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Editorial by Rep. Dennis Keene on for-profit schools

Editorial by Rep. Dennis Keene on for-profit schools

Legislative committee poses questions on for-profit schools

By Rep. Dennis Keene – Recently I co-chaired the Interim Committee on Licensing and Occupations where the issue of for-profit colleges was discussed.

Non-profit or proprietary schools offer a variety of certificates, diplomas and degrees to students, many of whom rely upon state and federal loans and grants to pay for their education.

As watchdogs of taxpayer’s money, it is incumbent upon legislators to keep a tight rein on public dollars, particularly in these difficult economic times.

There have been complaints about for-profit schools in Kentucky regarding student loan default rates, transferability of credits, recruitment practices, questionable handling of financial aid and job placement promises.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway testified at the meeting that he is reviewing more than 200 complaints from Kentucky students who have reported problems with for-profit colleges.

Of particular concern is the difficulty students have encountered when attempting to pay back the significant cost of the loans when the promises of a good-paying job do not materialize.

Because federal student loan debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, students who are unable to complete their degree or find employment in their field suffer a tremendous financial burden in repaying these debts.

We also heard testimony at the meeting from for-profit college representatives who contend that they provide a much-needed option for students who do not follow the traditional college path.

They said their schools offer better weekend and evening class options, accelerated programs and degree completions that fill a void created by growing demands in the medical, pharmaceutical, culinary, restaurant, business and accounting industries.

Education is key to personal growth, financial security and quality of life for Kentuckians and having a variety of options to pursue higher education goals is important.

I expect that there will be more discussion about for-profit schools throughout the interim and in the upcoming 2012 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.  I promise to keep you updated on this topic in the weeks and months ahead.

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