid, resulting either in increased financial aid for students or lowered tuition prices (or both).

    On the question of how much the federal government should encourage -- or impede -- efforts to stimulate technological change and innovation in higher education, the groups offer mixed assessments (but generally disagree with the push from some think tanks to let federal aid increasingly flow to nontraditional, or even unaccredited, providers of higher education). "In order to meet the increasing demand for higher education and to meet the changing needs of students, the higher education enterprise is experimenting with and offering new delivery models and technologies," including massive open online courses, the Association of American Universities writes. While these models could be helpful, AAU writes, more experimentation is necessary before the federal government should throw its backing behind them. "We believe that these and other innovative activities should demonstrate their quality before Congress opens up eligibility for the student aid program."

    The associations generally back the idea that Congress needs to continue (and in some cases step up) its effort to compel states to do their part to maintain their funding of public colleges and students, as lawmakers did in the economic stimulus legislation late in the last decade. "We support a maintenance-of-effort (MOE) provision that would require states to continue to fund public higher education at historic levels. Despite some fiscal sleights-of-hand, the maintenance-of-effort provisions included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided tremendously helpful financial sustenance to institutions," the community college groups write. "Ideally, MOE provisions would be based on per-student funding levels, rather than aggregate amounts that do not reflect increased enrollment levels."

    The groups express little appetite for the sorts of dramatic reconfiguring of accreditation that some outside groups advocate. The most dramatic shift contained in this batch of recommendations comes from AAU, which (backed by ACE and the consensus proposal) suggests that accreditors be given the authority to judge institutions differently based on the amount of "risk" they pose to students and taxpayers.
    The for-profit-college group ends its reauthorization proposal that could send chills down the spine of college leaders who remember Margaret Spellings' Commission on the Future of Higher Education none too fondly: a call for a new panel. "We all agree that higher education faces critical challenges. These range from cost, access, technology and the skills gap to quality, productivity, accountability, and globalization," APSCU writes. "Unfortunately, there seems to be no agreement as to what needs to be done or by whom. A national commission created by the president to look into these issues and provide a plan for the future of higher education could be a valuable tool in keeping us on a pathway for the United States to remain a leader in the global economy."

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/08/05/higher-ed-groups-offer-suggestions-revamping-higher-education-act#ixzz2b6M0vKgDInside Higher Ed

Politico: For-profit colleges fear another attack

By Libby A. Nelson
August 01, 2013

The Obama administration isn’t backing away from its crackdown on for-profit colleges.

A federal panel will tackle one of most controversial college regulations in Education Department history next month. The rule was meant to ensure that graduates of for-profit colleges are getting jobs and repaying their loans, but it was struck down last summer after a court challenge — so the department is going back to the drawing board.

The 15-member panel picked this week to rewrite the rule includes some prominent critics of for-profit colleges, who are already accusing the Education Department of bias against the industry.

The department’s 2011 “gainful employment” rule was a federal response to allegations that for-profit colleges were graduating students who wound up deeply in debt for useless degrees. It required those colleges to meet one of three standards to participate in federal financial aid programs.

Programs had to meet one of three benchmarks: At least 35 percent of graduates had to be repaying federal student loans, or have total loan debt of less than 30 percent of their discretionary income or 12 percent of their overall income. They would lose eligibility if they couldn’t do meet any benchmark for three out of four years. The rule also applied to vocational and certificate programs at nonprofit and public colleges.

Many consumer advocates thought the rule was too soft. But for-profit colleges sued, arguing the department had overreached. Last summer, a federal judge threw out the 35 percent repayment rate requirement, saying it was arbitrary. That made enforcing the rule all but impossible.

But the regulation, as well as Senate hearings on the industry, stoked national concern about for-profit colleges. State attorneys general launched investigations in 30 states. Veterans’ groups and student organizations joined the fray and began pushing for tougher regulations. The panel writing the rules includes many more representatives from those groups, and fewer from higher education, than it did the first time around.

It also includes many more attorneys—perhaps because the Education Department is acutely aware of the legal challenges new regulations will almost certainly face.

The Education Department also included two for-profit colleges that in some ways resemble traditional colleges. Both would have no trouble meeting the regulation’s requirements if repayment rates—the measure the court threw out—were excluded. Strayer University, whose general counsel was selected, has argued that it shouldn’t be subject to the regulation at all because it has more in common with a nonprofit university than a typical vocational college.

“Repeating the biased and tainted process of the past, the committee has multiple representatives who are on-the-record or work for entities that are blatant, vocal opponents of the existence of our institutions,” Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, said in a statement. “If the past is any indication of what may follow, a committee with this make-up will create regulations that stifle education innovation, cost jobs and displace the students who benefit most from career and job-focused training.”

The key question will be whether the panel can come close to agreeing on a new version of the regulations. The Education Department brings stakeholders together to deal with the details of regulations. If the stakeholders agree, that agreement forms the base for new regulation. If they can’t reach a consensus, the department writes the rule itself. The latter is what happened the last time around.

Congress has also tackled the subject: The House has marked up a bill that would stop the regulatory process and throw out the old regulation, and the chamber might vote on it as negotiations begin in September.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/for-profit-colleges-fear-another-attack-95097.html#ixzz2aojL3dXv