August 26, 2015— AB 573, authored by Assembly member Jose Medina, would help students affected by the closure of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges with some economic relief and educational opportunities*. : Specifically, the bill would:
- Waive community college fees for students harmed by the Corinthian closure, and provide funding for community college counselors to assist students who want to transfer and enroll in other programs.
- Provide legal assistance to help students, including specialized legal assistance for veterans, with the loan forgiveness process.
- Provide tuition recovery to Heald and California online students, including veterans.
- Restore the year(s) of Cal Grant eligibility for Heald students.
- Establish a single point of contact to respond to the closure of institutions within the Attorney General’s office, in cooperation with the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, to ensure that students are provided with accurate and consistent information from the agencies involved in the school closure process.
Public Advocates has been working hard to support AB 573, and to advocate on behalf of the students affected by the Corinthian closure and all students at for-profit institutions. We are engaging with policymakers, educators, and civil rights, consumers, and education advocates to make sure that our state system supports and rewards schools that provide quality academic programs, operate with integrity and transparency, protect students – and precious state dollars – from those that do not.
Public Advocates supports SB 410 because it will make the good disclosure requirements required of for-profit institutions under current California law more meaningful and accurate. Public Advocates supported AB 2296 (Block) in 2012, which dramatically improved disclosures to students considering enrollment at for-profit institutions. AB 2296 sought to correct inaccurate job placement disclosures, fix misleading salary disclosures, and provide students with the loan default rate information the state uses to assess schools. In most respects AB 2296 was successful, however, a second definition of “graduate” was added to the Act through Education Code Section 94874, which unfortunately lacked clarity and allows for potential data manipulation.
The added definition in Section 94874 defines “graduates” as those who graduate within 100% of the originally scheduled completion date of their program. While this is useful information, it does not give a full and complete picture of the success of for-profit and other private institutions. Because it includes only those graduates who completed their programs within 100% of the scheduled time period, it excludes data of students who took more time to complete their programs from the reporting data. Application of this definition as it is currently written results in misleading job placement rates, salary, and licensing data, as well as less accurate and confusing information for students.
SB 410 corrects this by updating the Code to use the term “on-time graduates” to determine how many students graduated on time during a given reporting year, and “graduates” to report job placement, salaries, and licensing rates for all graduates during the given reporting year. This bill would clarify a problematic section of the Education Code, and would allow the hard-won protections of AB 2296 to be fully enacted.
BPPE Regulations on Disclosures to Prospective Students, School Performance Fact Sheets, and Annual Reports
July 21, 2015 – Public Advocates and our partners offered comments at a hearing held by the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education on their proposed regulations on Disclosures to Prospective Students, School Performance Fact Sheets, and Annual Reports, as required by AB 2296 (2012). These gainful employment regulations –which show how well institutions deliver on their promises to students to help place them in jobs once they complete their studies– are critical because job placement rates are one of the most important pieces of information that students rely on in deciding whether to enroll at an institution, and these numbers will not be reliable until there are established and uniform methods for calculating them.
These regulations are long overdue, and Public Advocates believes that the regulations need to be stronger and take more steps to improve disclosures for students considering proprietary education institutions. We submitted written comments with several of our community partners, and are monitoring the process to ensure that the Bureau takes notice of our comments, and acts with the best interests of students in mind.
*Bo Kovitz, Student Aid: Corinthian College Bill Moves Forward, The Press Enterprise (July 12, 2015), available at here