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 Response to WSJ Editorial: Community Colleges Respond to Needs of ITT Tech Students 

9/13/2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                       
September 13, 2016                                     
Media Contact: Martha Parham, Ed.D.
Phone: (202) 728-0200 x209
E-mail: mparham@aacc.nche.edu

Washington, DC—On behalf of the nation’s 1,108 community colleges, we would like to respond to the Wall Street Journal’s article dated Sept. 9, 2016, entitled “For-Profit Government.” 

It is true that many community colleges are reaching out to the 40,000 students displaced by the closure of ITT Technical Institute.  They are doing so in an effort to salvage, as much as possible, the time, effort and financial resources these students have invested in their education.  It would allow students to attend regionally accredited institutions and get their lives back on track.

Community colleges serve 12.3 million students each year.  If every student displaced by ITT Technical Institute were to attend a community college, that would constitute an increase of .3 percent of the student population. This hardly qualifies as the fiscal “boost in federal aid” you claim the colleges are attempting to “cash in” on.  It is the owners of for-profit colleges that reap direct benefits from enrolling more students. Increased enrollments at community colleges have no impact on anyone’s compensation.

By design, community colleges are responsive to the needs of their local communities.  This was true when they welcomed students from the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges and it will be true for future students, regardless of where they come from.  We take pride in our commitment to open access for all Americans who are willing to work hard and benefit from higher education.  Our colleges serve nearly half (45 percent) of all undergraduates in the United States and serve the majority of underrepresented students—including minorities and first-generation college students. 

The editorial makes misleading, fundamentally inaccurate comparisons between ITT institutions and community colleges. We are disappointed that you would impugn the motives of colleges simply trying to help some unfortunate former students now finding themselves in a very difficult situation.  

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As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) delivers educational and economic opportunity for more than 12 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support they need to deliver on the mission of increasing economic mobility for all.

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