Submitted by Paul Fain on September 30, 2016 - 3:00am
Regency Beauty Institute closed all 79 of its campuses this week, the for-profit chain announced on its website. The Minnesota-based Regency apologized to students for the "abrupt nature" of the news.
The beauty school chain had been struggling with sagging enrollments and losing millions of dollars in recent years, reported the Star-Tribune. And the chain's owner told the newspaper that gainful employment regulations -- new federal rules aimed at for-profit and other vocational programs -- threatened Regency's access to federal financial aid.
"In short, the organization does not have the cash to continue to run the business. There are multiple intertwined reasons: declining numbers of cosmetology students nationwide, a negative characterization of for-profit education by regulators and politicians that continues to worsen, and, in light of these factors, an inability to obtain continued financing," the company said. "This is not another case of a school being forced to shut down because it was accused of wrongdoing. We held ourselves to high educational and ethical standards."
Submitted by Paul Fain on September 26, 2016 - 3:00am
Military and veteran students who attend colleges that are accredited by the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) should be able to continue receiving Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to attend those institutions, at least for another 18 months.
The U.S. Department of Education last week said it would back a federal panel's decision to eliminate ACICS, a national accreditor that oversees 245 colleges that collectively enroll roughly 600,000 students. The accreditor also is the gatekeeper for federal aid at 700 GI Bill-approved programs, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said last week in an email to students who are enrolled in those programs. However, the U.S. Congress has passed legislation to allow GI Bill recipients to continue attending ACICS-accredited colleges. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation.
"At this point nothing changes for you for at least the next 18 months," said Curtis Coy, deputy under secretary for economic opportunity at the VA, in the email to students. "We would, however, suggest you may want to re-evaluate your educational goals and decide that your current school and program will either meet your need for the next 18 months or that you may want to consider other options, courses and/or schools."
Students left befuddled and stranded by college closures will have access to a new online resource meant to connect them with financial aid and academic counselors, said Ted Mitchell, the U.S. under secretary of education, in a call with reporters Monday. The announcement for the portal, NextStepsEdu.org, came two weeks after ITT Tech announced it was shutting down, which forced more than 30,000 students to scramble and decide whether to attempt to transfer or to have their federal loans forgiven. The web portal is a joint effort between the department, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and Beyond 12, an organization that connects students seeking higher education with resources to help them succeed.
A new study co-authored by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the State University of New York at Buffalo finds that the streamlined curriculum at for-profit institutions is the reason many poor students -- particularly young African-Americans -- drop out.
The researchers studied 150 low-income black students from Baltimore and found those who attended for-profit institutions ended up in more debt and with fewer job opportunities than they might have had had they attended nonprofit two- or four-year institutions.
"The quick jump into for-profit schools really precludes other options that might be less costly and have a bigger return," said Stefanie DeLuca, an associate professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins and co-author of the report. "These young people are vulnerable to the flashy ads for these schools and lured in by how quickly they could get jobs."
Most of the young people in the study -- 53 percent -- pursued occupational certification at for-profit trade institutions. That certification is offered in fields like cosmetology, computer networking, auto mechanics and phlebotomy. The researchers found that for-profit institutions appealed to these students because of their desire to get to work quickly. These students also received little to no career counseling in high school and so they relied heavily on information heard during TV commercials.
Of the students who enrolled in a for-profit college, 31 percent earned certification by the time the study ended. Those students who chose for-profit colleges collected more debt and their loan default rates were higher than those who attended community colleges.
More than 20 Senate Democrats have signed a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education John King asking the Education Department to support former ITT Technical Institute students by discharging their student loans.
In the letter, the senators asked the department to extend the 120-day window that allows students who withdraw before an institution's closure to receive a discharge. This would accommodate those students who withdrew from ITT Tech after March 1, 2014, prior to the launch of a number of federal and state lawsuits.
The senators also requested that the department stop collections on the loans of recent ITT borrowers who are in default and prevent or retract any negative credit bureau reporting for ITT students eligible for discharge. They also asked the department to apply proposed borrower-defense rule-making provisions related to automatic discharge to ITT students.
"These provisions ensure that borrowers who do not enroll at another school within three years of closure, and who otherwise qualify for a closed school discharge, see their federal debt eliminated even if they do not submit a formal application," says to the letter.
The letter follows on the heels of ITT Tech students launching a debt strike earlier this week to request that their loans be automatically discharged.
Former ITT Technical Institute students, who learned last week that their campuses would be closing, began a debt strike Wednesday and demanded that the U.S. Department of Education cancel their student loans and close all for-profit colleges.
The strike was organized by The Debt Collective, a group that claims more than 1,000 ITT students have submitted defense-to-repayment applications asking for a closed-school loan discharge.
"We refuse to pay our government-issued student loans. We do not owe them. In fact, you owe us and our fellow ITT borrowers. By striking our debts we begin to collect on your obligation to erase them," the group stated in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. and President Obama.
Meanwhile, ITT Educational Services, the parent company of ITT, says it will cease all operations this Friday. ITT had cut back its operations to about 200 employees from 8,000 following the announcement to close.