Washington, DC — November 3, 2011 — Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee admitted that it had relied on incorrect data and overstated the amount of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits collected by career colleges. The admission came on the heels of a letter from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Legislative Branch, in which the GAO once again refused to withdraw its flawed and biased report despite acknowledging inaccuracies. Following these events, Penny Lee, Managing Director of the Coalition for Educational Success, released the following statement:
“This week’s news on the GAO and the Senate HELP Committee is stunning. Within days of each other, the GAO again admitted ‘process weaknesses in not fully complying with GAO’s quality standards that led to inaccuracies in the original testimony’, the result of which was a flawed and biased report on the career college sector, and the Senate HELP Committee admitted to incorrectly calculating data on veterans benefits and career colleges.
“Essentially what they are saying is that their processes are deeply flawed, their data is erroneous – but they stand by their poorly-supported conclusions. When it comes to their campaign against the career college sector both of these institutions seem to follow the irresponsible approach, ‘if the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.’
“For over a year, the Committee has relied on the flawed GAO report and used misleading statistics to on student enrollment and borrowing to push its case against career colleges. These are the facts: career colleges enroll 20 percent of full-time, first-time degree/certificate-seeking students, represent 23 percent of Title IV loan dollars drawn and a proportional amount of loan default dollars (24 percent). Opponents of career colleges ignore U.S. Department of Education data and are simply wrong when they assert that students at career colleges represent 44 percent of loan defaults.
“We hope that instead of spending time incorrectly calculating data and relying on discredited GAO numbers, that the Committeefocuses its work on supporting efforts to create a single standard for all of higher education, one that protects students and taxpayers.”
Coalition for Educational Success
The Coalition for Educational Success includes many of the nation’s leading career colleges. Career colleges provide training for students in 17 of the 20 fastest growing fields. The Coalition advocates for policies that support wider access to higher education, particularly for non-traditional students including full-time workers, workforce returners, working parents, minorities and veterans.
COALITION FOR EDUCATIONAL SUCCESS