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    Letters | HIGHER ED, LOWERED EXPECTATIONS

    For-profit colleges seek larger debate on overall system

    Your story on private-sector colleges and universities failed to highlight the need for a larger conversation about the very nature of higher education (“A costly lesson,” Business, May 15).

    Private-sector colleges and universities provide students with access to career-focused education and in-demand skills training that they otherwise would not receive due to selective admissions policies and lack of available courses at public and private institutions.

    The vast majority of our students are nontraditional, meaning that they are over 25, have no financial support from parents, work full time or part time, or are single parents. As a result, 94 percent of our students are eligible for Title IV funding, compared to the 70 percent of students attending private institutions and 49 percent at public institutions.

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    We strongly agree that student loan debt needs to be addressed. We have proposed, as part of reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, a simpler and easier way to navigate the federal student aid system. This system would start by standardizing terms and delivery of aid, improving repayment options that ease financial burdens, and recognizing individual student circumstances.

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    We hope to find a way to work together with leaders in higher education to better serve all students. In the meantime, we continue to strive for new procedures that address accountability and transparency and focus on outcomes not just at our schools but in all of higher education.

    Steve Gunderson

    President and CEO

    The Association of

    Private Sector Colleges

    and Universities

    Washington