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Many For-profit Colleges Excluded from Law

FRANKFORT Ky. — Lawmakers say new legislation that created an oversight agency aimed at protecting students of for-profit colleges doesn’t apply to many of the schools.

State Reps. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, and Carl Rollins, D-Midway, told The Courier-Journal that they thought the law would apply to at least some programs at all for-profit colleges. They say they want to bring the legislation up again at the next General Assembly.

Keene said they worked with college representatives on the legislation and they think the issue was mistakenly overlooked. Part of the bill required for-profit colleges to pay fees to fund the new agency called the Commission on Proprietary Education.

Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Joe Meyer said if the situation isn’t rectified, there won’t be enough funding to pay for the staff of the new agency.

The law came about due to the proliferation of proprietary colleges popping up around the state and questions about how they operate. Attorney General Jack Conway has sued Daymar College, the National College of Kentucky Inc. and Brown Mackie College, claiming they have violated consumer-protection laws to boost enrollment and profits.

All three have denied wrongdoing.

The law was supposed to require the schools to pay into a $500,000 fund that would be used to pay back students if schools close or lose accreditation.

However, it exempts colleges that offer bachelor’s degrees and all programs in those colleges, which leaves about 1,300 programs at 41 campuses under the purview of the Council on Postsecondary Education instead of under the new panel.

“I’m somewhat surprised that Dennis Keene, who has supposedly studied this issue pretty closely, didn’t realize how the law reads,” Conway said.

Keene said he thought all proprietary schools would fall under the new commission.

Rollins said he realized that bachelor’s degree programs would come under the discretion of the Council on Postsecondary Education, but thought other programs at the schools would be under the Commission of Proprietary Education.

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