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Report 94-15: Comments at Public Forums Regarding the Commission's State Postsecondary Review Entity (SPRE) Program and Its Draft Standards, with Staff Responses: A Staff Report to the Commission's Ad Hoc Committee on Federal Programs

Published by The California Postsecondary Education Commission

October 1994

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In the mid- to late-1980s, increasing numbers of postsecondary students across the nation sought financial aid from a variety of federal student aid programs to finance their studies beyond high school. Many of them obtained low-interest educational loans guaranteed by the federal government, but this "boom" in student loans was followed shortly by a billion-dollar "bust" in annual unpaid or defaulted student loans. Growing ranks of disgruntled student-loan borrowers testified before various Congressional committees about their institutions -- mostly trade schools -- that either offered programs of questionable educational value or even closed before providing the promised education and training.

Congress and the U.S. Department of Education took corrective action, such as denying those schools with particularly high student-loan default rates access to some federal educational loan programs. Then in the 1992 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, Congress created the "State Postsecondary Review Entity" (SPRE) Program, whereby each state would either designate an entity to review postsecondary institutions participating in federal financial aid programs in order to prevent fraud and abuse in those programs - or else risk having only provisional approval granted to those institutions seeking initial participation in federal Title IV student aid programs and the loss of eligibility for all institutions to participate in some of these programs. Congress set aside federal money for the new program and elected to include all segments of postsecondary education -- public, independent, proprietary, vocational, professional, academic, accredited, or state-licensed -- under its provisions.

In July 1993, Governor Wilson designated the California Postsecondary Education Commission as California's SPRE and directed that it begin planning for implementation of the new program. The staff of the Commission began drafting review standards for use in California and, beginning in November, met numerous times with a SPRE advisory committee about these draft standards and related issues. In May 1994, the Commission conducted six public forums throughout the State to take public comment on its draft standards. More than 80 representatives from postsecondary institutions and other interested parties gave written and oral testimony at the forums and during the accompanying public comment period. This document summaries the primary comments received during that time and contains the staff responses to the points they raised.

The Commission adopted the standards that resulted from this consultative process at its meeting on October 24, 1994, and published them as Commission Report 94-15.

Related Topics: Commission Operations | State and Federal Legislation

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