Career Education Corporation (CEC) (NASDAQ: CECO), a global provider of postsecondary education programs and services, demonstrated its commitment to studying, sharing and promoting solutions that address student loan defaults by co-sponsoring "Student Loan Default Aversion: Forum on Research and Best Practices," a conference that brought together experts on the topic Friday in Washington, D.C.
"A wide cross section of higher education institutions attended the forum, clearly demonstrating the broad, growing concern about student loan defaults, especially among institutions that serve higher risk borrowers," said Diane Auer Jones, CEC’s Vice President of External and Regulatory Affairs and formerly the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. "The data would suggest that there is a conflict between our national policy goals of increasing access while reducing student loan defaults. We don’t believe these two objectives should be at odds with one another and hope to bring the best researchers and practitioners together to find effective, scalable solutions that work for the many non-traditional borrowers who unnecessarily default on their student loans. We want to be a part of that discussion as we aim to be part of the solution."
Held at the National Press Club, the forum elicited a spirited discussion on the topic starting with the insightful opening remarks made by Terry Hartle, Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs for the American Council on Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education hosted and moderated the event, which was co-sponsored by the Education Finance Council.
Regardless of the institution they represented – from private colleges to state universities to community colleges to private sector colleges and universities – event participants seemed to agree that if institutions are to be held accountable for a student’s default, then they should have the ability to moderate the amount students borrow in excess of direct educational costs. There was also agreement that borrowers from low-income families are more likely to default, in part because they have no parental safety net upon which to rely during times of economic challenge. And clearly the downturn in the economy, which has had a disproportionate impact on the careers of younger adults, has caused more students to suffer financial hardships.
At the same time, the group was in agreement that solving the problem of defaults will require a cultural shift on campus so that all involved in the student lifecycle contribute to the solution by focusing on student retention, graduation and success. Because of the positive effect of academic achievement and degree completion, default management is an academic and student services priority as much as a financial aid priority. There was also agreement that institutions should be held accountable, but outcome metrics must be weighted to reflect the risks that students bring with them to campus.
Panelists included, Jacob P. K. Gross, Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of Louisville; Carrie Hansen, Product Manager for NorthStar Education Services; Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum; and Dr. Bronté Jones, Ph.D., Treasurer, St. John’s College. Jeffrey J. Selingo, Vice President of the The Chronicle of Higher Education moderated the discussion.
Career Education believes in the importance of preventing student loan defaults; especially given that its schools serve many students with higher risk factors for default. Its institutions already address the issue in various ways, which includes providing thorough and clear financial aid counseling and information to students before they borrow, during their studies and after they leave school. All students and graduates of Career Education schools also have access to an online suite of financial literacy and planning tools through student portals and online virtual campuses.
"Students should understand the financial commitments they are accepting when investing in their education," Auer Jones said. "While providing ample information on student aid is part of the solution to reducing loan defaults, we are eager to explore other solutions that can benefit students from all walks of life."
About Career Education Corporation
The colleges, schools and universities that are part of the Career Education Corporation ("CEC") family offer high-quality education to a diverse student population of more than 75,000 students across the world in a variety of career-oriented disciplines through online, on-ground and hybrid learning program offerings. The more than 90 campuses that serve these students are located throughout the United States and in France, the United Kingdom and Monaco, and offer doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees and diploma and certificate programs.
CEC is an industry leader whose institutions are recognized globally. Those institutions include, among others, American InterContinental University ("AIU"); Brooks Institute; Colorado Technical University ("CTU"); Harrington College of Design; INSEEC Group ("INSEEC") Schools; International University of Monaco ("IUM"); International Academy of Design & Technology ("IADT"); Le Cordon Bleu North America ("LCB"); and Sanford-Brown Institutes and Colleges. Through its schools, CEC is committed to providing high-quality education, enabling students to graduate and pursue rewarding career opportunities.
For more information, see CEC's website at www.careered.com. The website includes a detailed listing of individual campus locations and web links to CEC's colleges, schools, and universities.