SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Lawmakers are looking at ways to protect New Mexico students from for-profit colleges and tech schools. The lawmakers behind the bill said some students might borrow money for a tech school program they think will earn them a certificate or a professional license. Instead, they’re left high and dry.
“We heard in hearing today of a law student who did an online law program and he did not know the program was not accredited, and therefore he’s not allowed to practice law in the state of New Mexico,” said Rep. Christine Chandler, (D) Los Alamos. “Those are the kinds of abuses we’re trying to address with this bill.”
House Bill 17 would make sure private online universities and for-profit colleges explain to students the overall cost of tuition and let them know about the program’s accreditation before they enroll. For the most part, it’s received bipartisan support. One Republican called it a “consumer protection bill.”
“It wants to put some arms around what some private post-secondary institutions do in terms of disclosing to their students, some of the expectations of what they provide and what that student can expect once they’ve finished their certificate program,” said Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, (R) Los Lunas.
The bill passed the House Education Committee; only one lawmaker voted against it.
Years ago, ATI Career Training in Albuquerque left more than 100 students in debt and without certificates when they closed their doors. The Higher Education Department was able to step in and help them transfer to other career tech schools.