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AACS Government Relations Chairman Responds to Misleading Article “Fine Print of Stimulus Bill Contains Special Deals for Industries” From the New York Times

AACS Government Relations Chairman Responds to Misleading Article “Fine Print of Stimulus Bill Contains Special Deals for Industries” From the New York Times

“This article just gets it wrong!”—Neal R. Heller, Esq.

I am proud to be a University of Miami graduate and to hold a degree in Broadcasting-Journalism from my alma mater. The first thing I learned about ethical journalism is that reporters need to check their facts and report from a neutral viewpoint. They should report facts and not fiction based on personal bias.

N.Y. Times reporter’s Lipton and Vogel are guilty of the worst kind of journalism in this story. Sensational headlines sell, but facts are necessary to inform the public. These two not only contradict themselves with their own words, but they also have the background story completely wrong. For-Profit colleges did not seek nor did they receive any special provisions in the Senate stimulus package. That would be pure fiction. The facts are that all students who attend any type of college, whether For-profit or Not for profit, public or private, were included in a provision of the bill that allows for all colleges to retain federal funds even if the student withdraws for corona-virus related emergencies, with no liability to the student. Lipton and Vogel’s article states these words very clearly but somehow that got twisted into a benefit to For-Profit colleges.

They further exacerbate their fictionalized account by quoting a biased source who is at best misinformed with her agenda. Toby Merrill, the founder of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, somehow distorts the purpose of the bill to claim it would disproportionately help for-profit schools because their dropout rates are higher than other segments of higher ed. If you compare graduation rates at Community colleges vs for-profit Cosmetology schools, you would find that the cosmetology schools graduate their students at a rate at least double that of the community colleges for the same programs. If you compare Community colleges to for-profit colleges of any kind you would find that the for-profit college’s rates of completion outpace those at the community colleges.

Next time Vogel and Lipton want to use a source for higher ed data they should simply go to the best source available, U.S. Department of Education data sites. At a time when our country is facing the largest health crisis of our lifetimes, playing politics with funding for students is a disgrace.

COVID-19 knows no boundary of race, age or economics and therefore, of course, any emergency aid should be equally distributed to all students no matter the tax status of the institution they chose. Lipton and Vogel state that all colleges will be able to keep federal loan money from students who drop out because of the Coronavirus. However, the premise of the article about this matter is clearly to somehow disparage for-profit institutions as the Times has been doing for many years.

It would behoove Lipton and Vogel to remember the basic tenets of journalism. If they want to espouse their opinions, then write an editorial. Otherwise, it’s, Who, What, Where, When and Why. I believe we learned that in Journalism 101.

Neal Heller, ESQ

Neal R. Heller, Esq.
AACS Director/Government Relations Committee Chair

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The first week of the June finds only 14 state legislatures actively meeting. Recent and upcoming legislative adjournments include Louisiana on June 3 and New York on June 6. 

Another four states – Arizona, Delaware, New Hampshire and Rhode Island – will be adjourning their respective 2024 legislative sessions at the end of the month.

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