FAPSC: What you won't read in the Miami Herald this weekend

150 South Monroe Street, Suite 303
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Phone: (850) 577-3139 | Fax: (850) 577-3133


Higher Education Stakeholders,

Critics of private sector institutions continue to rely on dated anecdotes to portray our institutions in a negative light. These reports overlook the fact that private sector institutions are opening doors of opportunity for traditionally underserved students and creating a more skilled and educated workforce across the country.

One-sided portrayals of our sector are not only misleading, but they are damaging to the more than 500,000 students who have graduated from a Florida Career College in the last 5 years. Many graduates who are able to accelerate their careers and improve their lifetime earnings by attending our institutions, as well as their communities and employers. This reality is backed by recent studies (such as those presented by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce) demonstrating the value of a postsecondary education for students over their lifetimes.

In and out of Florida, our sector is opening doors that traditional higher education institutions have not.
In 2013, private sector institutions educated 296,578 students, or 18 percent of the total enrollment in the state of Florida. Of these students, 65 percent were female, 35 percent were veterans, and 30 percent were African American. All of these figures were higher for private sector institutions than the average of all universities in Florida.

Private sector institutions continue to enroll and educate a higher proportion of new traditional students than public and private non-profit universities. Private sector institutions do a better job of meeting the needs of these students by offering flexible course options and specific student services. New traditional students are also more likely to rely on federal financial aid, be older than the average student, work while attending class, and/or support a family. As research shows, relying on student debt anecdotes in an attempt to represent the landscape of student debt distorts the reality of the situation. The actual average borrowing debt for students who graduated in 2012 was $29,400, while the average borrowing debt for students featured in news articles was $85,400. Horrifying stories of debt may make for good click-bait, but they fail to represent the reality of the situation and overshadow the myriad benefits that so many individuals, from students, to local economies, to taxpayers receive from private sector institutions.

Private sector institutions are also more responsive to the needs of employers. Specifically, private sector institutions are awarding more credentials in high demand fields, such as business, computer and information sciences, engineering, and health professions, than public and private non-profit institutions.
60% of all Healthcare graduates in Florida
60% of all Information and Technology graduates in Florida (Sources: USDOE data at http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/and the Florida Commission for Independent Education)

As the demand for middle skills grow and the skills gap becomes larger in the modern U.S. economy, private sector institutions are already responding by educating more students that can fill these roles. As a result, private sector graduates are more likely to have a career in their degree field than the average student. Additionally, these institutions provided jobs to 16,085 full time equivalent employees in Florida in 2013. In Florida alone, our institutions provide significant economic outcomes as well. In 2013, private sector colleges and universities generated a total economic impact of over $3.5 billion. This activity also generates $198.11 million in state and local revenues.

Contrary to what many headlines would have you believe, our institutions are saving taxpayer money. Without private sector institutions, states would either need to contribute significantly more taxpayer dollars each year to satisfy the demand for postsecondary education, or deny access to individuals seeking to continue their educations. In 2012, taxpayer savings in Florida amounted to $261 million according to Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (Source: Jorge Klor de Alva and Mark Schneider, Nexus Research and Policy Center)

We stand ready to work with all stakeholders that want to advance policies that improve student access and opportunity. We will not stand silent when our work and success is misrepresented.


Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges


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