ATEC delivered a letter to congressional leaders voicing its opposition to The Protect Students Act of 2019 (S.867). Masked rhetorically as a student protection aid, the bill would severely limit proprietary aviation maintenance technician schools from serving students and veterans, and negatively impact aerospace companies looking to hire FAA-certified A&P mechanics and other aviation technical personnel.
"Twenty-three of the 171 FAA-certificated schools are proprietary institutions. While these schools only make up 13% of the AMTS population, they produce 25% of AMTS graduates within the United States—one out of every four aviation maintenance graduates are produced from tax-paying proprietary institutions," said ATEC Executive Director Crystal Maguire in a letter to the bill's co-sponsors. "If enacted, S.867 would threaten the continued viability of these proprietary schools and negatively impact an estimated 1,000 student veterans currently enrolled in these schools."
Historically, the U.S. Government has required many things of proprietary schools that it does not require of public universities, community colleges, or non-profit institutions. One of these requirements is the 90/10 rule, which mandates that proprietary schools derive no more than 90% of their income from Title IV financial aid funding sources (such as Pell Grants and Stafford Loans). The remaining 10% must come from other funding sources such as student payments, family contributions, employer assistance, vocational rehab, Veterans Administration benefits, and the GI Bill.
S.867 seeks to change the 90/10 ratio to 85/15—meaning the 10% of required income from non-Title IV sources would increase to 15%—and recategorize GI Bill benefits as a federal Title IV funding source. If Veterans Benefits were considered Title IV funding, many of our proprietary schools would have to stop taking GI Bill funds to meet the new ratio requirements. Consequently, the military would default on its promise to veterans that they can use their GI Bill at any accredited and approved institution of higher education, and likely school shut downs would cost the aerospace industry a quarter of its mechanic school graduates.
The proposed law comes at a time when the aviation industry is preparing for a massive technical workforce shortage. ATEC’s recent Pipeline Report found that mechanics are retiring faster than they are being replaced; the mechanic population is expected to decrease 5% in the next 15 years. Oliver Wyman, a technical consulting group, forecasts that demand for aviation maintenance technicians will outstrip supply by 2022. The Aeronautical Repair Station Association estimates the technician shortage is costing industry $100 million per month. Meanwhile, forecasts by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Boeing, and Airbus project a need for thousands of additional mechanics in the next 10-20 years.
Get more information on this issue and other ATEC legislative priorities in the council's Legislative Tool Kit.
Stay tuned for updates on everything ATEC members need to know as well as ways that you can help the council and the AMTS community.