New bill requires disclosures to students

Members of the House Education Committee on Tuesday voted unanimously to introduce a new bill aimed at bringing more transparency to Idaho’s proprietary schools.

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Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise

Freshmen Democratic Reps. John Gannon and Hy Kloc of Boise sponsored the bill, which they said applies to private institutions that offer courses but not degrees.

The Idaho State Board of Education’s website provides a list of private proprietary schools, which include dental, message therapy, computer training and general business schools, among others.

Under the bill, such institutions must provide to students several pieces of information “at least 30 days before any student enters into any contract or biding agreement” with the school.

The required information includes:

  • The name of the course of study and the time required for completion.
  • The cost of the course and estimates for books and any related costs.
  • The length of time the course has been offered.
  • The number of students enrolled in and completing the course.
  • And, the number of students who completed the course who have full-time jobs within the field of study.
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Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise

If the information is not provided in writing to students, the bill would allow students to receive a full refund on the course.

“This is a disclosure bill, this is not a punitive bill,” Gannon said after testifying that the default rate on student loans is about 25 percent.

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Later in the same meeting, committee members also voted to introduce a new bill pushed by Idaho State Department of Education Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Hancock. That bill makes a change to the rounding formula used to calculate support units. If adopted, that bill would calculate support units by rounding to the nearest hundredth, not the nearest tenth.

Both bills were introduced on the 65th day of the legislative session, a late point given the March 29 target for adjournment.

House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, said those new bills are among the final pieces of new legislation the committee will introduce this year.

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Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle

“I promise we really are getting close to printing everything that should be printed,” DeMordaunt said. “There may be one or two (more bills) I hear may be coming, but that is just about it.”