Career-college head warns: Proposed rules could hobble healthcare sector

Posted: August 20, 2010 in News
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By Mike Lillis – 08/12/10 09:00 AM ET

As Congress and the White House eye ways to rein in the exploding for-profit education business, some industry leaders are warning policymakers: Don’t overstep.

Recently proposed Department of Education (DOE) rules could hobble for-profit medical colleges at a time when those schools are feeding more and more of the nation’s ever-rising demand for health professionals, cautioned Randy Proto, CEO of the American Institute, a New York-based company that runs schools in Florida, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The rules would slow the growth of career colleges, Proto said in a recent phone interview, and “thwart our ability to meet that need.”

Broadly, Proto wondered why the administration has singled out for-profit schools, while largely excluding traditional nonprofit institutions. That discrepancy, he warned, puts the for-profits at a distinct disadvantage — something that could harm the lower-income students who tend to enroll disproportionately in career schools.

The administration “is trying to define thresholds for certain types of programs and not others,” he said. “The rules are being applied unequally.”

The comments are timely. Career colleges have been under fire after a series of reports suggested that aggressive recruiting, shady marketing practices — even fraud — are common within the industry.

Just last week, for instance, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report that outlined cases where for-profit recruiters obscured the true costs to attend institutions; exaggerated post-graduation salaries and employability in the fields students were entering; and encouraged applicants to lie on submission forms to tap federal loans for which they weren’t eligible.

Read the rest of the story here.

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