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Retention – the new revenue stream

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Drawing a sufficient number of leads and new starts is the lifeblood of any career college. But while schools focus on new advertising and marketing strategies, attrition is undermining recruitment – and more importantly, the bottom line.

It’s $1.5 million you’ll never see again. Gone, before you even knew it was missing. Worse yet, you never knew you had it.

For years, the emphasis of lead generation has been finding new ways to attract students, including advertising and marketing campaigns and public relations tactics. These methods continue to pay off for some schools, but for others, the money being poured into new recruitment strategies still isn’t translating into profit.

While some career colleges are seeing a rise in student starts, the bottom line isn’t showing an increase to parallel the swell in new students. In the rush to fill classrooms, career colleges are focusing little attention on the needs of existing students. And many schools are failing to see the impact of attrition, which theoretically can reach million dollar figures.

All this is happening because administrators are failing to tap into a key source of lead generation that resonates from the inside of the schools: students. Once downplayed as a standard industry buzzword, retention is shucking its monotony and is rising as the latest tactic for attracting new leads. From estimates provided by a group of six retention experts polled by Career College Central, lost revenue due to attrition can be as much as $3,000 per student if the student drops in the first quarter.

Others included in the poll wouldn’t commit to an actual dollar figure, noting that the effects of attrition can be limitless, putting a hit on ongoing and future initiatives, such as capital equipment, new programs and higher raises.

The biggest proponents of retention swear by its simple, common sense application and tout its cost-effectiveness. Dissenters, actually, are few. Common sense would prevent operators of any college to encourage students to leave before completing their education. Yet some unwillingly fall into a broad range of detractors, from those who never fully committed to the concepts of retention to those who simply don’t understand how it impacts the bottom line.

Missing the connection
“Retention means students complete college and ideally graduate within the time frame prescribed,” said Dr. Susan Schulz, Chief Operating Officer of Susan F. Schulz and Associates. “If they’ve done that, you have to assume they are a happy, successful, satisfied student because they’ve gone to school in an environment that promotes their ability to be successful. It’s very simple. If they are happy and successful, aren’t they going to tell other people?”

Schulz started her company in Boca Raton, Fla., in 1994 to assist school owners with compliance, attending to issues such as licensing and accreditation. Schulz and Associates now also represents schools in Latin America and Canada. Her work in the area of retention primarily stems from a training module she created in her doctoral dissertation.

Compiling research for her doctoral thesis, Schulz reviewed exit interviews from a massage therapy college in Boca Raton, Fla. She’d spent six months interviewing students, dropouts and graduates, and observing the college’s operations, including its admissions processes.

“We clung to each other like rats in a river,” Schulz said, recalling one student’s exit interview comments about her educational experience. “I never met the girl who wrote it and I don’t know if she graduated, but I could hear her voice. Her words were really very touching … very sweet.”

Somewhere in the process, these students had been deserted inadvertently by a school with the best of intentions: getting students into class, fast.

Broken into six parts, Schulz’s module promotes a philosophy that retention and recruitment are one in the same. Lead generation, at the time, was almost solely focused on external ways of luring students to classrooms while little attention was being paid to the bigger picture of satisfied students.

She began looking for answers outside the popular realms of advertising and marketing to solve her clients’ lead generation issues. Beginning with the premise that retention efforts are vital to the success of any school, she began theorizing – as have many schools and consulting agencies in the sector – on the overall impact on schools with low retention rates, including the effect of lost students on the bottom line.

What attrition costs
The Business Intelligence division of PlattForm, an agency that provides creative services and media placement to the postsecondary education industry, has led focus groups and training sessions on the subject of both student and employee retention.

The department uses findings from the Career College Association as a focal point for putting a dollar figure on the overall impact of attrition on enrollment.

According to CCA, at a typical career college about 40 percent of students drop out before completing their training. Assuming a career college’s average monthly tuition is $1,200, the average time to graduate is 14 months, and most dropouts occur during the first half of the term, schools lose at least seven months of revenue – $8,400 – per dropout.

The larger view can be even more frightening for career colleges. Applying CCA’s estimates to an entire enrollment, a typical school of 500 will lose 200 students, or 40 percent of its enrollment, annually. If it could save only 10 percent of those dropouts, or 20 students, the school would retain $168,000 in revenue.

According to Jan Friedheim, a Strategic Coach with Education Systems & Solutions, up-front costs of lost students are undoubtedly high, but can vary significantly depending on the state where the career college is located.

Friedheim said in some states a pro rata refund policy is in place, so the school can’t keep much tuition. There are other variables, including acquisition costs, the amount of tuition collected and the timing of the drop. Dropout rates can also cause issues on a much broader scale.

“Accrediting standards have to be met and if your drop rate is above standard, you will be subject to some pretty serious action by the accrediting and sometimes state regulatory agencies,” Friedheim said. “That could be very costly.”

Referrals from retention
More is at stake here than money. According to the research from some of our retention experts, schools that solve retention issues can draw 25 to 40 percent of leads from referrals.

If students don’t complete the programs they enroll in, the school and the students suffer. The school loses tuition and another satisfied graduate to spread the word in the community. Students lose time, money and the possibility of starting a new life. So student success is imperative, not merely an added bonus.

The hole schools fall into gets deeper once dissatisfied students drop out, said Pam Tiemeyer Jones, founder of Lightpoint Learning in Atlanta, Ga. For every student lost by career colleges, potential leads are subjected to negative feedback spread by students who had lackluster experiences. Schools miss out on additional leads along with a few semesters of revenue from students who bail.

Tiemeyer Jones provides training and employee development for all departments of career colleges and traditional colleges and universities. Like Schulz, she is an expert in retention-building techniques and began leading seminars across the country in 2003 while working as a professional trainer for Datamark, an advertising and marketing agency in Salt Lake City, Utah.

From a lead generation perspective, retention is not providing new leads unless a student is referring them. However, it is keeping revenue in the school simply by providing quality service to students and training existing staff to be responsible for retention.

“The cheapest leads I can buy are from my own students,” Tiemeyer Jones said. “Referrals should be coming by word of mouth. Those are the ones I want. Instead, schools are putting a ton of money upfront, letting it walk right out the back door and losing months and months of revenue. It’s a huge revenue loss.”

There are companies responsible for helping prevent these types of downfalls, such as Student Resources in St. Louis, Mo., which enhances the career colleges’ services with many issues outside of the classroom. Janet Mug, President and owner of the company, said aiding students with a full range of support services was important when attending to students’ non-school needs. The company addresses an array of issues including personal counseling, and locating community and healthcare resources. All help students live up to the daily responsibilities that often put them in a better position to stay on track in school.

Correcting retention
In some instances, the faith many students have in their institutions of choice are undermined from the initial stages of enrollment. By the time most students are through with the admission process, they’ve already made a critical decision. They’ve made up their mind – sometimes subconsciously – whether they are going to stay in school or drop out. All too often, schools are undoing any chance of utilizing retention as a lead generator by offering too much complex information in one sitting. Others fail to clarify criteria for the student, not only about what is expected from them in the classroom, but about what to anticipate in the coursework.

“Retention practices define the school – internally and externally,” said Loren Kroh, President and Co-founder of Corvus LLC. “Students who withdraw because they feel they were mistreated or misled will have a dramatic negative effect on recruiting efforts. Prospective students are more likely to believe a peer than a stranger – particularly one in a sales position.”

The entire focus on the admissions and educational processes should be centered on making students happy or satisfied, according to our panel. In turn, satisfied students translate into happy graduates and lead to more referrals. Some schools might hold orientations for students, but these can also be contributors to retention issues if the discussion isn’t meaningful.

For example, orientation for some schools consists primarily of a welcome by the admissions rep and a quick tour of the campus or facility. Students are shown break rooms and restrooms, provided with books, and then hurriedly passed on to class.

While it might seem more efficient to expedite the orientation process, important conversations about backup plans for child care or rides to school are skipped. Often, important discussions about how family members or significant others might react to a student’s pursuit of better things never occurs.

Satisfied students not only spread the word about their experiences, but the education they receive transfers into the workplace. Work-ready graduates can transform a college into a resource for businesses, which in turn provides leads.

If schools with poor retention rates are abandoning students, the ones with high retention have seemingly found them. Being found, in this sense, means students don’t feel deserted. Instead, they are pleased with their educational experience and feel like individuals in pursuit of a changed life, not a number hurried into the classroom to fill seats.

For schools, the result is increased referrals and smaller marketing costs as students spread positives about their school among their friends and family, and within the workforce. The answers to lead generation are not solely tied to advertising budgets, but rather in the cordialities of working closer with students. They are already in class, they have already committed to the idea of education and graduating alongside their fellow students, but in many cases the commitment to schools could run much deeper.

Career College Association Hill Days 2007 – CCA Goes to Capitol Hill

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Fighting for a place in a slew of new legislation, about 100 high-ranking members of the Career College Association descended on Capitol Hill in March.

CCA arranged about 250 individual meetings with legislators as part of its annual Hill Days event. The membership organization is the flagship association for career colleges, representing more than 1,300 accredited postsecondary institutions. Colleges belonging to CCA support, each year, about two million students employed in more than 200 occupational fields.

The challenge for members on this day of meetings was to debrief officials on the top issues facing the sector during sessions typically lasting 20 minutes or less. Most of the issues centered on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), in which career colleges hope to level the playing field with traditional colleges and universities.

The act, which has languished in the approval process since its inception on May 5, 2004, governs many areas of education finance. In Congress’ last term, Republicans did not fully reauthorize HEA, leaving the door open for the new Democratic-controlled Congress to change the laws.

About 20 or so small groups of CCA supporters visited with both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. Four issues were the primary focus for these meetings:

Increasing need-based financial aid
Transfer of credit
90-10 rule
Institutional accountability

“It’s only one day, but the impact can be significant,” said Joe Davis, the current Chair of the Imagine America Foundation. “Many of the newer senators simply don’t know the role career colleges play in educating and training the 21st century workforce. For the ones who do, Hill Day is a chance to reaffirm our position and make sure our allies remain champions of our cause.”

Davis is President and CEO of MedTech College in Indianapolis, Ind., and Wall, N.J., and past Chairman of the board of CCA. He said the complexity of the issues facing career colleges was a factor in narrowing discussions to a handful of specific issues.

INCREASING FEDERAL INVESTMENT
The number of students receiving federal student aid has increased significantly in the past 20 years. However, increases to the maximum amount of assistance available through the Pell Grant and other federal financial aid programs haven’t kept pace with inflation, Davis said.

Increasing the maximum Pell Grant award levels, as CCA suggests in its higher education platform, would prevent the excessive debt students encounter in obtaining an education. The organization is also in favor of exploring innovative options, such as “front loading,” which would provide increased assistance to students during their first two years of college.

As another possible solution, CCA members proposed boosting federal investment in campus-based financial aid programs, such as Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Work-Study and Perkins Loans.

TRANSFER OF CREDITS
While the majority of CCA’s membership schools are accredited by either national or regional agencies, nationally accredited institutions are often viewed as inferior in the regionally accredited sector. Students are impacted when they attempt to move credits from nationally accredited institutions to regional ones and find they don’t transfer. To quell the disappointment and financial loss caused by this issue, CCA’s position is to publicly disclose transfer of credit policies and specifically state whether the institution denies credits solely upon the basis of the type of accreditation of the institution.

“Our students are being told flat out that credits will not be accepted despite the fact that we are a nationally accredited university,” said Greg Shields, Regional Director of Operations for National College. “Certainly they are being penalized, because they have a very strong interest in continuing their education, and the door is being closed to them.”

MODIFYING THE 90-10 RULE
Improvements CCA proposed for the 90-10 rule would remove the penalization many low-income students face in acquiring financial aid. CCA members voiced their intent to support the House-Senate compromise that effectively removes the death penalty for colleges receiving more than 10 percent of their funding from financial aid. This new measure, as proposed by CCA, would apply to all postsecondary institutions.

“90-10 really punishes those students of the lower socioeconomic strata because they are the ones who need financial aid the most,” said Sue Ream, National Director of Career Services for ITT Technical Institute. “The average age of our students is 27. They are people who understand why they are going to school. They can’t rely on mom and dad. Parents are pretty much out of the picture by then.”

ENSURING INSTITUTIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY
A commission assembled by the Secretary of Education has proposed a new way to gauge the effectiveness of colleges. Similar to measures in the No Child Left Behind Act, the commission wants to develop an “Institutional Report Card” to grade academic performance. While CCA supports the report card concept, it opposes subjecting career colleges and traditional colleges and universities to different standards. CCA has encouraged Congress and the Department of Education to make the standards universal.

Whether CCA has won its battle won’t be apparent until the Higher Education Act is approved. Even that would be an impressive feat, as the last two Congresses failed to get it off the ground. Still, with the numbers of supporters lobbying for the sector, the organization gave a voice to the issues important to students, even if the powers that be are yet to prove they can be organized or effective for the sake of higher education.

CCA 2007: New Orleans

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In 2006, CCA National Convention attendees found themselves in a familiar place. They were strolling the Las Vegas strip, admiring their hotel – the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino – catching up with people within the career college sector, and of course, enjoying the conference.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way, though. See, Vegas wasn’t originally in CCA’s cards in 2006. The Career College Association initially scheduled that convention for New Orleans, Louisiana. America’s Most Interesting City. The Crescent City. The Big Easy.

Thanks primarily to Hurricane Katrina, which came ashore during the final days of August 2005, New Orleans has been but a shadow of those monikers throughout much of the last two years.

Initially after Katrina, many abandoned the city because of its uninhabitable, dangerous state. So, naturally, many businesses and business opportunities followed suit. Some residents permanently relocated. The city’s professional football and basketball teams left for a while. Convention planners who lined up New Orleans as a destination for business had to scramble to find new sites for their conventions. This included the annual CCA convention.

But like so many New Orleans residents, CCA made the commitment to return to New Orleans, which has valiantly worked to rebuild itself since the disaster. The Big Easy will now host this year’s annual convention from June 13 to 15.

“We were supposed to be there before Katrina came about,” said Katie Calabrese, CCA Director of Events. “It’s a great city, and it has a lot to offer. We felt like we needed to go back.”

And the city – considering all of the rebuilding, restoring and refurbishing – is definitely in need and ready for the kind of tourist attractions a convention like this brings.

“The city still has the fun aspect that it had and the same attractions that drew crowds pre-Katrina,” Calabrese said. “I think of it as an enhancement upon a great city to start with. The only difference comes from the people who live there. They’re more gracious to have people come in as tourists because they understand what it means to the economy.”

Not only will attendees have a chance to scatter about New Orleans and its reviving culture, but they’ll also be there for business as usual. There will be breakout sessions, meetings and forums from Wednesday to Friday afternoon. The weekend will be capped off by the Imagine America Foundation Gala Reception.

“I expect the attendees to enjoy it just as they have with all prior CCA conventions,” Calabrese said. “I expect everyone who comes to learn from the informative sessions that we have in our program. We want them to feel like they should come away with something and hopefully they will.”

In the pages ahead, Career College Central will give you a preview of what to expect from the conference, as well as things to do and places to go while in New Orleans.

One Can’t-Miss Session from Each Program Track

MARKETING: How Internet Marketing Can Increase Student Enrollment
PRESENTER: Google Education Specialist, Google
TIME: Wednesday, 3:15-4:30 p.m.
WORTHWHILE: A Google specialist will venture into the sometimes complicated world of Internet marketing and how it can be used to improve student enrollment in career colleges.

ADMISSIONS: Student-Centered Enrollment & Recruitment Process
PRESENTERS: Richard and Nancy Ashley, Southwest Florida College and Enrollment Management Innovations
TIME: Thursday, 2-3:15 p.m.
WORTHWHILE: The Ashleys will lead an admissions discussion on how student-centered enrollment can be an effective tool in the new student recruitment process.

COMPLIANCE/FINANCIAL AID: Do I Have To Be a Cop? Detecting and Reporting Financial Aid Fraud
PRESENTERS: Blaine Butner, Dow Lohnes PLLC; Steven Anderson, U.S. Department of Education; and Katherine Carey, Universal Technical Institute
TIME: Friday, 10:45 a.m.-noon
WORTHWHILE: This panel will venture into how to handle situations where academic fraud comes into play and how compliance and financial aid officials should respond in these situations.

STUDENT SERVICES/PLACEMENT: Why Students Drop Out and What You Can Do About It Today
PRESENTER: Neal Raisman, AcademicMAPS
WORTHWHILE: Retention is an important aspect of any college’s mission. Raisman will explore the reason why students leave schools and what can be done to reverse that trend.

FACULTY DEVELOPMENT: Approaching Diversity in the Classroom
PRESENTERS: Dina H. Shafey and Julius R. Moore, Westwood College
TIME: Thursday, 2-3:15 p.m.
WORTHWHILE: Diversity can be touchy subject matter in the classroom. Shafey and Moore will give faculty who attend this session a few methods on approaching diversity within the teacher-student setting.

EDUCATION: Developing New Programs for MS Office 2007
PRESENTER: Sean Casey, Thomson Learning
TIME: Friday, 3:15-4:30 p.m.
WORTHWHILE: Casey will delve into the new programs that will be available for use with Microsoft Office 2007.

ONLINE EDUCATION: Live Chat: Communicating with the IM Generation
PRESENTER: Phillippe Long, LivePerson, Inc.
TIME: Friday, 10:45 a.m.-noon
WORTHWHILE: Instant messaging has become a way of our world. Now, education must catch up with the times. Long will explore how educators can work with a generation of students who use instant messaging as a primary mode of communication.

OPERATIONS: Let’s Make a Deal: Improving Your Negotiating Skills
PRESENTER: Nancy Broff, CCA
TIME: Thursday, 2-3:15 p.m.
WORTHWHILE: Improve your negotiation skills as a way to solve problems and improve relationships with students, faculty, colleagues and even your teenage kids. This interactive workshop will use negotiation games and simulations to help you learn to use principled negotiation instead of positional negotiation to resolve disputes.

The Sites, Scenes and Sounds of New Orleans

They say that New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz.

Its food is distinctively unique to the city, the only indigenous cuisine in the United States. The dialect of the New Orleans people can’t be found anywhere else in our country either. As you drive into the city, welcome signs greet you with a sterling message about the land you have chosen to enter: America’s Most Interesting City.

Well, soon you’ll have a chance to see if any of New Orleans piques your interest during the Career College Association’s National Conference in New Orleans. There will be full menu of things to do during scheduled conference activities, but we at Career College Central want to make sure that you also have a chance to experience New Orleans culture for all that it is.

From dining on Cajun cuisine to taking in some of the best jazz, there’s plenty to do. Thus, we have pieced together a smorgasbord of things to do in the Crescent City. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve found:

Six French Quarter Restaurants
Galatoire’s
209 Bourbon St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
504.525.2021
www.galatoires.com
WORTHWHILE: The restaurant is in its fourth generation of family ownership since it was opened in 1905 by Jean Galatoire.

Port of Call
838 Esplanade Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70116
504.523.0120
www.portofcallneworleans.com
WORTHWHILE: It started as a small steak house in 1963, but it’s now famous for its burgers, which some consider the best in town.

Tujague’s
823 Decatur St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
504.525.8676
www.tujagues.com
WORTHWHILE: At 150 years old, it’s the second-oldest restaurant in New Orleans.

Napoleon House
500 Chartres St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
504.524.9752
www.napoleonhouse.com
WORTHWHILE: Nicholas Girod, mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815, first occupied the residence. He offered his house to an exiled Napoleon in 1821, but Napolean never made it.

Café Du Monde
800 Decatur St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
1.800.772.2927
www.cafedumonde.com
WORTHWHILE: The original Café was established in 1862 in the French Market. It’s open around the clock.

Arnaud’s
813 Rue Bienville
New Orleans, LA 70112
1.866.230.8895
www.arnauds.com
WORTHWHILE: It has a second dining room called “Lover’s Lookout” with a mezzanine view that is to die for.

Five Restaurants Outside the Quarter
Jacques-Imo’s
8324 Oak St.
New Orleans, LA 70118
504.861.0886
www.jacquesimoscafe.com
WORTHWHILE: Owned and operated by Jacques Leonardi, who has a listed title of owner/chef.

Upperline
1413 Upperline St.
New Orleans, LA 70115
504.891.9822
www.upperline.com
WORTHWHILE: Opened in 1983 with no money for the first week’s payroll, but has now garnered national recognition for its Creole cuisine.

Clancy’s
6100 Annunciation St.
New Orleans, LA 70118
504.895.1111
WORTHWHILE: You won’t be able to tell when you walk in, but Clancy’s used to be an old po-boy sandwich shop.

Mother’s Restaurant
401 Poydras St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
504.523.9656
www.mothersrestaurant.net
WORTHWHILE: Mother’s served as a hangout for the U.S. Marine Corps during and after World War II.

Commander’s Palace
1403 Washington Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70130
504.899.8221
www.commanderspalace.com
WORTHWHILE: Commander’s Palace has been a staple in New Orleans since 1880. It also has a restaurant located in Las Vegas.

Three Jazz Lounges
Preservation Hall
726 St. Peter St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
1.888-946.JAZZ (5299)
www.preservationhall.com
WORTHWHILE: It was built as a private residence in 1750. It evolved into a tavern, an inn, a photo studio and an art gallery. Veteran and youthful musicians often mix it up to give the crowd a variety.

Club 300
300 Decatur St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
504.581.2534
www.neworleansjazzbistro.com
WORTHWHILE: There’s an appetizing blend of live jazz and Louisiana cuisine that is sure to please.

House of Blues
225 Decatur St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
504.310.4999
www.hob.com
WORTHWHILE: It’s a nationally renowned chain with a Southeastern flair and charm that comes with the bands that grace its stage nightly.

A Few Shops
Saks Fifth Avenue
301 Canal St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
504.524.2200
www.saksfifthavenue.com

Valobra Jewelry & Antiques
333 Royal St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
504.525.6363
www.valobra.net

Fischer-Gambino
637 Royal St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
504.524.9067

Three Museums
Louisiana State Museum
614 St. Ann St.
New Orleans, LA 70116
lsm.crt.state.la.us

New Orleans Museum of Art & the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden
One Collins Diboll Cir., City Park
New Orleans, LA 70124
504.658.4100
www.noma.org

Newcomb Art Gallery
Newcomb College/Tulane University
New Orleans, LA 70112
504.865.5328
www.newcomb.tulane.edu

The Imagine America Foundation announces new employee

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The Imagine America Foundation has announced that Chris Carroll has been appointed its Manager of Strategic Development. In this position, Carroll’s primary responsibility will be to develop and strengthen the Foundation’s partnerships with colleges and organizations in the career college sector of higher education.

Carroll has extensive experience with the career college sector. Before joining the Imagine America Foundation, Carroll was with the Career College Association where he was Manager of Membership and Communications. In that role, he was responsible for new membership initiatives and services, editing the Link, writing press releases, and updating the organization’s web site. Carroll graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a Bachelor degree in Economics, Film and Media Studies.

As the research and scholarship providing arm of the career college sector, IAF is not-for-profit and dedicated to increasing access to higher education.

Bob Martin, president of the Imagine America Foundation, said Carroll’s knowledge of the career college sector will help him sustain the needs of the Imagine America Foundation’s future growth.

“Chris’s background in membership development will be a perfect fit for us as our organization continues to expand its programs to further aid the career college community nationwide,” Martin said.

About the Imagine America Foundation
The Imagine America Foundation (IAF) is a not-for-profit affiliate of the Career College Association, established in 1982. Since its inception, the Foundation has provided over $35 million in scholarship and award support for graduating high school seniors, adult learners and U.S. military veterans attending career colleges nationwide through its award-winning Imagine America® programs. The Foundation also publishes vital research publications for the higher education sector, honors achievement in career education and supports faculty/staff training. For more information about the Imagine America Foundation’s scholarship and award programs, please visit www.imagineamericafoundation.com.

University of Liverpool and Laureate International Universities announce collaboration

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Laureate International Universities, one of the world’s largest networks of private higher education institutions, and the University of Liverpool today announced the expansion of a unique partnership to leverage programs and expertise to create the next generation of international programs for students worldwide.

This partnership, which will foster the joint development and sharing of study abroad programs, dual-degrees and curricula, was created to address the growing global need for students to “internationalize” their education.

Laureate Online Education has served as the e-Learning partner of the University of Liverpool since 1999. Laureate Online Education, which includes Walden University, is Laureate’s best-in-class distance education group. Through this relationship, Laureate has developed several international online Master’s programs, using specially adapted versions of University of Liverpool campus-taught degrees. By extending its association to campus-based institutions, the Liverpool-Laureate partnership will allow the two institutions to build on their solid relationship and serve a large and growing segment of the population.

“Cultural awareness and understanding are critical components to a higher education that leads to successful careers and a better world,” said Professor Drummond Bone, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool. “Our association with Laureate International Universities seeks not only to increase the number of students who study abroad, but also to dramatically expand the availability of international academic programs for students who may not be able to travel abroad.”

Raph Appadoo, Laureate President, stated, “Our mission is to expand student access to higher education with a strong commitment to providing students with an international orientation to their chosen field of study. The University of Liverpool shares this belief and is known the world over for its focus and dedication to research and instruction. We are proud to have been selected by Liverpool as its premier partner in international higher education.”
The University of Liverpool-Laureate agreement will promote the development of a variety of additional international opportunities:

Study Abroad Opportunities – new study abroad programs for both students of the University of Liverpool and Laureate institutions worldwide.

Summer School at the University of Liverpool – a study abroad program for students at Laureate institutions to perfect their English language skills while earning academic credit during their summer break.

Dual Degrees – programs that provide students the opportunity to earn two degrees by conducting part of their studies at a Laureate institution and the remainder of their studies at the University of Liverpool.

Consulting and Curriculum Design – joint development and sharing of leading curricula in several fields, including health sciences, information technology and the humanities.

University of Liverpool programs onsite at Laureate Institutions in Europe, Latin America and Asia – expansion of Laureate students’ access to the University of Liverpool’s world-renowned programs, thus helping students who want the benefit of a UK education but are unable to leave their home country.

About the University of Liverpool
The University of Liverpool is one of the UK’s leading research institutions. It attracts collaborative and contract research commissions from a wide range of national and international organizations valued at more than £100 million annually.

About Laureate Education, Inc.
Laureate Education, Inc. (NASDAQ:LAUR) is the parent company of Laureate International Universities, one of the world’s largest private networks of accredited campus-based and online universities with 25 institutions in 15 countries, offering academic programs to 262,900 students through 58 campuses and online delivery. Addressing the rapidly growing global demand for higher education, Laureate offers a broad range of career-oriented undergraduate and graduate programs through campus-based universities located in Latin America, Europe and Asia. Through online universities, Laureate offers the growing population of non-traditional, working-adult students the convenience and flexibility of distance learning to pursue undergraduate, Master’s and Doctoral degree programs in major career fields, including engineering, education, business and healthcare. For more information, please visit our web site, http://www.laureate.net.

EVCI Career Colleges Holding Corp. signs agreement with ComVest

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Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. joins the board of directors

EVCI Career Colleges Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: EVCI) recently announced that it entered into a definitive agreement with The ComVest Group Holding LLC and participating EVCI management (collectively with ComVest Investment Partners III, L.P., an affiliate of ComVest) that will provide gross proceeds to EVCI of $10,100,000 and the ability to secure letters of credit of up to $6,700,000 (the financing). The agreement with ComVest provides for a closing by May 24, 2007, with no conditions other than the wiring of funds and the issuance of the securities. EVCI will restructure its bank debt (the April 2007 Debt Restructuring) at the same time as the financing is closed.

EVCI also announced that Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and a professor at Pace University School of Law has joined the EVCI board of directors to head up a new educational oversight committee.

“ComVest’s extensive due diligence over the last several months has convinced us that EVCI Career Colleges are high quality institutions run with integrity. We are pleased that the EVCI board has taken the steps to institute an educational oversight committee and appointed Bobby Kennedy to lead it,” said Michael Falk, Chairman of The ComVest Group.

“I am pleased to announce to our investors that the financing transaction provides EVCI with the capital resources to enhance the academic, administrative and financial integrity of our colleges. This financing is great news for our students, faculty and college administration at Technical Career Institutes, Interboro Institute and the Pennsylvania School of Business,” said Dr. John J. McGrath, CEO and President of EVCI.

“I am absolutely delighted that Bobby Kennedy has joined EVCI’s board of directors. His integrity and commitment to economically disadvantaged minorities is a perfect fit for our vision and mission,” said Dr. Arol I. Buntzman, Chairman of EVCI.

“More than 50 percent of the students that start in the New York City public schools do not graduate from high school. Technical Career Institutes and Interboro Institute are a life-raft to thousands of New Yorkers who are most vulnerable. EVCI’s colleges lift many economically disadvantaged minorities from hopelessness to harbors of hope and opportunity. I am thrilled with the idealism, pragmatism and professionalism of EVCI’s executive leadership. I am also very impressed with the faculty and administration at the colleges, and their embracing commitment to providing higher education opportunity to those most in need,” Robert Kennedy said.

Dr. Buntzman reported that Inder Tallur and Brian Fluck, partners of The ComVest Group, will join the EVCI board upon the closing of the financing. Mr. Kennedy replaced Elie Housman, and Messrs. Tallur and Fluck will replace Royce Flippin Jr. and Richard Goldenberg as directors. None of the departing Directors are leaving EVCI over any disagreement with management or other board member.

Brian Fluck brings nearly 30 years of executive financial and operational leadership experience to EVCI, formerly serving as Chief Financial Officer of AT&T Universal Card Services and Chairman of the Board of the Independent Bank through which this business was conducted. Mr. Fluck more recently was President and board member of several CNL Financial Group, Inc. companies, one of which was acquired by Lehman Brothers. Mr. Fluck brings strong executive management and board of directors experience to the EVCI board. Mr. Fluck is scheduled to join ComVest Investment Partners III as a full-time operating partner at about the time of the closing of this transaction.

Inder Tallur brings 12 years of investment experience in various roles at ComVest, including researching the educational sector during his tenure as Director of Research at Commonwealth Associates, an affiliate of the ComVest Group.

The financing has been structured so that it will not result in a change of control of EVCI until such time as all required preapprovals have been obtained under applicable rules and regulations of the governmental agencies regulating the operation of EVCI’s colleges and the nongovernmental entities that accredit our colleges.

The terms of the financing, including the agreements with EVCI management, have been approved by EVCI’s board of directors based upon the unanimous recommendation of a special committee of EVCI’s board that was formed on February 2, 2007, and consists of EVCI’s four independent directors. Seidman & Co., Inc., financial advisor to the special committee, has rendered an opinion to the special committee that concludes the financing is fair to EVCI’s stockholders.

At the closing, EVCI will issue 2,525,234 shares of common stock at $0.54 per share, $8,736,374 in face value of 12 percent secured convertible notes, which will be convertible into EVCI’s common stock if the notes are not repaid within 12 months, at $0.60 per share (subject to adjustment) and will mature in 36 months.

The net proceeds of approximately $8 million from issuance of the notes and shares, after payment of transaction fees estimated to be approximately $2 million, will be used to repay EVCI’s term loan bank debt. Under the restructuring of the bank agreement, EVCI will have access to $11 million of future borrowing, using a $5 million revolver and by increasing the term loan to $6 million.

ComVest will be required to assist EVCI in obtaining a one-year letter of credit of up to $6.7 million in favor of the U.S. Department of Education and, if required, the New York State Education Department or its designee. ComVest will either provide a corporate guaranty to the provider of the letter of credit or procure the letter of credit. For agreeing to assist EVCI, ComVest will receive a cash fee of $234,500 that will accrue until the senior debt is paid. To the extent EVCI is required to provide the letter of credit, EVCI will accrue a monthly fee of 1.37 percent of the face amount of the outstanding letter of credit. The letter of credit would be used to satisfy financial responsibility standards of regulators of our schools. In connection with issuance of the notes and agreeing to assist EVCI to obtain the letter of credit, three-year warrants to purchase up to 27,500,000 shares of EVCI’s common stock at $0.54 per share (subject to adjustment) will also be issued to ComVest.

The warrants and most of the notes will not be exercisable and convertible unless EVCI’s stockholders approve an increase in EVCI’s authorized common stock. If stockholders do not approve, the notes become due and payable, subject to an inter-creditor agreement with EVCI’s bank that subordinates the notes to the bank’s senior debt.

Dr. Arol I. Buntzman, EVCI’s Chairman; Dr. John J. McGrath, EVCI’s Chief Executive Officer and President; Joseph D. Alperin, EVCI’s General Counsel and Vice President for Corporate Affairs; and Stephen K. Schwartz, EVCI’s Vice President of Operations (collectively, Participating Management) have agreed to participate in the financing. Drs. Buntzman and McGrath and Mr. Alperin entered into amendments to their employment agreements, and Mr. Schwartz entered into a new employment agreement.

Participating Management will invest $1 million on a pari passu basis with ComVest Investment Partners III, L.P., as follows: Dr. Arol I. Buntzman, $500,000; Dr. John J. McGrath, $250,000; Joseph D. Alperin, $125,000; and Stephen Schwartz, $125,000.

The employment agreements with Participating Management provide for:

the surrender of options to purchase 916,484 shares that are exercisable at $1.00 per share.
reductions in salary aggregating $350,000 per annum.
a cash bonus pool of 10 percent of EBITDA (as defined), subject to a cap of 100 percent of their salaries.
a grant of options on April 24, 2007, to purchase 2,157,113 shares of EVCI’s common stock at $0.583 per share.
a grant of options on April 24, 2007, subject to stockholder approval, to purchase 4,376,559 shares of EVCI’s common stock at $0.54 per share.

Additional information regarding the terms of the financing will be disclosed in EVCI’s form 10-K for its year ending December 31, 2006, which it plans to file with the SEC by April 27, 2007.

About EVCI Career Colleges Holding Corp.
EVCI is the holding company for Interboro Institute, Technical Career Institutes and the Pennsylvania School of Business. Founded in 1888, Interboro offers degree programs leading to the Associate in Occupational Studies degree and Associate in Applied Sciences degree. Its programs include Accounting, Business Management, Ophthalmic Dispensing, Paralegal Studies, Office Technologies, and Security Services and Management. Interboro has a main campus in mid-town Manhattan and extension centers in both Flushing, New York, and the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, New York. EVCI acquired Interboro in January, 2000.

Founded in 1909, TCI offers two-year Associate Degree and Certificate programs. With an emphasis on technology, TCI offers programs within three major divisions: Business and New Media Technology, Computer and Electronics Technology, and Climate Control Technology. TCI’s main campus is on 31st Street diagonally across from Penn Station, and is supported by a nearby annex facility. EVCI acquired TCI in September of 2005.

PSB is authorized to offer two Associate in Specialized Business Degree programs and two diploma programs in Information Technology, as well as three recently authorized Business diploma programs. As permitted by the Pennsylvania State Education Department, after six months of teaching the three Business diploma programs, PSB plans to seek authorization to award Associate degrees in Special Business for those programs. PSB relocated to downtown Allentown, Pennsylvania. EVCI acquired PSB in January, 2005.

About ComVest
The ComVest Group is a Leading Private Equity Firm focused on investing in small and mico-cap companies. Since 1988, ComVest has invested more than $2 billion of capital in over 200 public and private companies worldwide. Through our extensive financial resources and broad network of industry experts, we are able to offer our companies total financial sponsorship, critical strategic support and business development assistance. Our focus is centered on building industry-leading companies and creating long-term value for equity holders. For more information on ComVest, please visit www.comvest.com.

Coming Soon: Videocasts

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Career College Central is the hub for all issues and news concerning for-profit private institutions. From admissions to curriculum to financial aid, we cover everything you need to know about career colleges.

Video-casting is the newest feature addition to our site. Internet video has become a popular and viable vehicle used for presenting and disseminating pertinent information.

That said we’re launching a new videocast section. Here our experts will give their opinions and analyses on the hottest issues as well as news updates on what is going on within the ever-evolving career college sector.

Like our magazine this collection of videocasts will take an in-depth look at current news and trends. We’ll be presenting interviews with prominent executives, investigating topics relevant to college directors, providing wisdom from leading experts in all areas of for-profit education and a host of other things.

We at Career College Central are confident this new addition will enhance our presentation and provide you with a better perspective of career colleges.

Check back periodically to see what’s new within the career college sector and what our experts have to say about it.

Hallmark Institute of Photography students to host Open House

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Hallmark Institute of Photography students invite the general public to a student-organized Open House, showcasing their skills and accomplishments. Events begin at 1:00pm on Sunday, April 29th at Hallmark’s Educational Center in Turners Falls, Massachusetts.

Turners Falls, Mass. April 19, 2007 — The Hallmark Institute of Photography announces its annual student-run Open House, on April 29, 2007, to be held at the Educational Center on Industrial Boulevard in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. This Open House differs from the other open houses put on by Hallmark because it is completely created by the students. Prospective students, family members, friends, interested parties and working professionals in the field of photography are encouraged to attend and discover why Hallmark graduates are in high demand every year.

Throughout the event, visitors will meet with resident students for guided tours through Hallmark’s industry-envied educational facility, as well as view photographic web sites being created, follow a digital image through its workflow, view a print exhibit and observe actual photo shoots in both the portrait studio and commercial studio.

Hallmark is known for its intensive 10-month program in the art, business and technology of photography. The Open House allows resident students to showcase all that they have learned during this program. Visitors will experience a firsthand look into the life of a Hallmark student as every aspect of Hallmark’s curriculum will be showcased during the Open House.

For more information or a press packet, contact Hallmark Institute of Photography at 413.863.2478.

New CampusLink Ambassador solution integrates bookstore services

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Campus Management Corporation and Ambassador College Bookstores have launched CampusLink® Ambassador, a successful real-time integration of their software systems that will help institutions automate and more rapidly process orders for books and supplies, identify potential student retention issues, and speed bill payments and reconciliations.

The integration connects Ambassador’s SourceOne supply chain system to Campus Management’s CampusVueâ„¢ ERP software. Campus Management, a leading provider of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, and Ambassador, a premier provider of book fulfillment and management services, are the first higher education service providers to offer such an in-depth integration.

Institutions using CampusLink Ambassador can achieve faster bookstore revenue recognition, “just in time” order fulfillment for books and supplies, and can capture changes in student information and courses in real time to update their SIS and bookstore systems. One major benefit for schools is that student information is kept up to date across both systems, and we link course registration with bookstore orders, automating and expediting the fulfillment process and assuring student data is current and accurate.

Key features offered through CampusLink Ambassador include:

Automated fulfillment – CampusLink Ambassador automates and collects fulfillment data for transmittal and processing bookstore purchases en masse once student registration is complete, thereby reducing manual order processing, administrative time and potential errors that create unnecessary expense.

Automated student ledger card updates – All bookstore transactions–purchases, refunds, and returns–are transmitted to the CampusVue system and used to automatically update student ledger cards. CampusLink Ambassador includes reconciliation tools that assure accurate transaction posting to the CampusVue student information system (SIS).

Single student or group account “holds” – Administrators can stop any bookstore transactions through an account “hold” on a single student or group of student accounts for bookstore purchases and fulfillment, automatically. This function enables institutions to reduce extensive inventory and storage requirements, as well as reduce administrative errors and identify and prevent cost overruns.

Online voucher and credit card purchase support – CampusLink Ambassador can support online voucher and credit card purchases. This enables students to purchase books and class materials faster and more conveniently, while improving institutions’ ability to track these transactions in the CampusVue SIS system.

Financial aid spending caps by student or campus – Institutions can establish and enforce bookstore spending limits by student and/or school and track bookstore transactions to stay within financial aid budgets.

About Ambassador College Bookstores
Since 1973, Ambassador has been providing premier bookstore fulfillment services to colleges and universities. Its comprehensive range of services includes management and operation of on-campus and online bookstores or any combination, including an auto-fill service whereby student orders are picked, packed and shipped without ever visiting a bookstore. Over the years, Ambassador has made significant investments in personnel and technology to achieve clients’ objectives and earn its sterling reputation in the academic and publishing industry. SourceOne is Ambassador’s proprietary technology that enables users to securely place and confirm orders online, upload student and hold lists, use Ambassador’s student retention tools, verify orders, download management reports, confirm account balances, download invoices and statements and more. For more information, visit www.ambassadorbookstores.com.

About Campus Management Corporation (Campus Management)
More than 900 colleges and universities worldwide rely on Campus Management for efficient, scalable and flexible administrative solutions that enhance operational excellence. Rapid implementation, proven user training, and superior support services distinguish Campus Management’s CampusVueâ„¢ administrative suites for higher education. Campus Management’s commitment to continuously evolving its technology has resulted in a vast, long-term enterprise solution capable of millions of daily transactions, providing real-time operational visibility across departments and multiple campuses. For more information, visit www.campusmanagement.com.

The Center for Excellence and Education investing in your school’s future

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Maximizing faculty performance and student retention will help your college keep a competitive edge. In fact, many schools have already realized that routine faculty training and development leads to continued success. Investing in your faculty is investing in your school’s future.
Since its inception, Imagine America Foundation has supported continued education and training opportunities for career college personnel. The IAF has invested in faculty training by sponsoring Gail Benjamin Fellowships. Gail Benjamin Fellowships offer grants to females and underrepresented minorities to attend the annual Career College Association Leadership Institute and the Women’s Leadership Institute.

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