Protections Have Been Weakened For-Profit Institutions’ Students in California

Career College Central Summary:

  • Until 2010, the Private Postsecondary Education Act let students sue schools. It required that private colleges meet a minimum graduation rate of 60 percent and that certain vocational colleges place at least 70 percent of graduates in jobs in their fields. And after recruiting students, colleges had to wait three days to enroll them or sign them up for loans so applicants could have a "cooling off" period from high-pressure sales tactics.
  • California lawmakers removed or watered down these and other protections in 2009 amid lobbying from the for-profit education industry, which donated at least $197,700 in 2009 and 2010 to the campaigns of Assembly members and state senators who were in office when the law passed, according to an analysis by MapLight, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics.
  • The new version of the law extends the Private Postsecondary Education Act through 2016.
  • Lawmakers debating the law are focused mainly on how to repair the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, which was established in 2010 to enforce the law, but which is widely seen as failing to protect students' interests.
  • A state audit found in March that the bureau never identified unlicensed institutions as required; conducted only two unannounced inspections – far fewer than its 456 announced inspections, though both methods were to be used equally; and lagged so badly in processing new schools that its backlog topped 1,100 applications. The bureau also "failed to appropriately respond to complaints," with hundreds languishing for six months or more.

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