TAMPA BAY TIMES: Florida House kills bill aimed at low-performing for-profit colleges

Career College Central Summary:

  • A proposal to suspend the licenses of for-profit colleges whose students have high numbers of loan defaults died despite bipartisan support in the Senate.
  • Florida lawmakers have rejected a proposal that would have cracked down on the worst-performing for-profit colleges by suspending their licenses to operate and kicking them out of state financial aid programs.
  • The proposal, which had bipartisan support in the Senate, could never get anywhere in the Florida House. The Republican leadership in the House ignored the bill during the regular legislative session — failing to give it a single committee hearing.
  • During the current special session focused on budget issues, Senate leaders again brought up the proposal. House leadership shot it down.
  • A recent Miami Herald series, Higher-Ed Hustle, documented problems with lax oversight of Florida's for-profit colleges, which enroll nearly one in five of the state's college students. Florida's oversight agency is controlled by for-profit college executives, and state lawmakers have passed at least 15 laws to help the industry while receiving more than $1.2 million in political contributions.
  • Rep. Erik Fresen, chairman of the House education appropriations subcommittee, said the for-profit measure was rejected on Monday because it didn't belong in negotiations over the state budget. In a text message exchange with the Herald, Fresen said the Senate has repeatedly tried to change state policies during the special session by sticking them in the budget bill.
  • "We consistently opposed them all," wrote Fresen, a Miami Republican.
  • The proposed accountability rules would have cut off state financial aid funds to schools with federal student loan default rates above 30 percent for three consecutive years, or above 40 percent for a single year. Schools with these high default rates would have also had their state licenses suspended — effectively putting them out of business. A Senate analysis of the proposal predicted it would impact "a very small number" of for-profit schools.

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