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Education Department cuts off Florida for-profit college’s access to federal student aid

Education Department cuts off Florida for-profit college’s access to federal student aid

Higher Ed Dive

Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
April 11, 2023
Dive Brief:
  • The U.S. Department of Education said Tuesday it is cutting off a Florida for-profit college from participating in federal student aid programs, denying it key revenue without which it may not survive.
  • Florida Career College, or FCC, improperly allowed students without a high school diploma or equivalent credential to test into eligibility for federal aid, the Education Department said. The agency accused proctors who administered the exams — known as Ability-to-Benefit, or ATB, tests — of manipulating the results for the college, “including by filling in or changing answers after students finished their tests, helping students during testing or taking tests for them, and permitting students to use calculators in violation of testing rules.”
  • To minimize disruptions to FCC students, the Education Department will allow them to continue using federal aid through September if the institution meets certain conditions, like developing transfer agreements with other colleges. If FCC opts not to take this route, it will lose access to federal aid at the end of April.
Dive Insight:
Denying Florida Career College student aid represents one of the most significant enforcement actions the Office of Federal Student Aid, or FSA, has ever taken. It matches the Biden administration’s stated goals of holding poorly performing colleges — namely for-profits — accountable.
FSA periodically rejects colleges from participating in student aid programs. However, rarely has it denied financial aid access to such a large institution. As of late 2022, FCC enrolled about 5,000 students in short-term programs, according to the Education Department, across a dozen campuses in Florida and Texas.
Joe Cockrell, a spokesperson for the college, said in an emailed statement that the Education Department’s decision is “myopic and misguided.”
The department “risks harming thousands of students seeking economic stability and a better life,” Cockrell said.
“For more than 40 years, our singular focus has been quality career training programs that meet or exceed all state and Federal regulations so that people can find a good job in their chosen career path,” he said. “We intend to fight this unjust and inequitable decision vigorously on behalf of our students and the communities we serve.”
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