July 15, 2012 11:54 pm
The Pennsylvania Association of Private School Administrators shares your concerns about student loan debt (“Lessons in Debt,” July 2 editorial). However, we must take issue with your singling out of for-profit colleges as “underplayers” of debt.
In fact, members of PAPSA have been working for more than four years to limit student debt. what schools have found is that overborrowing is a big part of the loan debt problem, especially among unsophisticated borrowers. unfortunately, overborrowing is increasing despite aggressive loan counseling. We've tried without success to warn members of Congress, the Department of Education and others of the problem.
Schools constantly report stories of students asking for all the financial aid they are entitled to, paying their tuition and then walking away with thousands of dollars, which ends up paying for a newer car, Christmas presents, plastic surgery, bail money or big parties which the school usually ends up hearing about. These cash stipends can be, in one case, as high as $24,000 for an associate degree. Despite the best efforts of schools to curb overborrowing, the U.S. Department of Education mandates that schools must disclose to students all the loan money they are entitled to borrow. how can schools be responsible for repayment when the U.S. Department of Education encourages irresponsible overborrowing?
Schools that are operating outside federal regulations should be dealt with appropriately. However, we believe that the horror stories you may be referring to represent a minuscule portion of our sector. furthermore, the vast majority of career schools, especially those in Pennsylvania, provide quality education to students who might not otherwise seek postsecondary education opportunities. Career colleges and schools provide higher graduation and job-placement rates than comparable not-for-profit schools.
PAPSA represents the more than 300 for-profit career schools, colleges and universities in the commonwealth.
JIM BUTTERMOREDirectorNew Castle School of TradesNew Castle
The writer is vice president of the Pennsylvania Association of Private School Administrators.
First Published July 16, 2012 12:00 am