The American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) represents more than 600 beauty and wellness schools across the country that educate students for occupations in cosmetology, skincare, and massage therapy. AACS is deeply troubled that Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to Secretary Betsy DeVos on April 7th advocating for the exclusion of students attending for-profit, postsecondary institutions from receiving any Higher Education Relief Fund emergency aid in the CARES Act.
The Senators’ reading of the CARES Act is flawed and is not in accord with congressional intent. The emergency funding being appropriated to colleges and universities is to mitigate the financial hardship on students and institutions as a result of the coronavirus, and at least 50% of any funds received by an institution must go directly to student grants for food, housing, equipment and other expenses. Despite the assertions in the letter, the CARES Act builds-in proper protections to ensure that all institutions – of whatever type – use the funds toward addressing student need first, and then limits use of remaining funds for costs associated with transitioning to distance education. Further, institutions that were fully online before the pandemic are excluded from any aid.
“At a time when our country is standing together, helping our neighbors and those in need, it is sad that some lawmakers choose to play politics with student emergency aid,” stated Michael Halmon, Chairman of AACS, and school owner. “The thought of students being excluded from protections during this time based on the tax status of their institution is painful to the hundreds of thousands of students who are enrolled in career colleges across this country. We are asking that Secretary DeVos not placate those members of Congress who are advocating to leave students out of this economic relief.”
“The lawmakers in our country seem to be forgetting that a large portion of our trained front-line medical personnel: medical assistants, nurses, sonographers, and respiratory therapists, are trained in career colleges and that many of our graduates are now on the front lines of this battle. Some states are asking students to get involved where they can, even before they graduate; the need for their services is so great,” stated Neal Heller, Government Relations Chairman of AACS and school owner “These are the very same students Senators Warren and Durbin would like to leave out of the economic relief plan. Democrats must be called out by their colleagues for not standing behind those that are so important to our country during this health crisis. We should be above politicized ideology and shortsightedness when it comes to life and death.”
Mr. Heller concluded, “We are proud of our students and graduates and what we do and the education and career preparation we provide them to professionally and safely serve the public.” The funding that Congress has appropriated will allow our students to continue and finish their programs. America will sorely be in need of trained beauty and wellness service providers when this pandemic is over and that day cannot come too soon for all of us.”
AACS is reaching out directly to Secretary DeVos to urge her not to give serious consideration to the misguided request.
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