U.S. Department of Education: Education Department Announces Final Rule on State Authorization of Postsecondary Distance Education, Foreign Locations

December 16, 2016
The U.S. Department of Education today released final regulations to improve oversight and protect more than 5.5 million distance education students at degree-granting institutions including nearly 3 million exclusively online students by clarifying the state authorization requirements for postsecondary distance education.

To ensure that institutions offering distance education are legally authorized and monitored by states, as required by the Higher Education Act, the final regulations clarify state authorization requirements for institutions to participate in the Department’s federal student aid programs. The regulations also address state and federal oversight of American colleges operating in foreign locations worldwide.

“We’re proud that these regulations build on good ideas from stakeholders across the nation that balance accountability and flexibility for institutions as they seek to better serve students and taxpayers,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell.

In 2006, Congress abolished a rule restricting access to federal student aid for distance education programs. Since then, the number of students enrolled in online degree programs has significantly increased.  By 2014, more than half of students at for-profit institutions were enrolled in exclusively distance education courses, compared with an estimated 9 percent of students in public institutions and 15 percent of students in private nonprofit institutions.

State authorization is a longstanding requirement in the Higher Education Act that requires institutions to be authorized in the state in which they are located as a condition for eligibility to receive Title IV Federal student aid.  While all higher education institutions must have state authorization in the states in which they are physically located, there are no federal regulations for distance education providers in states where the institutions are not located. 

The final regulations close this loophole by:
  • Requiring institutions offering distance education or correspondence courses to be authorized by each state in which the institution enrolls students, if such authorization is required by the state. The regulation recognizes authorization through participation in a state authorization reciprocity agreement, as long as the agreement does not prevent a state from enforcing its own laws. 
  • Requiring institutions to document the state process for resolving student complaints regarding distance education programs.
  • Requiring public and individualized disclosures to enrolled and prospective students in distance education programs, including adverse actions taken against the school, the school’s refund policies, and whether each program meets applicable state licensure or certification requirements.  The regulation will also require schools to explain to students the consequences of moving to a state where the school is not authorized, which could include loss of eligibility for federal student aid.
  • Requiring that foreign branch campuses or locations be authorized by the appropriate foreign government agency and, if at least half of a program can be completed at the foreign location or branch campus, be approved by the accrediting agency and reported to the state where the main campus is located.
The Department received 139 comments from postsecondary institutions and associations, distance education advocates, student and consumer advocacy groups, and State attorneys general.  These comments concerned various provisions in the proposed rule (e.g., state authorization reciprocity agreements, state authorization, consumer complaint systems, and consumer disclosures), and the final rule reflects consideration of these comments and perspectives. 

The Department previously regulated on state authorization of both physical locations and distance education in 2010, but a federal court vacated the distance education portion of the rule on procedural grounds in 2011.  The other portions of the 2010 state authorization rule relating to physical locations were implemented last year.  Similar to the final rule, the 2010 physical locations rule also required institutions to be authorized by states having a state-based consumer complaint system.

These final regulations further a longstanding regulatory effort by the Department to support state oversight of schools that offer distance or correspondence education and protect students in those programs.

The final regulations will be published in the Federal Register on Dec. 19.

Direct link to article: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/education-department-announces-final-rule-state-authorization-postsecondary-distance-education-foreign-locations

U.S. Department of Education:

Education Department Establishes Enhanced Federal Aid Participation Requirements for ACICS-accredited Colleges

December 12, 2016

Beginning today, the U.S. Department of Education will inform colleges accredited by the Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) of additional operating conditions required for continued participation in the federal student aid programs. These new provisions will apply to ACICS-accredited institutions and follow U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.'s final decision to withdraw federal recognition of the accrediting agency.

Although ACICS is no longer a federally recognized accrediting agency, the Department may provisionally certify ACICS-accredited institutions for continued participation in the federal student aid programs for up to 18 months from the date of the Secretary's final decision. This 18-month provisional certification period allows institutions to seek accreditation from another federally recognized accrediting agency.& During this period of provisional certification, the Department will require the ACICS-accredited institutions to comply with additional conditions that are designed to protect students and safeguard taxpayer dollars. These conditions include additional monitoring, transparency, oversight and accountability measures. Only ACICS-accredited institutions that agree to these conditions may continue to offer Federal Loans and Pell Grants.

The Department's Federal Student Aid office will promptly begin sending provisional program participation agreements (PPAs) to the affected institutions, which will have 10 days to respond affirmatively to the new agreements or will lose eligibility for federal student aid programs.
The additional PPA conditions establish triggers tied directly to milestones in the accreditation process to ensure that institutions not on track to receive accreditation from a federally-recognized accrediting agency within 18 months are subject to progressively stronger student and taxpayer protections. During the term of their provisional PPAs, institutions must also abide by requirements previously enforced by ACICS.

Within 30 days, all ACICS-accredited institutions will be required to submit teach-out plans for helping students complete their academic programs elsewhere if necessary, and submit information about recent and ongoing investigations to ensure the Department is aware of key risks in this new environment of reduced oversight.

Additional conditions triggered by institutions missing milestones on the path to obtaining accreditation from a federally recognized accreditor include:
  • Submitting teach-out agreements to ensure a path to completion for students in the event of closure;
  • Providing enhanced disclosures to students regarding  potential loss of federal student aid eligibility;
  • Limiting enrollment of new students;
  • Submitting monthly student rosters and a record retention plan; and
  • Posting a letter of credit to protect against taxpayer losses associated with school closure.&
"Protecting and supporting students throughout their education is the Department's chief priority. When we find that an accrediting agency is not effectively protecting students, and is putting taxpayer funding at risk, we will use every tool we have to hold it accountable--just as Congress requires and families expect," said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. "In this case, that means that we more closely monitor their schools in the absence of a reliable accreditor. During this transition, we will do everything we can to help students continue on the path to complete their programs."

ACICS No Longer Recognized as Federal Aid "Gatekeeper"

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. informed ACICS of his decision regarding its appeal of the Senior Department Official's Sept. 22 decision to end federal recognition of the accrediting agency. His determination is consistent with the Department's accreditation staff recommendation and the recommendation of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), a bi-partisan, independent advisory board appointed by Congress. Secretary King's decision is the Department's final action. Effective immediately, ACICS is no longer a federally recognized accrediting agency, and can no longer serve as a "gatekeeper" of institutional eligibility for federal student aid programs.

In his decision, Secretary King noted, "I find ACICS to be out of compliance with numerous agency criteria. Because of the nature and scope of ACICS's pervasive noncompliance, I further conclude that ACICS is not capable of coming into compliance within 12 months or less, even if I renewed its recognition for an additional 12 months." He added, "The interests of students are of foremost concern to me and this Department, but students' interests are best served by proper application of the recognition criteria. This is also required by law."

As the accreditation staff analysis of ACICS noted, the Department identified significant areas of concern, including insufficient institutional monitoring, failure to meet its Title IV responsibilities, lax enforcement of the agency's existing accrediting standards, particularly the student achievement standard, and the rigor of the agency's accreditation and pre-accreditation standards. In accordance with agency recognition renewal procedures, this analysis was shared with NACIQI and informed its recommendation to withdraw federal recognition of ACICS.

ACICS accredits approximately 250 institutions participating in federal student aid programs according to information from the College Scorecard and the Department's institutional database. These institutions enroll roughly 300,000 undergraduate students who receive federal aid.

Strengthening the Accreditation System

As part of an ongoing commitment to strengthen the transparency and rigor of accreditation for colleges and universities, the Department has taken a series of steps to promote outcomes-driven accountability, such as:
  • Streamlining the process for accreditors to share information about institutional statuses. Institutional accreditors are now required to submit decision letters when they place Title IV eligible institutions on probation. The Department will soon begin to post online all publicly releasable portions of such letters.
  • Publishing each accreditor's standards for evaluating student outcomes. The Department has published each federally recognized agency's stated student achievement measures, including any specific thresholds. Accreditors are required by statute to set standards for student achievement for schools to maintain their accreditation status. Yet there are significant differences in the form, specificity, and performance levels among accreditors. Under current law, the Department is barred from establishing any criteria for agency standards of student achievement. This allows some accreditors to set low or difficult-to-measure thresholds to maintain accreditation status, and others to rely on reviews of thresholds established by the institutions they accredit. Shining a spotlight on current standards is an initial step toward strengthening them.
  • Publishing key student and institutional metrics for postsecondary institutions arranged by accreditors. In June, the Department published "accreditor dashboards" based largely on data largely from the College Scorecard, designed to help policymakers, experts, and the public better understand the student outcomes of institutions that are approved by particular accrediting agencies. These dashboards illustrate the performance of all colleges and universities in each accreditor's institutional portfolio relevant to those measures.
  • Promoting greater emphasis on outcomes within current accreditor review processes. Staff in the Office of Postsecondary Education now have access to critical outcomes data, state and federal litigation reports, and other information about each agency's schools prior to conducting their reviews. This information helps Department staff determine which questions to ask accreditors in preparation for reviews, and helps them evaluate accreditor effectiveness, especially with respect to struggling institutions. Through the accreditor dashboards, the Department supplied outcomes information to NACIQI in advance of its June 2016 meeting to support its training and policy development activities, to help it frame a policy agenda regarding the agency recognition process, and for its own evaluation of accreditor standards and processes. In addition, the Department, within the scope of its current authority, has encouraged accreditors, to apply outcomes-directed measures in accreditation and monitoring of institutions that have weak outcomes.

Shared Responsibility in Ensuring Institutional Accountability

Despite the Department's efforts to strengthen the accreditation system, more work remains. Congress, states, and accreditors must also join in these efforts.

States play an important role in overseeing colleges and universities. And they must take seriously their long-standing role in consumer protection through a robust state authorization and oversight process, as well as ensure active compliance and monitoring of institutions doing business in their states. There is significant opportunity for state attorneys general and state higher education authorizing and licensure bodies to strengthen their coordination and collaboration with one another within and across states in an effort to identify problems, protect students, and hold schools accountable. The Department stands ready to support those efforts.

All accreditors must raise the bar for quality, promote transparency, and renew their focus on student outcomes--not just inputs. And all accreditors must take seriously their responsibility to monitor and take swift action against schools that attempt to defraud their students.

Congress must do more to protect students from unscrupulous institutions that deceive students into taking on debt they will never be able to repay and stick taxpayers with the bill. We must strengthen, not weaken, accountability in higher education. In November 2015, the Department issued a set of legislative recommendations for strengthening accreditation, which include strengthening outcomes-driven and focused review and recognition of accreditors; requiring robust teach-out plans and reserve funds for high-risk institutions; standardizing terminology and reporting of accreditation actions and key outcomes; and increasing transparency on an expanded set of accreditation material and actions.

Direct link to article: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/education-department-establishes-enhanced-federal-aid-participation-requirements-acics-accredited-colleges


Press Release: CECU Statement on Department’s ACICS Decision

December 13, 2016 - Washington, DC - ​The below statement can be attributed to Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of CECU:
​“In denying ACICS’s appeal, the U.S. Department of Education continues their campaign to inflict as much harm as possible on students attending private sector higher education before they leave office.

“The political appointees behind this decision will not have to bear the cost of this decision. Instead it will fall on students, dedicated faculty and staff, and dozens of small business, when hundreds of campuses are unable to get reaccredited. And ultimately the American taxpayer will once again be forced to pick up the tab for these actions.

"No Administration has politicized education or accreditation like the current one. Since the November election the Department has forcibly shutdown two colleges, released faulty and biased gainful employment data, and attached over burdensome and stringent conditions on the sale of a major institution to new owners.

“To act in such a partisan and biased manner does nothing to help new students. Instead of working with stakeholders on all sides of the issue and creating solutions that preserves access, the Department takes the path of greatest destruction. We are hopeful that in 2017, the new Administration and the new Congress will create a new era of constructive collaboration that will result in public policies that survive beyond the politics of any given Administration.”

Inside Higher Education: Completion and the Value of College

December 8, 2016 
The national college completion agenda has reached an inflection point. 
Republican control of the White House, U.S. Congress and most state capitols likely means less focus on the production of higher education credentials, at least those earned at traditional, four-year colleges.

Job training almost certainly will get more attention than college completion in coming years. But those two goals can be compatible. And the completion push already has begun to include looking at what happens to students after they graduate.

Inside Higher Ed spoke with 20 experts who work on college completion from a wide range of perspectives (they are listed below). Some common themes emerged.

The movement and its message have evolved during the seven or so years since the Obama administration joined with the Lumina Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to go all in on a broad effort to increase the proportion of Americans who hold a meaningful postsecondary credential.

The White House at times appeared to focus on the bachelor’s degree in its completion push, particularly early on. But certificates and associate degrees got more attention from Washington in recent years. And this administration did more to elevate community colleges than any previous one, even proposing a national free community college plan based on Tennessee’s completion and work force development-grounded free community college scholarship.
"The job of the community college is going to be more important in the new administration … The administration is going to challenge us to be better connected to the economy and work force needs. But that’s something we’re doing already."
-- Eloy Ortiz Oakley, president of Long Beach Community College and incoming chancellor of California's community college system
Likewise, in 2014 Lumina added “high-quality” certificates to its annual tabulation of progress toward the foundation’s national goal for 60 percent of Americans to hold a college credential by 2025.

That goal, which mirrors one set by the White House, is likely out of reach. In 2014, 45.3 percent of working-age adults held a degree or a job-earning certificate, according to the most recent data from Lumina.

In 2008, Lumina’s metric showed 37.9 percent of Americans holding at least an associate degree, meaning degree attainment is up 2.5 percent during the last six years (4.9 percent of Americans held a high-quality certificate in 2014).

College completion rates have begun to climb after a two-year slide. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center this month said the six-year completion rate grew to 54.8 percent, an increase of roughly two percentage points over the previous year.

While those tepid improvements aren’t all that exciting, the numbers are moving in the right direction as college enrollments have slid, largely due to the collapse of for-profit higher education and the gradual economic recovery since the recession. College enrollments typically go down when the job market improves.
"The question nobody seems to be able to answer is what is the 'right' graduation rate, and I would argue that the answer is 'it depends.' There is no single right or wrong rate, since college completion is influenced by a multitude of factors in addition to quality. At what point do we compromise quality or access in the name of higher completion rates? At what point do we drive the cost so high in order to solve one problem that we end up creating another problem?"
-- Diane Auer Jones, senior fellow at the Urban Institute and former Education Department official during the George W. Bush administration
The completion agenda also has taken root across much of the academy, adding completion to student access as primary goals for higher education.

Many say helping ensure that more students get to graduation was not in the past viewed as central to the jobs of faculty members or even college administrators. That view has changed to a substantial extent (at times provoking worries about a cheapening of college credentials to meet completion demands). Hence the demise of the old trope “look to your left, look to your right, because one of you won't be here by the end of the year.”

Meanwhile, there’s a growing feeling among higher education experts and policy makers of both major political parties that a singular goal of having more Americans earn college credentials isn’t enough.

For one thing, achievement gaps between wealthier white students and their lower-income, more diverse peers have persisted. Academic quality remains a variable, raising the question of what, exactly, students are completing. And increasingly, higher education is under pressure to demonstrate the value of college credentials in the job market.

The Obama administration tried unsuccessfully to link federal financial aid availability to how colleges stack up on student outcomes, including completion rates and graduates’ earnings data. And the White House was able to push through regulations that would sanction for-profits and vocational, nondegree programs at community colleges that fail to meet thresholds for graduates’ ability to repay their loans.

The so-called gainful employment rule probably won’t be the last attempt by the feds to hold colleges accountable for their affordability and for the job-market value of the credentials they issue. Meanwhile, performance-based funding formulas -- some of which include data on graduates’ wages -- are on the books in more than 30 states.
"There are fairly clear biases [among Republicans] about moving beyond completion, moving beyond higher education’s comfort zone."
--Tony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce
Yet support for the college completion agenda could wane if, as many suspect, an administration led by Donald J. Trump were to say that too many people are attending college. Experts say big spending on infrastructure, which the president-elect’s team has discussed, could be heavily focused on jobs for people with high school diplomas, not college credentials -- a substantial portion of Trump voters.
Equally challenging is the general public’s loss of confidence in the value of higher education. While data show that college degrees are increasingly the ticket to the middle class, just 42 percent of Americans say college is necessary for success in the work force, a 13 percent drop since 2009, according to polling by Public Agenda.

Whether or not the college completion momentum continues could depend on how “college” is defined. One-year certificates earned at a community college or for-profit institution count as “college,” too.

Leaders at the Gates and Lumina Foundations say they are undeterred about the completion agenda.

“We’re doubling down,” said Dan Greenstein, director of education and postsecondary success at Gates. He cited “unassailable facts” that “educational attainment tracks directly with earnings.”

Messaging on College Completion Is Shifting
College affordability, student debt and the likelihood of getting a well-paying job after graduation have dominated conversations about higher education in recent years.
Those measures of student success and accountability, particularly with an emphasis on a credential’s value in the labor market, will need to be at the core of the completion agenda for it to remain relevant.
"One of the most important ways to have good relationships with employers is to have direct personal relationships between faculty members and employers. The businesses don’t have any other way to communicate to the world about what they need besides platitudes and gross generalizations."
-- Steven L. Johnson, president of Sinclair Community College
In addition, the push for more students to complete college is a comfortable reform focus for the higher education industry, said Tony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

“This is the kind of problem you want to have,” he said of the higher education industry, arguing that completion also misses the larger concern about value. He calls the push "industrial hygiene,” an attempt to clean up a self-serving issue.

The next iteration of the completion agenda, according to Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of Career Education Colleges and Universities, the for-profit sector’s primary trade group, includes a longer list of imperatives: retention, completion, employment, repayment and student satisfaction.

And the word “college” more often than not should be replaced by “postsecondary skills,” he said.
At the same, time, some observers say higher education has yet to adequately resolve even first-order questions about how its access and student success missions should fit together. As budgets tighten, particularly at public universities and small private colleges, there often are trade-offs between the two and tough decisions to make. Legitimate concerns about the completion push often are conflated with just hewing to the status quo.

Meanwhile, the nation’s widening political divisions haven’t helped advance the crucial discussion about the purpose of college.
"Strident partisanship on the left and right is a tremendous obstacle. We have lost our appetite in this country to understand across boundaries."
--Alison Kadlec, senior vice president and director of higher education and work force programs at Public Agenda
State and Local Governments Will Continue the Completion Push, as Will Colleges Themselves
College completion is a big part of the growing interest in performance-based funding at the state level, particularly in red states like Tennessee, which has perhaps the nation’s most robust completion policies.

Lawmakers in many of these states view college completion as a work force issue. Employers need more skilled workers, and for now, skills are represented by credentials. There also is bipartisan agreement that college outcomes need to improve, including along equity lines. That’s unlikely to change, given worries about the skills gap, job creation and income inequality.

“Postsecondary learning is more important than ever before,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation.

Lumina has shifted its approach to more directly address the work force side of completion. For example, the foundation’s new strategic plan focuses on how to reach adults who hold some college credits but no credential, as well as people who have no higher education experience. To meet its completion goal, Lumina will need to increase attainment in the former group by 6.1 million and 5.1 million in the latter.
"Higher education continues to be a path into the middle class. … I don’t know how we do that without education."
-- Dan Greenstein, director of education and postsecondary success for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Likewise, Tennessee has expanded its free community college program to include slots for returning adult students.

And while free college for all (with annual family income of up to $125,000) is on hold for now, with the defeat of the presidential candidate who championed it, Hillary Clinton, college promise programs like Tennessee’s are spreading to other states and many local communities.

As the college completion agenda matures, several experts said it will move toward a focus on jobs and on the nitty-gritty of implementing the next phases of reforms that began years ago.

For example, as colleges sought to improve graduation rates during the last eight years, they were actually looking at student progression and retention, said Ellen Wagner, vice president of research for Hobsons, a company that works on student success, including the use of data analytics.
"The completion agenda is deeply ingrained in the operating systems of our institutions."
-- David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis for the American Association of Community Colleges
That work has a financial benefit for colleges, because each student retained means one more who doesn’t need to be recruited, which can be expensive. Quitting that effort would be counterproductive.

One way to view the completion agenda, Wagner said, is an effort to “reduce friction” and barriers as students move through a P-20 education system. That’s a big job, she said. “We’re never going to be done with this.”

Don’t expect the federal government to drop its interest in completion, either.

It’s a safe bet that congressional Republicans, who may well be the driving force in federal higher education policy for the next four years if a Trump administration focuses on other topics, will seek a smaller role for the feds. But Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, who will lead the two congressional education committees, are both supportive of the value of higher education and of college completion. (Foxx, though, recently told Inside Higher Ed that she didn’t know what the Obama administration’s completion agenda was.)
"Congress really does hold the cards in terms of how the issues get framed."
-- Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation
Common Ground on Alternatives to the Traditional College Pathway
The incoming Trump administration has floated the idea of an infrastructure improvement program with a $1 trillion price tag. According to Carnevale, 70 percent of the jobs created by such spending would require only a high school diploma.

Even so, some of that money would almost certainly be used for job training at colleges, particularly two-year institutions. If the funding actually happens -- a big if at this point -- it's impact on higher education would dwarf the Obama administration’s $2 billion work force program that was aimed at community colleges.

A focus on high school training would also have a higher education component. That’s because of growing interest in dual and concurrent enrollment programs, which Republicans in particular tend to favor.

More than 10 percent of high school students are taking college courses, according to the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships. About one-third of dual enrollments are in career and technical education courses, the alliance said, with particular growth in rural schools and those where a majority of students are ethnic or racial minorities.

Likewise, apprenticeships are growing in popularity, with bipartisan support. And supporters say apprenticeships should expand beyond technical jobs.
"The election has opened up space to talk about high-quality alternatives to the four-year degree."
-- Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education and Skills with the education policy program at New America
A career and vocational focus earlier in the education pipeline is a form of “tracking,” which is more common in Europe. Tracking tends to freak out Americans, particularly when it is seen to diminish educational opportunity and if it is imposed on students, giving up on them too early.

Yet tracking, when done well, shares some common philosophies and goals with the degree “pathways” approach Gates is leading. The foundation is spending $5.2 million to help 30 community colleges in 17 states “design and implement structured academic and career pathways at scale, for all of their students.”

Free community college programs in some ways also bring together high schools and two-year colleges. Tennessee’s government, for example, says it is the “first state in the nation to have a fully funded K-14 public education.” Talking about K-14 is major shift, and one that mirrors what the Obama administration was trying to accomplish with its free community college proposal.

Other postsecondary alternatives that sit somewhere between high school and traditional college are expanding and enjoy bipartisan support. Those approaches include competency-based education programs, skills boot camps and employer certifications.

Some community colleges have begun offering competency-based credentials, through the federal government's $2 billion work force grant and in partnerships with Western Governors University. Several two-year-college leaders said competency-based programs would expand in the sector.
Some of these emerging players offer “bite-size, high-value” credentials, said Carnevale. “The labor market and costs are melting the system.”
"We need to expand the pathways. … We’re going to have a bigger tent, with different providers."
-- Jason Tyszko, executive director of the Center for Education and Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Another rare spot of agreement between Republicans and Democrats is that the accreditation process should be reformed, albeit in different ways.

The Obama administration and Senate Democrats have pushed accreditors to scrutinize student outcomes, including completion rates and employment outcomes.

Republicans seem less likely than Democrats to prod accreditors to set “bright lines” for graduation rates. And some conservatives say too much of a push on completion rates can lead to unintended consequences, including a weakening of academic standards. Faculty unions and many professors agree.
"We need educated people to fuel economic growth. … In a knowledge economy, a college education is the way to bridge the gap."
-- Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program
Yet members of both parties have sought to create alternative accreditation pathways for noncollege providers, including Senator Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, and Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican.

Lumina also has been active in exploring new forms of credentialing, with an eye toward completion and job training. If those efforts take hold, they could feature different approaches to quality control.

Deregulation, For-Profit Colleges and Open-Access Admissions

It’s been a rough five years for the for-profit sector, which has seen aggressive scrutiny, high-profile collapses, sliding enrollments and hemorrhaging revenue.

While experts disagree about the role of federal regulation in the sector’s decline, the U.S. Department of Education has been tougher with the industry in recent years, and contributed to the demise of Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institutes, among others.

The decline of for-profits has slowed the country's overall postsecondary attainment rates. That’s not a bad thing, according to the industry’s critics, who say for-profit-issued credentials too often lack value in the job market.

Congressional Republicans plan to roll back federal regulations aimed at for-profits, including gainful employment. The Trump administration likely would back that move.

Some community colleges are worried that a major recovery by for-profits would increase competition and cut into their enrollments. “There is a palpable sense of fear” on community college campuses about for-profits rising again, said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program.

Yet for-profits have sustained potentially lasting damage. Many players in the industry also face structural challenges, including a price point that is a tougher sell and a stigma around the term “for-profit.”

Gunderson said the shift in Washington is an “opportunity for us to reintroduce ourselves.”
But he said for-profits are unlikely to again seek to enroll large numbers of students who are unprepared for college and face low odds of completing.

“This sector is not going back to where it was in 2010 when it focused on open access,” said Gunderson. “We cannot ever endure the experience we have had over the last eight years.”

Direct link to article: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/12/08/experts-talk-about-college-completion-push-and-what-comes-next

University Herald: For-Profit Colleges Sees Bigger Revenue Under President Elect Donald Trump

Dec 06, 2016 10:22 AM EST

For-profit colleges are seeing a brighter future with the upcoming Donald Trump administration. Under the Obama administration, the business life, when it comes to these colleges, were almost going to collapse.

However, these for-profit colleges now are celebrating Donald Trump's win from the recent 2016 Presidential Election. These schools know that Trump understands business and this may be an advantage for their industry.

But what are for-profit colleges exactly? These are higher education institutions that are operated by private and profit-seeking companies or businesses. However, these colleges did not receive the support they needed during the last few decades because of negative criticisms. The colleges argued that there is efficiency in the profit model but they are being targeted for their sales techniques, high costs or fees and poor student outcomes.

One example of a for-profit college is Trump University. But regardless of this particular defeat in Donald Trump's portfolio, his transition team, cites Columbian, still welcomed these colleges with open arms.

According to reports, for-profit colleges are going to undergo a rebranding campaign to ensure its success. Although the president-elect himself has not yet revealed his educational plan for the country, supporters of these institutions are comfortable in knowing that Trump will champion the private sector.

A key advantage that for-profit colleges are looking at features new borrower defense rules that will help cover student loans if the school fails. And if embraced, these colleges can bring in new jobs, as well. While Steve Gunderson, the president of the Career Education Colleges and Universities ( the lobbying group), expressed that he is looking forward to see a change in the system, Trump's transition team has not officially commented on this matter just yet.

On record, President-elect Donald Trump has not spoken in length about the future of for-profit colleges. However, it is already clear that he is currently rolling up his sleeves after enlisting Betsy DeVos as his pick for education secretary.

Direct link to article: http://www.universityherald.com/articles/53551/20161206/for-profit-colleges-wealth-income-president-elect-donald-trump.htm

CECU Press Release: Shortage of Skills: Medical and Clinical Assistants

December 2, 2016 - Washington, DC - This month the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 7.4 million Americans are unemployed, while at the same time 5.5 million jobs remain unfilled in America. This crisis exists because employers demand "job-ready" employees and prospective employees are simply not able to bridge the skills gap without appropriate career education and training.  At the same time, the government reported a labor-force participation rate of 62.8% - meaning that 37.2% of the labor force is not engaged in meaningful work.  For many, they have dropped out of the workforce because they do not have the skills that are necessary to obtain meaningful employment. 

During the winter months Americans get flu shots in an effort to avoid flu season, with over 45% of American getting vaccinated each year. Many of these people were seen by clinical/medical assistants. Medical assistants coordinate administrative tasks and perform basic medical procedures and are essential to patient care in the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors and other healthcare practitioners.

What if there were not enough trained medical assistants to provide this important annual service to the American public? In 2015, our nation’s private sector colleges produced 74% of all graduates in the medical/clinical assistance program.  According to the Department of Labor, employment of medical assistants is projected to grow over 138,900 jobs from 2014 to 2024, a 23 percent increase that is much faster than the average of 7% growth for all occupations. The private sector alone is set to produce over 100,000 of these jobs over the next decade in this bustling industry.

“Medical assistants are one of the most versatile and key professionals in the healthcare industry. Whether it’s making the patient feel comfortable or overseeing vital information for physicians, developing careers in medical and clinical assistance is vital for an efficient and comprehensive healthcare system,” said Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of Career Education Colleges and Universities. “As healthcare in America continues to advance, these careers will be integral to our nation’s economy. Our sector’s programs will continue to prepare and train medical students to hit the ground running.”

With an aging and increasing population, a rise in the amount of treatments available, and advances in medical technology, there will be significant rise in the importance and necessity for healthcare professionals.

The medical assistant employment is heavily driven by demand from physicians’ offices, one of the fastest growing sectors in the industry and is forecasted to increase 27 percent through 2022. Outpatient care centers, where medical assistant employment is likely to increase by 57 percent, health practitioners’ offices, and medical laboratories are also venues that require work performed by medical assistants.

Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) had recently announced its Campaign to Create 5 Million Career Professionals, which will provide individuals with the career education and skills in healthcare and connect academic programs of postsecondary institutions to private sector health institutions.

About Shortage of Skills
Each month CECU will profile America’s “Shortage of Skills” (SOS) in one key industry. We will examine industries that are critical to America’s economic advancement and explain how a well-educated and well-trained workforce can address these issues.

About Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU)
Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) is a membership organization of accredited institutions of higher education that provide postsecondary education with a career focus. CECU’s work supports thousands of campuses that education millions of students. 

AP: The Big Story: For-profit colleges expect fortunes to improve under Trump

By COLLIN BINKLEY  Nov. 29, 2016 4:15 PM EST

BOSTON (AP) — After nearing collapse under the Obama administration, the for-profit college industry is celebrating Donald Trump's election as a chance for a rebound.
As stock prices for some of the nation's largest college chains have surged, industry lobbyists say they have received a warm welcome from Trump's transition team and already have launched a campaign to rebrand the embattled industry as a key to the new president's plan for economic growth.

While Trump has yet to detail his education plan, some in the for-profit sector see the president-elect as an ally who has championed the private sector and promised to roll back many of President Barack Obama's regulations.

Industry lobbyists hope those include federal "gainful employment" rules, which can cut funding to academic programs whose graduates struggle to pay off student debt, and new borrower defense rules that can force financially unstable schools to put up large sums of money to cover student loans if the school fails.

"Unfortunately, the focus in the last eight years has been fighting for survival from an ideological administration that was opposed to our very existence, and hopefully that is a fight we will no longer have to wage," said Steve Gunderson, president of the industry lobbying group Career Education Colleges and Universities and a former Republican congressman.

Gunderson said that early conversations with Trump's transition team showed promise for a smoother relationship with the White House.

"They absolutely see a place for postsecondary career education which is not exclusively constructed around just four-year liberal-arts programs," Gunderson said.

Trump's transition team did not respond to requests for comment.

The for-profit college industry has suffered steep enrollment losses since 2010. Many schools blame Obama, whose administration has cracked down on schools accused of fraud and added new regulations that officials say were meant to protect students from abuse.

In September, the ITT Technical Institute chain shut down after the federal government mostly barred it from enrolling new students as a sanction for academic troubles. A month later, the Apollo Education Group, owner of the University of Phoenix, told investors that it might not survive the policies of another Democratic president.

Trump, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, spoke little about for-profit colleges during his campaign. His pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is known for promoting charter schools and school vouchers but has less of a track record when it comes to higher education. DeVos did not respond to a request for comment.

Still, critics expect that Trump will loosen the reins on for-profit colleges, and some see parallels between those schools and the Republican's now-defunct Trump University. This month, Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle three fraud lawsuits filed against his Trump University real-estate seminars, although he didn't admit fault.

Ben Miller, senior director for postsecondary education at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, said it's revealing that the industry is celebrating someone accused of misconduct "that resembles the worst practices of that industry."

But Miller and other critics doubt the sector will see a major rebound because its image has already been tarnished.

To repair its reputation, Gunderson's group is rebranding the industry as a key to Trump's plan for economic growth. This month, the schools Gunderson represents promised to train 5 million skilled workers over the next decade, echoing Trump's promise to create 25 million jobs in that span.
"Our sector needs to reintroduce ourselves to the policymakers," Gunderson said.

Four-year for-profit colleges enrolled an estimated 1.1 million undergraduates in spring 2016, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a nonprofit research group.
The DeVry Education Group said in a statement that it will work with the administration and "offer suggestions and reforms." Shares in the parent company of DeVry University jumped 30 percent in the weeks after Trump's election, to their highest value in more than a year.
Other for-profit colleges declined to comment.

Students who attend for-profit colleges are typically older and poorer than their peers at four-year universities, and more often they're minorities, according to federal data. Industry backers say that's because for-profit schools offer accelerated programs with flexible schedules for working adults. Opponents say it's because they lure low-income students with aggressive tactics.

A study released by the Education Department this month found that graduates of public colleges earned an average of $9,000 a year more than their counterparts at for-profit colleges. Gunderson's group countered with another study projecting that the sector could produce 8.5 million professionals over the next decade.

Those offering recent support to the industry include former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a close adviser to Trump who is making a case to be the president-elect's strategic planner. At a recent event in Dallas for Gunderson's group, Gingrich urged the next administration to embrace for-profit schools in its education plan.

"They have an opportunity to try to create a movement, to create 8.5 million new jobs, which gets precisely at what Donald Trump has been campaigning on," Gingrich said in an interview.
Gingrich, who is personal friends with Gunderson, added that he believes some of Obama's major regulations targeting the industry will be scaled back.

"I expect them to be dramatically modified," Gingrich said. "They were impossible to administer and they simply set up rules designed to force schools into bankruptcy."

Direct link to article: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/e2ee39e8a0d045e4921c025ade9017dd/profit-colleges-expect-fortunes-improve-under-trump

Manhattan Institute Commentary: Public Colleges Aren't a Better Bet Than For-Profits


Forbes November 21, 2016
EducationHigher Ed
The Department of Education has released new data on the earnings of graduates from career college programs as part of the implementation of its “gainful employment” (GE) rule. The rule, which went into effect last year, requires colleges that receive federal funding to ensure their graduates have high earnings relative to the student debt they have accumulated. The rule applies to all for-profit colleges and to certificate programs at colleges in any sector, public or private.

In its press release, the Department of Education touts the $9,000 gap between the average earnings of graduates of public and for-profit career college programs with the assertion “public colleges pay off.” This data point will certainly be deployed to justify the Department’s uneven regulatory strategy, wherein for-profit colleges receive much tougher scrutiny than their peers in the private nonprofit and public sectors. But the earnings gap only tells part of the story.

The following graph, which focuses only on undergraduate certificate programs for simplicity’s sake, shows wide variation in graduate earnings within both the public and for-profit sectors.

The earnings gap doesn’t tell the whole story.

There are plenty of public schools which are worse than the average for-profit, and many for-profits which outperform the average public institution. Painting either sector with a broad brush is inappropriate.

More importantly, the earnings data only refer to graduates. (When I contacted the Department of Education, a spokesman told me that they were barred from releasing data on the earnings of dropouts.) Defenders of the Department’s regulatory strategy can only make a case that public colleges “pay off” for those who manage to graduate. For public colleges, graduates are a minority.

According to the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, only 45% of certificate-seeking students at public colleges had attained their credential three years later. However, this attainment rate was nearly 70% for comparable programs at for-profit colleges. That is a 25-point gap in favor of for-profits.

In short, these data points suggest that there is a tradeoff between public and for-profit colleges, rather than one or the other being objectively better. At a public college, you’ll collect higher earnings if you manage to graduate. At a for-profit, you’ll probably graduate, but you’ll also end up with lower earnings.

Specifically, it appears that for-profit schools have a lower bar for graduation than public schools, thus allowing more students with lower earnings potential across the finish line. Since the GE data only refer to completers, two certificate programs with identical instructional quality and student demographics could have different average earnings if one program has a higher standard for graduation. The higher-standard program will allow fewer students with low earnings potential across the finish line, which will push up the average earnings of the students who do manage to complete.

In addition, for-profit schools have a stronger incentive to admit more students who might have low earnings potential to begin with. Both public and for-profit schools are heavily subsidized. But in the case of for-profit schools, most of the subsidies generally follow the student through Pell Grants and subsidized student loans. Public schools receive those funds as well, but they also get a substantial share of revenue from direct government appropriations. To increase revenues, therefore, for-profits must go out and recruit more students. Public schools, meanwhile, will have more luck lobbying their state legislature for additional direct funds.

This is why for-profit colleges spend heavily on recruitment and advertising—more students mean more subsidies. It also explains why, according to the GE data release, the average for-profit undergraduate certificate program graduated 131 students, compared to just 30 students for comparable programs at public schools.

An odd set of incentives is at play here. Federal student aid encourages for-profit colleges to enroll as many students as possible. However, the gainful employment rule will also encourage them to graduate as few of those students as possible, letting only the highest potential earners over the finish line. (Remember, low graduate earnings put a school at risk of losing federal funding, per the gainful employment rule.) A college may want to stop a mediocre student from earning a certificate so his likely low earnings will not count against it in the GE data.

Regulators could blunt these perverse incentives by looking at graduate earnings in tandem with a school’s graduation rate. That way, colleges would have a harder time concealing their poor performance by relegating likely low earners to the pool of non-completers. But the Department of Education explicitly rejected any regulatory approach based on completions. Many public colleges, which the Department seeks to present as better alternatives to their for-profit counterparts, would fail any reasonable aid eligibility test based on graduation rate.

For-profit colleges must do better, especially given that they are the beneficiaries of billions in taxpayer money. But the idea that public colleges are superior is questionable to say the least. The outgoing Obama administration will doubtless point to the gainful employment data as a mandate to push more students into public colleges’ certificate programs, or even make the schools tuition-free. But we should really be concerned about the quality of the career college sector as a whole—public and for-profit schools alike.

This piece originally appeared on Forbes

Direct link to article: http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/public-colleges-arent-better-bet-profits-9544.html
Preston Cooper is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute's Economics21. Follow him on Twitter here.

CECU Press Release: Career Education Colleges and Universities Commits to Producing 5 Million Skilled Professionals

​November 18, 2016 - Dallas - Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) announced this morning the Campaign to Create 5 Million Career Professionals in the decade ahead. Using research that connects the academic programs of postsecondary institutions in our sector to related occupations, and calculating projections using state-specific data on occupational growth demands and replacement needs, the sector has outlined its role in America’s economic and social future. 
“The importance of this research is that, for the first time, we are connecting academic and occupational data from the government with local projections to provide policymakers and employers a clear outline of job skill demand in their community and state,” said Steve Gunderson, president of the association. “We have combined this data nationally in ways that emphasize the incredibly important role this sector provides in meeting our nation’s skill demands.”

Independent research conducted by Dr. Wallace Pond and Ian N. Creager developed the protocols leading to this important set of data. The analysis, based upon a sophisticated, program-level, 50-state “cross-walk” of the Department of Education’s IPEDS education data and Bureau of Labor Statistics labor projections, suggests career colleges could produce nearly 8.5 million professionals in critical fields over the next decade.

The research shows that over the next decade, private sector schools will produce:
•    90% of professional divers,
•    83% of cosmetologists,
•    78% of vocational nursing and nursing assistants,
•    64% of dental assistants and
•    55% of heating, ventilation and A/C (HVAC) engineering technicians.

In all, the research shows that in over 200 occupations, private sector schools produce between 25-100% of the academic credentials in a given occupation area.

The data also shows that in certain states, the work of these schools in meeting their state’s economic needs is essential. For example, these schools could produce 1.3 million professionals in California; just over 1 million in Arizona; 589,000 in Florida; 496,000 in Texas and over 400,000 in New York State.

Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX-32), honorary co-chair of the kick-off event, commended the study as key to building America’s economic future. “This research shows that we must take an active role in creating more opportunities in the marketplace and encouraging Americans to reenter the job market. I am pleased that Texas is leading the way on this initiative and stressing the importance of the role that higher education institutions play in creating an effective skilled workforce.”

Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28), fellow honorary co-chair, recognized the campaign’s pledge to a skilled workforce. “In today’s 21st century economy, it is important that postsecondary education includes a career focus and prepares our students to be a successful part of the workforce. I applaud the campaign’s commitment of nearly half a million credentials in Texas to meet the demand for skills-based jobs.”  

At a time of educational focus on outcomes, the study lifts up the important achievements of this sector of higher education. Wallace Pond, the director of the study said, “In all higher education career programs, the private sector institutions represent 11% of all students, but 14% of all graduates. It is this sector’s focus on retention and completion rates that shows such positive results.”

Dalphna Curtis, a career institution CEO in Dallas and leader with Women Voters Alliance and Black Vote Advisors, said, “Nearly one in four Texas students in our sector identify as black or African-American. Another 42% identify as Hispanic. Our communities of color need full access to all sectors of postsecondary education to meet labor force growth and replacement demands. This is not a sector conversation. This must become a national conversation. If we have any hope of rebuilding America’s middle class, this sector must play a role.”

Joining in the official announcement, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called upon the new administration and the Congress to use the campaign and supporting study as an opportunity to work together in creating higher education policy. “It’s time to stop the ideological crusade against private sector schools and work together to give all citizens an opportunity for skills, jobs and wages,” said Gingrich. “This study makes clear America cannot succeed without the role these career schools play in giving all citizens the skills needed for real work with real pay.”

CECU Press Release: CECU On Gainful Employment Data Release

November 17, 2016 - Washington, DC - The following statement can be attributed to Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of Career Education Colleges and Universities:
“The U.S. Department of Education has fulfilled what was our greatest concern around the gainful employment regulation – the use of faulty data that lacks context.

“It is absolutely absurd to compare totally different fields of study and suggest that programs traditionally taught in public institutions have higher incomes than programs taught in proprietary colleges.  This reflects the continuing ideological bias of this Department against our sector and is yet another example of why Americans are tired of out-of-touch bureaucrats in Washington.

“One of the fundamental lessons we have learned from reviewing gainful employment data is that where a person lives can have a significant impact on their earnings – you can have the exact same program in a high wage urban area in California and a low-wage rural area in the Midwest and have two totally different outcomes related to earnings.

“Without seeing the Departments underlying datasets it is impossible to fully answer any of these questions. But geography, age, race and gender are all factors here.” 

Inside Higher Ed: Gingrich Backs For-Profit Group's Campaign

November 17, 2016

By Paul Fain

Newt Gingrich and U.S. Representative Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, are slated to join Career Education Colleges and Universities at an event Friday. The group, which is the primary trade organization for the for-profit sector, is announcing a new campaign to close the skills gap with five million trained professionals. Gingrich, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a prominent adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, in August appeared in a web video with Steve Gunderson, the for-profit group's president and CEO.

Direct link to article: https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2016/11/17/gingrich-backs-profit-groups-campaign

CECU Press Release: CECU Statement on Release of Defense to Repayment Regulation

​28 October 2016 - Washington, DC - The below statement can be attributed to Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of CECU:

“The regulation published today by the U.S. Department of Education will cause millions of students to lose access to higher education and leave American taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars.

“The Department can continue to mislead taxpayers and Congress about the impact of this regulation, but the truth is this regulation puts the future of career education in America at risk. This regulation will limit career education opportunities for new traditional students and ultimately deny millions of Americans a pathway to improving their life and growing the American economy.

“This complex and burdensome regulation will crush career education with financial requirements not imposed on others in higher education – including institutions that have lower graduation rates and higher default rates.

“All of this is being enacted in the final days of the Administration – a last ditch ideological effort that will have a lasting impact on students, educators, and taxpayers. For eight years the Department could have worked cooperatively with the Congress and higher education stakeholders to advance meaningful reauthorization of Higher Education Act. Instead they opted to promulgate regulation after regulation limiting higher education access, opportunity, and outcomes for new traditional students.

“We are in the process of evaluating the regulation and determining its impact on students and institutions – once that is complete we will determine our appropriate action.”

CECU: Shortage of Skilled Veterinary Technicians in America

​October 7, 2016, Washington, DC – This month the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 7.9 million Americans are unemployed, while at the same time 5.9 million jobs remain unfilled in America. This crisis exists because employers demand "job-ready" employees and prospective employees are simply not able to bridge the skills gap without appropriate career education and training. 
One occupation that will be particularly affected by this skills gap is veterinary technicians. Employment of veterinary technologists and technicians is projected to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – significantly faster than the projected 7% average job growth for all occupations. Nearly 18,000 new veterinary technicians will be needed to fill these jobs.

Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture have expressed concern over the looming shortage: “Forty percent of our top-level leadership can retire now,” Jack Shere, Veterinary Services Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently said at the USDA Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Animal Health (SACAH) meeting in Washington, D.C. If this crisis is not addressed soon, it could have huge impacts on the American public.

Adequately training veterinary students will be crucial to ensuring new technicians are prepared to enter the field as baby boomers retire, otherwise a crippling shortage of skilled workers will exist. But across the country, veterinary technician programs are closing their doors. According to a recent article from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 30 private sector veterinary programs are in the process of shutting down. The article notes that the issues these schools are facing stem largely from a “challenging federal regulatory environment,” including the gainful employment regulation.

“Students in our sector’s Veterinary Technology programs learn the fundamentals such as diagnostic imaging, laboratory procedures, and veterinary office practices – in a practical hands-on manner. This classwork is paired with externship rotations that include various animal care environments to give students real-world experience,” said Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of CECU.

“The importance of veterinary programs cannot be overstated, nor can the threat of burdensome regulations on the future existence of these programs,” added Gunderson. “It is clear the demand exists for these graduates, but out-of-touch regulations threaten to eliminate programs training students for in demand careers.”

About Shortage of Skills 
Each month CECU will profile America's "Shortage of Skills" (SoS) in one key industry. We will examine industries that are critical to America's economic advancement and explain how a well-educated and well-trained workforce can address these issues.

Previous months have looked at:

Cyber Security
Accountants And Bookkeepers
Construction And Skilled Trades
Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning And Refrigeration
Beauty And Wellness
Information Technology
Automotive Repair
Health Care
Transportation, Distribution, And Logistics

About Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) 
Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) is a membership organization of accredited institutions of higher education that provide postsecondary education with a career focus. CECU's work supports thousands of campuses that educate millions of students.

CECU Press Release: CECU Statement on ACICS Termination

Washington, DC - September 22, 2016 - The below statement can be attributed to Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of CECU:

"The U.S. Department of Education's decision today will have horrible ramifications for hundreds of thousands of students, thousands of dedicated faculty and staff, and hundreds of communities and employers that rely on institutions accredited by ACICS.

"No Administration has politicized accreditation like the current one. To act in such a partisan and biased manner will do nothing to help new traditional students. Instead of working with stakeholders on all sides of the issue and creating a solution that preserves access, the Department once again takes the path of greatest destruction.  

"This is disappointing. The pain will not be felt by the political appointees and bureaucrats in Washington, DC, but ordinary Americans trying to improve their livelihood.

"There are already too many innocent students on the street as victims of this Department's war on the sector. We call on the Department to take the necessary steps to support schools and students in any transition."

The Washington Post: Shutting down for-profit schools could hurt more people than it would help

NEVER MIND that the higher education plans of tens of thousands of students will be disrupted. Or that 8,000 people will lose their jobs. Or that American taxpayers could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in forgiven student loans. What is apparently of most importance to the Obama administration is its ideological opposition to for-profit colleges and universities. That’s a harsh conclusion, but it is otherwise hard to explain why the Education Department has unabashedly used administrative muscle to destroy another company in the beleaguered industry.

ITT Technical Institutes, one of the nation’s largest for-profit educational chains, on Tuesday abruptly announced that after 50 years in business it was shutting down more than 100 campuses in 38 states. The announcement, displacing an estimated 40,000 students, follows last month’s decision by the Education Department barring the school from enrolling new students using federal student aid and upping its surety requirements. The department said it was acting to protect students and taxpayers, noting the school had been threatened with a loss of accreditation and that it was facing a number of ongoing investigations by both state and federal authorities.

What is so troubling about the department’s aggressive move — which experts presciently called a death sentence — is that not a single allegation of wrongdoing has been proven against the school. Maybe the government is right about ITT’s weaknesses, but its unilateral action without any semblance of due process is simply wrong. “Inappropriate and unconstitutional,” said ITT officials.

Such unfairness sadly is a hallmark of the Obama administration policy toward higher education’s for-profit sector. It has singled out the industry for stringent employment and student loan rules and stepped up enforcement with stiff sanctions that, as The Post’s Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reported, have some companies on the brink of ruin.

There is no question that there are shady for-profit colleges and universities that take advantage of students by saddling them with debt and failing to give them marketable skills. They should not be in business. But then the same can be said for some public and private schools, whose wretched weaknesses the government seems glad to overlook.

There should be a level playing field that recognizes the place — and value — of for-profit colleges and universities. Not only do they serve the vocational and educational needs of nontraditional students (older, poorer or minorities) that nonprofit institutions are unable or unwilling to serve, but also they have been a source of innovation in higher education. The government should be looking for ways to strengthen the industry, rather than trying to destroy it.
Direct link to article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/shutting-down-for-profit-schools-could-hurt-more-people-than-it-would-help/2016/09/10/3f6cb5ba-76b2-11e6-b786-19d0cb1ed06c_story.html?utm_term=.09f9af950180

New Release: ITT Educational Services, Inc. to Cease Operations at all ITT Technical Institutes Following Federal Actions

Sep 6, 2016

CARMEL, Ind., Sept. 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, ITT Educational Services, Inc. released the following statement:

"It is with profound regret that we must report that ITT Educational Services, Inc. will discontinue academic operations at all of its ITT Technical Institutes permanently after approximately 50 years of continuous service. With what we believe is a complete disregard by the U.S. Department of Education for due process to the company, hundreds of thousands of current students and alumni and more than 8,000 employees will be negatively affected.

The actions of and sanctions from the U.S. Department of Education have forced us to cease operations of the ITT Technical Institutes, and we will not be offering our September quarter. We reached this decision only after having exhausted the exploration of alternatives, including transfer of the schools to a non-profit or public institution.

Effective today, the company has eliminated the positions of the overwhelming majority of our more than 8,000 employees. Our focus and priority with our remaining staff is on helping the tens of thousands of unexpectedly displaced students with their records and future educational options.

This action of our federal regulator to increase our surety requirement to 40 percent of our Title IV federal funding and place our schools under "Heightened Cash Monitoring Level 2," forced us to conclude that we can no longer continue to operate our ITT Tech campuses and provide our students with the quality education they expect and deserve. 

For more than half a century, ITT Tech has helped hundreds of thousands of non-traditional and underserved students improve their lives through career-focused technical education. Thousands of employers have relied on our institutions for skilled workers in high-demand fields. We have been a mainstay in more than 130 communities that we served nationwide, as well as an engine of economic activity and a positive innovator in the higher-education sector.

This federal action will also disrupt the lives of thousands of hardworking ITT Tech employees and their families. More than 8,000 ITT Tech employees are now without a job – employees who exhibited the utmost dedication in serving our students. 

We have always carefully managed expenses to align with our enrollments. We had no intention prior to the receipt of the most recent sanctions of closing down despite the challenging regulatory environment that now threatens all proprietary higher education. We have also always worked tirelessly to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, and to uphold our ethic of continuous improvement. When we have received inquiries from regulators, we have always been responsive and cooperative. Despite our ongoing service to this nation's employers, local communities and underserved students, these federal actions will result in the closure of the ITT Technical Institutes without any opportunity to pursue our right to due process.

These unwarranted actions, taken without proving a single allegation, are a "lawless execution," as noted by a recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal. We were not provided with a hearing or an appeal. Alternatives that we strongly believe would have better served students, employees, and taxpayers were rejected. The damage done to our students and employees, as well as to our shareholders and the American taxpayers, is irrevocable.

We believe the government's action was inappropriate and unconstitutional, however, with the ITT Technical Institutes ceasing operations, it will now likely rest on other parties to understand these reprehensible actions and to take action to attempt to prevent this from happening again."

SOURCE ITT Educational Services, Inc.

For further information: Nicole Elam, ITT Educational Services, Inc., 13000 N. Meridian St., Carmel, Ind. 46032, 317-706-9200