Thomas Edison College President: Proposed Higher Education Regulations are Irrational

Educating students and preparing them for the 21st Century economy could be in for changes, new limits are being proposed for Pell Grants and student loans. Thomas Edison State College President Dr. George Pruitt told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that some of the regulations being proposed are not rational.

“I was really concerned about some very troubling regulations that are being proposed that will stifle elevation and drive up cost and really hamper the quality delivery of our education. This particular hearing was about innovation, regulation, and accountability. There’s a lot in the news now about proposed budget changes that would limit financial aid,” said Pruitt.

Pruitt said that the problem is that higher education has changed and evolved. He said that most people think of college as something that an 18-year-old does when they graduate high school and go to college full-time for four years and then start their careers and that was the experience most in people Congress and the regulators had. He said that the fact of the matter is that’s only 40 percent of the people in higher education today.

The majority of higher education is nontraditional, said Pruitt. Most people enrolled in higher education today are over 25 and go part time, said Pruitt. He said that when you take that reality and you try to come up with metrics like graduation rates, the average adult takes nine years to finish college part time and they have to balance that between their careers and families too. He said that some of the rules being proposed really distort that reality

“The State Authorization Rule is really troubling and it says that if a student is in a state taking an online course, the institution that they are taking the course from has to be licensed in that state. So if there are three students in Utah taking an online course from Rutgers or Montclair then this institutions would have to be licensed in Utah. One institution that just went through a 50 state licensing regiment had cost them over $1 million just in compliance with the rule. It’s not rational,” said Pruitt.

Pruitt said that the regulators explained the reasoning behind the rule by saying there have been abuses of online education and they are angry at the proprietaries. Pruitt said that in every sector of education there are institutions that exercise good practice and institutions that don’t and there have been some abuses in the proprietaries and it does need to get looked at. He said there are also some very good proprietaries that do very good work and provide good value for their education and the irony of this is that if you are going after the proprietaries for this, pretty much every proprietary school that Pruitt said he knows of is already licensed in every state in which they do business.

“I have never seen anything like this. These regulation are down right destructive. They will stifle innovation, they will drive up cost, they kill the ability to serve temporary students and they add no value. That’s why a couple of months ago every President in the state of New Jersey signed a letter endorsing The American Console on Education opposition to these rules. We hope the department will listen but candidly the Department of Education has not shown willingness to listen to these kinds of concerns and that is why we have been going to the Congress to try to provide some reason to this matter,” said Pruitt.