ARLINGTON, VA — The American Consumer Institute (ACI) releases a statement concerning the fair treatment of Florida Career College.

ACI has a record of standing in support of nontraditional and career institutions of higher education because they play an important role in the education ecosystem. In fact, our own research has found that proprietary and trade schools provide educational and economic opportunities to students who might otherwise be left behind. That is why we are increasingly concerned by the Education Department’s continued unfair treatment of these schools – most recently by withholding funding from the Florida Career College (FCC).

I have emphasized in previous blogs that the Department of Education exists to ensure that all Americans have access to quality education and that mission demands a system that provides a diverse array of options for learners of all types with the understanding that American students have different education needs, expectations, and abilities. Our research found that these schools disproportionately serve minority and older students whose academic background might not make them a good fit for more traditional colleges.

The Education Department’s action to block FCC students from receiving federal student aid is just the latest example of the department making unilateral decisions that could force schools to close without due process, leaving students and uncertain futures in their wake. By withholding funding long before the legal process concludes, the DOE could force FCC to close its doors on students and employees. This is not just an alarmist warning. In 2021, the DOE improperly withheld federal student aid from the Center for Excellence in Higher Education’s colleges for allegations that were ultimately overturned, but only after schools had been forced to close.

It must be made clear – ACI supports transparency and accountability measures to reform education.  If the FCC is found to have not acted in the best interest of its students, it should be held accountable, but only through a fair process.  The harming of consumer welfare is something that the American Consumer Institute firmly stands to protect. The Education Department’s track record and latest action against the action of stripping the financial aid of thousands of FCC students as they seek to gain an education to better their lives is cause for concern.