The Issue is THEC fees, not Career College Performance

Your April 2, 2009, editorial on career colleges gets an "F" for missing the point of the debate.

Everyone inside and outside education already agrees that career-college performance data should be audited for accuracy. That’s not the issue.

The real question is: How large a budget does the Tennessee Higher Education Commission need to conduct these audits properly?

Other states such as Georgia and Kentucky are able to achieve the same goals with half the staff and half the spending. THEC should, too. A quick study of surrounding states shows exactly how this can be accomplished.

We encourage The Tennessean to ask THEC why it needs to spend twice as much to audit a career college as any other surrounding state. We hope the governor’s office and the state legislature will ask that same question, as well.

Since THEC relies entirely on the fees paid by career colleges in order to perform its audits, the majority of taxpayers in Tennessee are insulated from these outrageous spending levels.

College students, unfortunately, are not. These fee increases represent an additional expense, which ultimately must be included in their annual tuition costs.

Some colleges’ fees will be three or four times higher under the new THEC plan.

Has the budget at THEC tripled?

THEC should open its budget to provide complete transparency before passing along massive fee increases.

Let legislators and their constituents have an honest look at the unnecessary spending THEC is proposing to fund with fees that must ultimately be paid by students seeking a career education.
In the future, please remember that audits have everyone’s full support. We only want THEC to perform those audits within a reasonable budget. Fee increases should not be used as a "blank check" to cover wasteful spending.

Frank Longaker is president of the National College of Business & Technology. (

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Lifetime Learner
I concur with Frank Longaker. THEC has a good handle on career college oversight. Disclosure and transparency are not only desirable but necessary. The effect of these high fees will be to discourage growth and innovation at a time when the demand for education and reskilling is increasing just as the economy and employment are declining. Proprietary educators can provide solutions appropriately, rapidly, and at no cost to taxpayers. The capacities and capabilities of public and not-for-profit institutions are limited. They are experiencing funding cutbacks, fewer contributions, budget deficits, and program eliminations. Enrollments are up but so is the number… Read more »