New Report: Improving Student Protections in For-Profit Schools

Originally published by Nebraska Appleseed

By Jeff Sheldon
January 23, 2017

Given the recent closures of several for-profit schools nationwide, now is the time to make sure Nebraska’s postsecondary students are protected in the event that there are more closures in the future.

A new report released today by Nebraska Appleseed illustrates how students at some of these for-profit institutions – such as ITT Technical Institute, which abruptly shut down in 2016 – may be at risk if schools close. These students can face financial losses and the inability to transfer their hard-earned credits to another degree program.

The report contains recommendations to improve and update protections for Nebraska students as they pursue higher education and training through these for-profit institutions, which are governed differently than other state colleges and universities.

Read the full report – “For Profit Schools in Nebraska: Recommendations to Improve Student Protection”

“We know that higher education is essential to finding a good job in today’s economy, and it will only increase in importance in the future,” said Nebraska Appleseed staff attorney Ken Smith, the report’s author. “Many students seek to further their education at for-profit colleges, but when those schools unexpectedly close, as we’ve seen recently, students are often unable to recover lost tuition and have a hard time transferring credits to continue their education elsewhere.”

Students at Nebraska’s for-profit institutions aren’t offered the same protections as given to students at similar schools in Nebraska. For example, some students in Nebraska can access a tuition reimbursement fund to help recover some of their tuition if an institution closes, while others cannot. This all depends on the type of degree being offered by the school.

The report recommends several ways Nebraska can improve student protections:

  • Pass LB 123, a bill introduced in the Legislature that contains a package of student protections including a tuition reimbursement fund and a system that allows students to retrieve their credits from the closed institution.
  • Make responsibility to regulate postsecondary institution more uniform.
  • Examine for-profit institutions’ job placement rates to the state of Nebraska to better assess whether they are providing relevant job skills training to students.

“Nebraska students deserve a high-quality education that prepares them for  jobs that pay a family-supporting wage,” Smith said. “These recommendations would hold for-profit schools accountable in providing the necessary skills training our future workforce needs, while also affording greater protections to students in the event these schools shut down.”