For Immediate Release
- Carrie Wofford, President, and Ramond Curtis, State Policy Manager, Veterans Education Success (202) 838-5050
- Alex Edwards, Director of Communications, The Century Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org, (810) 986-0880
May 29, 2020
Veterans Education Success and The Century Foundation Release Toolkit for State Policymakers to Better Protect Veterans & Military-Connected Students in Higher Education
Provides state leaders with policies and solutions to reign in for-profit predatory schools.
Washington, D.C. – Veterans Education Success and The Century Foundation released a new toolkit for state policymakers titled, 2020 Toolkit for State Policymakers: What States Can Do to Protect Students from Predatory For-Profit Colleges. The toolkit provides a blueprint for navigating a tumultuous time in higher education as the economic downturn, combined with the coronavirus pandemic, will lead to more school closures and an increase in predatory recruiting practices by for-profit schools.
America’s colleges and students face enormous challenges at this time, including a decrease in tuition revenue and other funding and possible closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. But, as the 2020 Toolkit illustrates, college closures don’t have to leave students out in the cold.
The 2020 Toolkit for State Policymakers offers practical, common-sense steps that state leaders can undertake now to help prevent abrupt college closures including instituting early warning signs. Between 2014 and 2019, several large for-profit college chains closed precipitously, including Corinthian, ITT Tech, Argosy University, and The Art Institutes. Many of these closures were preceded by abundant early warning signs that the schools posed a risk to GI Bill beneficiaries and taxpayers. These early warning signs are readily available from state and federal government agencies and the 2020 Toolkit offers solutions for implementing early warning signs at the state level.
In addition to early warning signs, there are a series of protections state leaders can put in place now to require an orderly closure process, so students don’t have to show up to find the doors locked and their transcripts inaccessible, as happened at Corinthian and ITT Tech. We outline the specific steps in our new 2020 Toolkit.
Fraud is another problem facing students and it is likely to increase during the coming economic recession, and the 2020 Toolkit outlines novel ways states can better protect veterans from fraud. As bipartisan lawmakers in Maryland and Oregon have demonstrated, the need to protect veterans is urgent and states have the power to act.
Large for-profit college chains are already laying the groundwork to ramp up advertising and repeat some of the same aggressive, deceptive marketing tactics used during the Great Recession to enroll as many unwitting students as possible, in return for no degree, no transferable credits, and a lot of debt.
Students at for-profit schools, especially veterans and military-connected students, are more likely to be defrauded than their peers attending public and nonprofit colleges. Low-income students, single mothers, students who identify as Black or Hispanic, and military veterans are overrepresented at for-profit colleges, and as a result are disproportionately taking on more debt for certificates and degrees of questionable value. This gap in access and equity presents an opportunity for state leaders to better protect underrepresented students and advocate for higher-quality outcomes.
“Now more than ever underrepresented students, like student veterans, are at risk of falling prey to predatory schools. This toolkit builds upon the important lessons we’ve learned in leading the fight at the state level for more than a year for veterans defrauded by predatory for-profit schools,” said Ramond Curtis, State Policy Manager at Veterans Education Success.“We’ve created a toolkit that state leaders can easily employ to protect the most vulnerable students in higher education.”
State policy leaders have an opportunity to take a leadership role in protecting students, and especially student veterans, from being targeted by predatory colleges as the federal government has historically been complacent in holding bad actors accountable and protecting students’ basic rights.
“While making claims of opening up access to higher education, for-profit colleges often leave students with unmanageable debt and a worthless credential. Many of these schools are likely to respond to the current economic crisis by aggressively recruiting students they have no intention of serving well,” said Stephanie Hall, fellow at The Century Foundation. “Faced with a lack of federal protections, several states have made strides to protect students from predatory, for-profit colleges in recent years. This toolkit provides a blueprint for any state to follow suit by laying out multiple policy proposals and avenues for protecting both students and taxpayers.”
The 2020 Toolkit for State Policymakers: What States Can Do to Protect Students from Predatory For-Profit Colleges provides a historical case for why state leaders should better regulate for-profit schools and proposes seven policies that states can implement to ensure their students are not defrauded. In addition to state legislation, the toolkit identifies non-legislative solutions to address the problems plaguing the for-profit college sector. Proposed solutions include developing an early warning system, closing the “90/10 loophole,” requiring schools to spend a minimum percent of tuition on instruction, and more.
Endorsed by both Republican and Democratic state leaders across the country, the 2020 Toolkit offers practical tips to help state leaders tackle the coming crisis for colleges and students. Here’s what state leaders have said about the toolkit:
“These are great ideas. I recommend all state elected officials take a look at this and implement them. Very important concepts and strategies!” – Ric Metzgar, Maryland State Delegate (R)
“It is now more important than ever that states take action to protect students from unscrupulous colleges. I know the ideas discussed in this toolkit will lead to increased success among college students in Maine.” – Scott Cyrway, Maine State Senator (R)
“These are some great ideas that will protect all students from predatory financial practices, especially those who have served our country. I recommend that all state policy leaders take a look.” – Rep. Barbara Smith Warner, Oregon House Majority Leader
“Veterans are most vulnerable to fraud when they’re looking at post-service education. States should use these ideas to protect those who protected us.” – Marty Wilde, Oregon State Representative (D)
“This groundbreaking set of simple policy recommendations presents leaders all across the country the opportunity to ensure their students, and in particular, their student veterans, are not defrauded by unscrupulous actors operating within higher education and training. We applaud Veterans Education Success for releasing this tremendously helpful resource.” – Jim McDonough, Director of the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services.
“In Maryland, we’ve been taking on unscrupulous for-profit schools, fighting for students’ rights, supporting the passage of new student protection laws, and opposing federal efforts to strip away protections against fraud and abuse. We applaud The Century Foundation and Veterans Education Success for producing a sensible and straightforward guide for empowering states to protect students, especially veterans, service members, and military families.” – Brian Frosh, Maryland Attorney General
“As State Approving Agencies undertake more risk-based reviews, the early warning signs in this Toolkit will be quite helpful.” – Joe Wescott, former National Legislative Director, National Association of State Approving Agencies
About Veterans Education Success
Veterans Education Success is a veteran advocacy organization whose mission is to advance higher education success for veterans, service members, and military families, and to protect the integrity and promise of the GI Bill and other federal education programs. The organization offers free legal services, advice, and college and career counseling to service members, veterans, their survivors, and families using federal education benefits – and helps them participate in their democracy by engaging with policymakers. Veterans Education Success also provides policy expertise to federal and state policymakers and conducts non-partisan research on issues of concern to student veterans, including student outcomes and debt levels. Additional information is available at www.vetsedsuccess.org.
About The Century Foundation
The Century Foundation (TCF) is a progressive, nonpartisan think tank that seeks to foster opportunity, reduce inequality, and promote security at home and abroad. For over 100 years, TCF experts have sweat the details of policy in order to advance progressive change. TCF is based in New York, with an office in Washington, D.C. Follow the organization on Twitter at @TCFdotorg and learn more at www.tcf.org.