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Proprietary Schools' Student Aid Studied

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Washington--Although the nation's proprietary schools--which prepare young people for a wide variety of skilled jobs--enroll a higher proportion of disadvantaged students than do other sectors of the postsecondary-education system, a lower proportion of the schools' students receive financial aid than do students at private colleges and universities.

That was one finding of a study on the status of financial aid of proprietary-school students released here last week by the National Commission on Student Financial Aid.

The study says that a typical student attending a proprietary school has to pay $2,160 in "unmet need" after a financial-aid package of grants, loans, work-study, parental contributions, and student earnings has been determined by the school's financial-aid office. The amount of unmet need amounts to about 29 percent of the student's education-related costs, according to the study.

By contrast, the amount of unmet need shouldered by students attending public four-year colleges is only about $1,488 (or 24 percent of the cost of education), and students in private colleges face an unmet need of $1,447 (or 18 percent of the total cost of education), the study notes.

Proprietary schools make up nearly two-thirds of all postsecondary institutions and enroll three-quarters of all postsecondary vocational-education students. There are about 6,000 proprietary institutions nationwide.

The study, Proprietary Vocational Schools and Federal Student Aid: Opportunities for the Disadvan-taged, was conducted for the financial-aid group by Wellford W. Wilms, professor of education at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The study is based on a survey of 277 proprietary schools accredited by the Association of Independent Colleges and Schools, the National Association of Trade and Technical Schools, and the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences.

On the average, 38 percent of the cosmetology students, 50 percent of the trade and technical students, and 57 percent of the aics students receive financial aid, the study notes. This compares with 31 percent of students at traditional four-year public colleges and 57 percent of students at traditional four-year private colleges who receive financial assistance.

The study notes several major differences between proprietary and the more traditional postsecondary institutions:

Proprietary institutions award assistance to a larger percentage of minority students, according to the study. Some 54 percent of the recipients are minority students, compared with 16 percent at private institutions and 35 percent at public institutions.

While 56 percent of those receiving financial assistance in proprietary institutions have family incomes of under $6,000, only 18 percent and 41 percent of the aid recipients at independent and public colleges, respectively, have family incomes of under $6,000, according to the study.

Some 54 percent of those receiv-ing aid at proprietary schools receive no parental support. Only 13 percent of the recipients at private institutions and 39 percent of the recipients at public institutions are without parental support.

The results of the Wilms survey of proprietary institutions were compared with the results of two studies: a 1982 analysis of financial-aid trends among private colleges and universities conducted by Virginia Hodgkinson and Julianne Still Thrift for the National Institute of Independent Schools, and a study of public colleges conducted by Jacob A. Stampen for the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges.

"Students who choose to be prepared for a vocation in a proprietary institution face few financial alternatives because of the limited availability of campus-based, state, and institutional funds," the study says.

"The students must 'dig deeper' into savings, work in part-time jobs, or sacrifice financially to a much greater degree than those enrolled in other more traditional sectors of postsecondary education."

"If all students are to have access to the institutions of postsecondary education which best meet their needs, talents, and motivations, these apparent inequities must be dealt with in a thorough reconsideration of the federal policies of financial aid," the study concludes.

The financial-aid commission plans to carry out a second study examining the extent to which proprietary-school students are excluded from the government's Guaranteed Student Loan Program.

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