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California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools

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Another View: Apply same Cal Grant standards to all colleges


The Sacramento Bee - July 15, 2012 -by John Zimmerman

John Zimmerman, president of MTI College in Sacramento, is responding to the June 28 editorial "A smart move to save money on Cal Grants / For-profit private schools take hit." The editorial about the Legislature's plans to cut more than $1 million from Cal Grants said that "at least the governor and Legislature are going about it in a way that wrings most of the savings from for-profit private schools with the worst graduation and loan repayment rates."

The for-profit junior college where I work has participated in the Cal Grant program for more than 30 years. Our graduates enter the Sacramento area workforce as paralegals, administrative assistants, health care professionals, computer technicians and cosmetologists. Our students are determined and brave in that most are less than affluent and are taking on debt to complete their studies. Their goals are the same; they want a good job with meaningful career opportunities.

Those championing the changes to the Cal Grant program argue it is all about accountability and say sensible standards are long overdue.

We at MTI College couldn't agree more but believe these standards should be applied to all colleges regardless of their tax status.

Facts are stubborn things, and the facts are that more than 70 percent of MTI's students complete their educational objective; more than 90 percent of MTI's graduates obtain training-related employment; MTI's graduate licensure and certification test scores are consistently in the top 10 percent for all applicants; and the first official three-year student loan default rate being released this September for MTI College will be less than 15 percent.

But still some say for-profit colleges are a scam and take advantage of students. Have these people ever visited a college like MTI?

These same people want to talk about the sins of the for-profit bad apples and take pleasure in painting the entire sector with these sins. What these critics fail to note is that a great number of California's traditional colleges would be in serious trouble if they had to comply with the same regulations currently imposed on for-profit colleges.

Colleges like MTI have been operating in our community for decades; something must be good about them as thousands are drawn to them because the traditional postsecondary choices are not meeting their needs.

MTI College has been accountable to its students as the alternative consequence is failure.

What are the consequences for the traditional nonprofit and public colleges when their students fail? It seems no one is speaking about this.

Yes, the bad apple for-profits are easier targets and lack the powerful faculty unions that can rally their Capitol friends in order to avoid the heavy hand of accountability. Accountability not just to their students but also to the taxpayers who until recently were ever so generous with their support for the public institutions of higher learning in California.