A recently filed lawsuit alleges that officials of Florida State College at Jacksonville conspired to compete with a for-profit college with a campus in Jacksonville. This is not true.
With an enrollment of 85,000, our college has plenty of students.
What is true is that Keiser University is retaliating against our efforts to raise awareness about excessive student loan debt.
In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, Florida State College at Jacksonville has been significantly involved in efforts to improve student loan consumer protection.
In our view, strong measures are urgently needed at state and federal levels to ensure consumer protection against the abusive practices of some for-profit colleges that can saddle vulnerable students and their families with a lifelong burden of debt without any realistic prospect for repayment.
Such excessive debt often precludes further education and may severely impair the student’s ability to secure future employment and housing. Ultimately, American taxpayers pay for loan defaults, which currently total an estimated $47.4 billion.
Federal studies and investigations have found the for-profit college industry to be at the center of this student debt crisis and have raised serious concerns about some of their business practices.
The leaders of Florida State College at Jacksonville are concerned primarily about the exploitation of students in Northeast Florida by profit-focused colleges as these (typically young) citizens pursue their dream of a higher education.
As one of the largest and most comprehensive public colleges in America, Florida State College at Jacksonville offers nearly every program of interest at tuition rates among the lowest in the nation.
The college’s commitment to student loan minimization led to the establishment of the Star Opportunity Fund – one of the largest local need-based financial aid programs in the country.
The number of scholarships awarded by the fund to low-income students has increased by 176 percent over the past two years, and the college’s foundation has launched a massive campaign to make far more resources available to students.
Florida State College at Jacksonville officials will continue to combat excessive student debt while working hard to protect the interests of our local college students.
We will not let this lawsuit deter us from our mission of providing high-quality, affordable education to our community, nor will it deter us from sounding the alarm about some of the business practices of the for-profit college industry.
STEVEN R. WALLACE,
Florida State College at Jacksonville