The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) today released informational data from more than a thousand U.S. colleges and institutions of higher education related to its “gainful employment” rule focusing on students’ ability to secure employment following graduation and manage debt.

The information focused on more than 28,000 programs offered at colleges across the nation and included data provided to the federal government by members of New York’s Association of Proprietary Colleges (APC), a coalition of New York State’s 27 degree-granting colleges.

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“New York’s APC is committed to being part of the solution, and will continue to take steps to provide students with access to information, counseling and data to make sound financial decisions that result in obligations they will carry long after they have completed their degree.

However, it is important to note that the escalation of student debt is today a national concern, having commanded headlines, and been front-and-center during family discussions irrespective of income and neighborhood.  This concern is heightened by a tight job market.

And while student debt is acknowledged as a national problem, the focus of the federal review on the proprietary sector is narrow – affecting a mere 11 percent of students nationally.

The DOE’s metric is complicated and costly; and its methodology flawed and punitive, holding colleges accountable for the financial decisions made independently by students. The DOE’s approach threatens the existence of mainstream programs such as business administration and criminal Justice, as well as top-tier programs in fine arts and those touching high-demand career paths such as health care and culinary arts, among others.

In New York State, the proprietary sector of higher education is carefully regulated by the Board of Regents to ensure academic integrity that places it on par with the other higher educational sectors and provides consumer protections and confidence worthy of a sound investment.

This is a record we are proud of, but it is also true that for many students, college costs are for the foreseeable future, a major financial burden – one that will likely be part of a portfolio of recurring expenses such as housing, groceries, health insurance and childcare.

There are a number of steps that all sectors of higher education can pursue to make these costs more manageable.  APC member colleges are committed to:

  • Counseling students about assessing their individual circumstances, and the merits of financial literacy;
  • Working to secure grants and aid that will help limit academic-related expenses;
  • Offering access to courses that ensure timely completion of degree requirements; and
  • Providing data about average starting salaries of various occupations, and employment forecasts.

The DOE is trying to remedy a complex economic problem, associated with student debt, and New York’s proprietary sector remains committed to assisting in the effort.  However, the DOE’s current methodology and approach singularly target many colleges that excel in preparing a well-educated, focused workforce for the jobs of the future.”