Governor Deval Patrick recently signed House Bill (HB) 3625 to increase oversight of for-profit or “proprietary” occupational schools in Massachusetts. The law shifts responsibility for regulating the industry from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to a new Office of Private Occupational School Education within the Division of Professional Licensure of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. HB 3625 also removes a cap on the security that may be required of schools to ensure that students receive tuition refunds if a school suddenly closes.
Each year in Massachusetts, approximately 45,000 students pursue training through nearly 300 proprietary schools for careers in medical, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, computer technology and other fields. HB 3625 was inspired by reports of abusive practices by some of those schools.
“People turn to these schools because they are looking to better their lives. A select group of predatory schools, however, leave these students with nothing but crushing debt,” said Massachusetts Representative Tom Sannicandro. “The changes made in this law will protect consumers of occupational school without putting an onerous burden on those schools that are providing legitimate and important services.”
“I am proud to sign this legislation that will increase protections for students and streamline oversight of institutions that are vital to workforce development and job training,” said Governor Patrick.
Reaction. “In working with our program participants who are struggling to overcome oppressive student loan debt as a result of attending for-profit occupational schools, Crittenton Women’s Union (CWU) became aware of the need for better oversight of the industry,” said Ruthie Liberman, CWU Vice President of Public Policy. “This legislation will better protect students and ensure for-profit occupational schools adhere to fair business practices.”