One of the great untruths often spread by those critical of for-profit sector is the assumption that all proprietary colleges put their own financial interests above all else. And while such skewed misperceptions do not track with the work done every day on APC member college campuses that clearly demonstrate otherwise, let’s put that conversation aside for now and talk instead about the financial interests of students, particularly with respect to GE.
The topic of students’ financial interests is certainly fair game in any debate about GE as they are the ones dependent upon federal financial aid funds to pursue their academic ambitions. Yet it is the one angle on the controversial regulation that is very much underreported, perhaps because, in many cases, this flawed regulation does not serve their financial interests at all. After all, at the end of the proverbial day, GE is about whether or not students can obtain federal financial aid to pursue their educational goals. Such tuition assistance is the lifeblood of many students’ college ambitions. Without it, there is no hope for continued college enrollment.
As we’ve outlined numerous times since first launching this blog, the regulation proposed is arbitrary and capricious. Many programs will fail the Rule, not because they produce poor outcomes but rather because they didn’t pass the untested, flawed, irrelevant metrics it relies on to assess a program’s value. And their students, many of whom are minorities or economically disadvantaged, will be the ones to pay the highest price for it. Ominously, one study concluded that “between 2 and 7.5 million students will be denied access” to postsecondary education over the next 10 years should the GE Rule take effect.
Many students simply do not have the financial means to continue their education without federal tuition assistance. It is disheartening that some seem to think that the educational aspirations (and long-term employment prospects) of impacted students are acceptable collateral damage in the Department’s biased, political war against proprietary institutions. Yes, those students could go to another institution — but they should have the freedom to go to the one they want, particularly as some of the ones that would remain eligible for federal funds in a post-GE landscape, including community colleges, produce abysmal graduation and job placement outcomes for their students. They deserve better than that.
That’s why we take our role as advocates for the students who attend APC member colleges very seriously. This week we have the great pleasure to host a representative number of them from across the state during our annual Lobby Day in Albany, helping students meet with their representatives in state office on matters of concern to the higher education community in New York. And while the focus this year will be on encouraging lawmakers to restore the maximum Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) award for students attending colleges that offer only two-year degree programs, you can be sure we will welcome the opportunity to continue our efforts to educate them on the truth about GE as well.