Education Secretary Duncan responds to eSchool News readers

5.  “Why is it allowable for students attending for-profit colleges to obtain funds to pay for their education when they can obtain the same education at a community college for a fourth of the cost? Many students run out of money after one semester, and many of those so-called earned credits do not even transfer to the nonprofit community college.” —Diane R. Ahlberg, College and Career Specialist, Global Career Development Facilitator, Park Center Senior High School

Duncan: “Thank you for this question, Diane. I think it is important to give students choices, and I support our federal student loan system that allows borrowers to choose their college or university. Students often have very different reasons for selecting a particular institution. Some base their decision on the type of programs available, the distance from their home, the ability to attend on their schedule, price, or other factors.

There are many career college programs that meet students’ needs. Though many provide students with very specific credentials, I am concerned that there are some programs that are not providing good value for students. Some are quite simply leaving their students with unmanageable debt burdens and poor employment prospects.

Because of these concerns, the Department has worked for over a year to develop a new set of regulations that would make schools ineligible for federal student aid if they aren’t preparing students to succeed in the workplace. Federal student loans are an important way for individuals to afford a postsecondary program that best serves their needs and prepares them to be competitive in the global workforce. But if one of those programs is truly not serving students well and is leaving them with unmanageable debt burdens and poor employment prospects, then it is our responsibility to protect our significant federal investment in higher education.

It is important for students to be able to find gainful employment after earning a degree, because after hitting the books, the loan payment books begin to hit back.”

Meris Stansbury

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