Governor Deval Patrick's Budget Recommendation - House 1 Fiscal Year 2012

Governor's Budget Recommendation FY 2012

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Proprietary Schools

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Governor Patrick    FY2012 House 1 Budget Recommendation:
    Issues in Brief

    Deval L. Patrick, Governor
    Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor



There are over 200 proprietary schools in Massachusetts; for-profit institutions of higher education that provide education towards careers licensed by the Commonwealth. Historically, these schools have been overseen by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE). In fiscal years 2010 and 2011, the Administration, ESE, and Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) have examined the oversight needed for these schools, and determined that DPL, under the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, is more qualified to handle these oversight responsibilities.

Transfer of Oversight

In the fiscal year 2012 budget, Governor Patrick proposes to transfer the oversight of proprietary schools from ESE to DPL. This transfer will allow for an increased enforcement of current Massachusetts regulations, including:

  1. Massachusetts General Law Chapter 255 Section 13K “Personal service contracts between certain schools and students; termination notice provisions required; applicability; violations; penalties.“
  2. Massachusetts 940 CMR 3.10, “Private Home Study, Business, Technological Social Skills and Career Schools Correspondence and Other.”

The transfer will expand the oversight authority of the commonwealth, and DPL will have the ability to impose more significant penalties, suspend licenses and do the investigations necessary to properly oversee these entities.  The ability to increase enforcement of current state laws and regulations will improve consumer protection and the ability of current and future proprietary students to make informed decisions on the career, educational, and financial aspects of attending a for-profit proprietary school.

The transfer will also increase oversight of curriculum provided by proprietary schools focused on academic programs related to career fields currently requiring licensure in the commonwealth of Massachusetts.

This initiative will increase staff at DPL devoted to oversight of proprietary schools in Massachusetts. A new retained revenue account, effective July 1, 2011, will collect fees assessed on proprietary schools and use the funds exclusively for this office and its increased oversight initiatives. The operations of the oversight and the enhanced licensing operation at DPL will be supported by revenues generated from the fees and penalties that these schools pay to the Commonwealth.

What We Heard: How Public Input Impacted the Recommendations

The Patrick-Murray Administration heard from the public though many venues, including direct communication from constituents, advocates and free legal clinics sharing stories of client experiences. This communication was consistent with the current national research that highlights that while proprietary schools provide a valuable education to some constituents, the current environment requires significant reforms in the areas of:

1.      Consumer marketing practices, including acceptance procedures, financial aid counseling, and career placement statistics

2.      Oversight of individual school financial stability

3.      Oversight of curriculum and academic programs provided relative to the skills needed for the careers that are advertised.


This communication from the Massachusetts current and former proprietary school students is consistent with the conversation and examination currently occurring nationally, both at the federal level and in other states. In 2010 and 2011, Michigan, North Carolina, California, New York, and Ohio all proposed legislation to increase oversight of the proprietary school industry at the state level.

Prepared by Molly Bench, Executive Office for Administration and Finance ·
For more information contact: (617) 727-2040

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