AACS Urges Students Not Politics, Congress Must Oppose Misguided Attack on Career Education

Scottsdale, AZ — Today, the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS), which represents over 600 schools across the country, released the following statement from AACS Executive Director Kathy Chow in response to legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) which would make proprietary educational institutions, including cosmetology schools, ineligible for Federal student aid.  A companion version of the so-called “Students Not Profits” legislation has also been introduced in the House by U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).

“All of us share the same goals of protecting students and working to ensure everyone receives the best education and training possible to succeed in their careers.  But to say that this legislation represents a massive overreach by some in Congress would be an understatement.

“It would pull the rug out from underneath the very students they claim to want to protect and who rely on federal aid to learn skills and trades that in many instances are only available at proprietary educational institutions.  In doing so, it would also force school closures across the country and put thousands of teachers and small business owners out of work.  Many cosmetology schools are small, family-owned businesses that take immense pride in the communities and students they serve.

“In today’s economy, students are increasingly choosing career-based educational programs that prepare them for entry into a high-demand field with plentiful job opportunities.  Eliminating a student’s ability to use federal aid at private, tax-paying schools would also disproportionately target lower-income students who are especially dependent on federal sources of aid.

“Employer demand is growing faster than cosmetology schools can produce graduates, with open jobs remaining unfilled.  The beauty industry employs over 1.2 million men and women nationwide and is expected to grow by 13% over the next few years.  Yet, that cannot happen if our country does not have trained, licensed cosmetologists to fill those jobs.  In addition, cosmetology schools have a lower default rate than the for-profit school sector as a whole, highlighting the saliency and value of our industry within the for-profit school sector.

“Our schools are accredited and must meet, and often far exceed, minimum job placement rates to maintain accreditation. Students enter our programs from a wide-range of backgrounds, including Veterans, new citizens, single-mothers and returning students who often juggle a full-time job and schooling.  Those students deserve the same choices and opportunities as those who choose another educational path.

“This is far from sound policy, as it would hurt students, teachers and ultimately every American who uses beauty industry services.  We urge Senators Warren and Brown, as well as U.S. Rep. Jayapal, to reconsider this misguided and overly-broad attack on career education and for their colleagues in Congress to oppose this legislation.   We would also encourage all Members of Congress to visit a cosmetology school in their state to see for themselves the tremendous benefits that they provide to support students and serve as economic engines in local communities.”

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