Frankfort, KY: Answering students’ complaints and adhering to Kentucky State Auditor’s recommendations, House Licensing and Occupations Chair Dennis Keene, (D-Wilder) and House Education Chair Carl Rollins, (D- Midway), have filed a bill to strengthen oversight of Kentucky’s proprietary or for-profit colleges.
Last year, State Auditor Crit Luallen conducted an extensive audit of State Board for Proprietary Education. Complaints about high tuition, lack of job assistance and education, and a gross lack of financial accountability prompted the audit.
The audit concluded that the current board that regulates the state’s 122 for-profit colleges provided inadequate oversight, had not conducted an outside financial audit in 10 years and lacked a clear understanding of its role.
House Bill 308 would abolish the current State Board for Proprietary Education (BPE) and establish the Kentucky Commission on Proprietary Education, an independent agency of the Commonwealth attached to the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet for administrative purposes.
The legislation limits appointed members’ to serving two consecutive terms and establishes an 11-member commission that reduces the number of proprietary school representatives from six to four, so that they don’t comprise a majority of the commission’s membership.
An executive director with a background in commerce, business, or education would be hired whose duties would include directing new policies for fiscal record retention, keeping appropriate records of complaints and minutes of meetings, and ensuring the proper handling of student complaints and that an annual fiscal review is conducted.
The new legislation would also require schools to contribute to a student protection fund which would maintain a balance of $500,000. The new commission would impose fees on schools to restore the balance to $500,000 if the balance drops below the required minimum amount.
It would establish requirements for licensed schools to notify the commission and remit student documentation prior to closing; require licensed institutions to make students aware of the student protection fund and the process for filing a claim.
“Most important is protecting students from unscrupulous practices and I believe that this new commission will go a long way in meeting that primary goal,” said Rep. Keene.
“Oversight and accountability are key to students’ success and they have a right to expect those things when paying for a college education,” said Rep. Rollins.
“Pursuing higher education is the only way Kentuckians can be assured of higher earning potential and a better quality of life and this legislation will ensure that mission is met,” said Rep. Keene.