Students Rally For Their Education Rights

Oct 1, 2010

John Suit, a graduate of Virginia College in Huntsville, Alabama, speaks with a reporter during a student rally on behalf private-sector educational choices in Washington, DC,.

Crowd Tells Congress, "It's My Education. My Job. My Choice."

Washington, DC -- A crowd of over two thousand students from private sector colleges and universities (PSCUs) across the country converged on Capitol Hill today to demand that Washington allow them to make their own educational choices. The first ever rally of students attending career-oriented PSCUs sought to set the record straight about the high value of private-sector education and the ability of students to have access to this education. Among them were several graduates and students from Virginia College.

"With 26 states represented, private sector college and university students and graduates made their voice heard today," said Harris N. Miller, President of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU). "Their message to Washington is clear: jobs, education and choice. In these tough economic times, let's not adopt public policies that get in the way."

Miller said that in addition to students, many people in business, academia, local and state government are concerned about the current negative environment in Washington regarding private-sector colleges and universities. Some 90,000 sent comments to the Department of Education on its "gainful employment" proposed rule, the vast majority opposed. The Department recently announced that it would delay publication of its rule.

If adopted in its current form, the rule would create a debt-to-income ratio for determining program eligibility in Title IV student aid programs. As written the ratio would penalize institutions offering more expensive to operate programs and effectively bar students from access to those programs. Although a few short course programs at public schools are also included, the proposed regulation effectively singles out programs offered by private sector colleges and universities, thereby limiting choice and diminishing the value of this postsecondary education for graduates. The Department said it will issue a final rule in early 2011.

Although students and graduates have busy schedules, including family and work obligations, Miller and others applauded their willingness to take time out and show their support for the education that they have earned and its contribution to their long-term career success.

"We were proud our students were willing and able to go to Washington and tell their success stories," says Tom Moore, CEO of Education Corporation of America, the parent company for Virginia College. "It is crucial that Congress and the Department of Education hear what is happening with schools like ours that are meeting the needs of our students and the employers who hire them at a time when traditional education is unable to do so."

Other speakers at the Student Rally were: Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Rep. Brett Guthrie, (R-KY), Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Dr. Art Keiser, Chancellor of Keiser University and APSCU Board Chairman, Dawn Connor, President of Students for Academic Choice and rally co-sponsor. The Rally took place on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.

"Whether the issue is gainful employment or anything else, Washington should not make policy by anecdote or laws that will make it harder for working people to get the skills they need, the jobs they seek, and the economic opportunities that build careers, families and communities," Miller said.