Will Career Schools Lose Federal Student Aid?


The U.S. Department of Education has career schools in their crosshairs and is considering adopting regulations that would cut off student aid and grants for some non-profit schools. That proposal has upset key African-American leaders who believe that minority students would be disproportionately affected by such action.

Equal Opportunity

“There are widespread concerns that this regulation will have a devastating impact in African-American communities, where black unemployment is nearly twice as high as whites,” said Milton Anderson, President of Virginia College’s branch in Jackson, Mississippi. “Schools, such as Virginia College, do an outstanding job teaching skills that are needed for promotions and new jobs.  The government should not close the door to opportunities for people willing to learn additional skills and training that will help them better provide for themselves and their families.”

Anderson noted that 43 percent of the students at career schools are minorities, representing 1.2 million students. He is a spokesman for the Coalition for Education Success, an organization representing proprietary or career colleges and students at over 300 campuses in 33 states.

Gainful Employment

According to the coalition, the ironically named “Gainful Employment” rule would make entire programs ineligible for federal loans and grants if they fail to meet a broad new standard that has little to do with academic quality. That proposal would require all programs offered at career colleges and trade schools to meet a specific definition in order to qualify for federal student financial aid. It would base eligibility on the ratio of student debt to potential student income following graduation. It does not take into account that most students benefit from the long-term benefits of their careers and not just the immediate increase in income.

Among the community leaders opposing the Department of Education’s initiative include Rainbow PUSH Coalition Founder/CEO Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Harry Alford, President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce; Randal Pinkett, Chairman and CEO of BCT Partners; and Willie Gary, one the nation’s leading trial lawyers. To date, 12 of the 39 voting members of the Congressional Black Caucus have also expressed their concern.

Stumbling Block

Jackson expressed his misgivings in a September 15 letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, noting that the DOE’s approach will present a higher education hindrance for minority students, effectively making it more difficult to attain President Barack H. Obama’s goal of leading the world in the percentage of college graduates by 2020.

“I am concerned that the proposed rule casts too broad and too general a brush on many institutions, some of whom are doing an excellent job at serving economically disadvantaged and minority students,” Rev. Jackson wrote. “For many of these historically underserved students, educational options must be more accessible than those that typically are offered by traditional higher education institutions if they are to be meaningful.”

Source: Coalition for Educational Success

See AlsoThe Yorktown Patriot: Arne Duncan’s Entitlement of a “Public” Education

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