The article published March 13, "Schools spar over stimulus funding," by Jeremy Wallace, does not clearly explain that it is the students themselves who decide where they will go to school and where their Pell grant money will be spent. The fact that so many students choose private, for-profit colleges and universities simply reflects the effective job these institutions are doing, not that for-profits are in any way abusing taxpayer funds. Perhaps a more helpful article might be about why the public sector is not doing a better job of educating the students with the greatest need for higher education.
Career colleges and universities are not subsidized with taxpayer money — tuitions are lower at public schools because 75 percent of the cost is subsidized with public funds — and also pay taxes to their local, state and federal governments. They exist purely on the demand of the marketplace and use the Pell grants to teach a group of students who are not particularly well served by traditional schools — adult learners with job and family responsibilities, often without family financial support and many times the first in their family to attend college.
Student risk factors
The Imagine America Foundation examined federally submitted data and concluded that the career college sector enrolled a greater percentage of students with multiple risk factors than any other sector. It could be said that the career college sector has become the sector of opportunity for many adult students. The same study concluded that the career college sector is much more effective in assisting these students to complete.
For-profit schools are not a problem, as implied in the story; they are a huge part of the solution. To generalize on the problems of a relatively few schools distorts the discussion, as 2.8 million students across the country receive good educations at these accredited schools.
According to the Career College Association the graduation rate for two-year career colleges is more than twice that for community colleges, and the average retention and job placement rates of career colleges were above 70 percent, according to a report by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. Placement rates are often not tracked for traditional schools.
Despite the efforts of some to politicize Pell grants, President Obama has announced a nonpartisan effort to increase the amount of post-secondary education and training every American receives. It is essential that America increases the number of college graduates and workers with post-secondary training to maintain the country’s competitiveness in the global economy. For example 54 percent of health care workers graduated from career schools, 10 percent of them nurses.
Universities such as Keiser University are not "sparring" over funding with anyone, and instead are successfully working to be an effective part of the country’s post-secondary educational system. They are providing educational solutions for adult and career-minded students, 68 percent of which have prior college experience, and helping to develop world-class work-force talent throughout the country.
Arthur Keiser is the chancellor of Keiser University, based in Sarasota. Web site: keiseruniversity.edu