SASC Responds to Attacks Against Private Sector Schools

Sep 22, 2011, 10:35 ET from Student Access Student Choice Coalition

Vocational Institutions Educate, Train & Prepare America's Men & Women In Uniform For 21st Century Jobs

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Student Access, Student Choice (SASC) coalition today released the following response from Robert L. Peterson, president of Student Veterans of America #227 at Sullivan University in support of private sector colleges and colleges:

"As many of you may recall, eight months ago, Sen. Tom Harkin began his efforts to crack down and restrain private sector colleges and universities in what he felt was in the best interest of our nations returning veterans and casting negative aspersions on this specific segment of higher education.

"Since then, it is not surprising how unpopular Congress has become; as they continue to complicate an already ravaged economy with more bureaucratic hearings that have little chance of promoting job growth, as opposed to focusing their efforts on attaining and achieving meaningful results.

"To illustrate this point, on Thursday, September 22, 2011, a Senate subcommittee hearing titled 'Improving Educational Outcomes for Military and Veterans' is scheduled and it has the potential to bring about the unfortunate effect of setting into motion more burdensome regulations on private sector colleges and universities, and a sector of higher education that is relied upon by active-duty military and veteran's, as they pursue their educational interest.

"Just a few months ago, the Obama Administration and some Members of Congress heeded the calls of Wall Street short-sellers seeking to profit from the cumbersome regulations placed on private sector schools.  The resulting regulations, innocuously named 'gainful employment,' could shut thousands of potential students out of career-oriented, post-secondary programs due to a lack of financial aid.

"Unfortunately, however, it appears that the Senate is going to waste yet more precious time over-reaching into the affairs of colleges that could have an enormous and positive impact on military veterans and active military personnel.

"The issue of concern this week is the '90/10' rule that forces these schools to rely on least 10 percent funding from private entities.  If a school receives more than 90 percent of its funding from Federal sources, programs would essentially be forced to close.

"As the law currently stands, military aid does not count toward this public-private funding threshold.  But if Congress or the Obama Administration succeeds in making their desired changes, military personnel and veterans would likely lose access to many of the programs of their choice at these vocations institutions.

"The fact is, veterans disproportionately benefit from private sector colleges and universities because these they provide more flexibility for those seeking to balance family, work and school commitments.  For this reason, the no-frills, career-focused training provided at vocational schools is ideal for veterans.

"Private sector schools, like my alma mater Sullivan University based in Louisville, Kentucky, have been proactively engaged in designing programs that are personalized for veterans and military students.

"According to a Sloan Consortium report on online education, these schools are more than twice as likely as public institutions and over three times as likely as private non-profit institutions to have online course programs designed specifically for military students.

"Brigadier General John Castellaw put it best when he wrote in The Washington Times, private sector colleges and universities 'are particularly valuable for veterans.  Unlike traditional college freshmen, veterans often return home to busy schedules dominated by work and family.  They require the flexible course schedules and online classes that are the hallmarks' of these schools.  He went on, '[a]s shown by my example, the needs of veterans often cannot be met by traditional nonprofit schools.'

"Critics of private sector schools have conveniently ignored the fact that veterans have earned and are entitled to use their benefits at any institution of their choice.

"At a time of record unemployment, as high as ­25% among the nations veteran population, a national homeless rate of 28% and two wars overseas, rationale would dictate that the Federal government should not be focused on creating more red tape for active military personnel and veterans seeking to gain the requisite college training to enter and succeed in America's civilian workforce. 

"I would suggest that Congress leave the '90/10' rule alone.  Better yet, do away with it altogether and start focusing on creating jobs instead of coming up with rules that force more job loss."

SOURCE Student Access Student Choice Coalition