Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper Staff –
The U.S. Department of Education plans to enact new rules targeting the financial aid eligibility of programs at for-profit career institutions; regulations, which they said, are part of an “effort to protect students from aggressive or misleading recruiting practices.”
However, some Black business and political leaders, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, famed trial attorney Willie Gary, Randal Pinkett, chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, Harry Alford, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the regulations are unfair.
Under the department’s planned “Gainful Employment” regulations, institutions of higher education and post-secondary vocational schools would have to disclose graduation and job placement rates, along with debt levels and incomes of their graduates to prospective students and the department.
Additionally, institutions would also have to provide a five-year projection of enrollment, documentation from employers stating that the institution’s programs meet their business needs, projected job vacancies, and job requirements before the program can become eligible to participate in federal student aid.
Milton Anderson, president of Virginia College’s branch in Jackson, Miss. and a spokesman for the Coalition for Education Success, which opposes the proposed regulations, said that 1.2 million students enrolled at career schools are minorities.
"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," wrote Jackson, in a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Sept. 15.
Gary voiced his concerns in a newspaper op-ed. “The proposed regulations are aimed at institutions whose graduates don't often become CEOs, doctors and lawyers. Career schools produce nurses, auto mechanics, computer technicians and other skilled workers, whose services are often overlooked and devalued in our society."
In response to the objections and concerns raised, the department said in a statement that it would delay publication of the new rules to take “additional time to consider the comments we received and to host several meetings and public hearings in the coming weeks.” The new regulations were scheduled to go into effect on Nov. 1.
"Let me be clear: we're moving forward on gainful employment regulations,” Duncan said in a statement. “While a majority of career colleges play a vital role in training our workforce to be globally competitive, some bad actors are saddling students with debt they cannot afford in exchange for degrees and certificates they cannot use."
The department expects the regulations to now take effect in the summer of 2012.