Nearly all of Minn.'s colleges pass 'gainful employment' test

Of almost 600 career-training programs in the state, only three failed the so-called "gainful employment" evaluation, a federal test of how well their programs pay off for graduates.

Most Minnesota colleges passed the test today of how well their programs pay off for graduates, except for three programs at Mendota-Heights-based Brown College.

Not enough graduates of Brown's criminal justice, and radio and television programs were repaying student loans. And loan payments for those programs also ate into too much of graduates' income.

Programs that fail the test three out of four years could lose access to federal financial aid beginning in 2015.

Brown President Michele Ernst wrote to MPR that the results do not reflect changes Brown has made to the programs. A statement said changes have been made since the 2008 data was collected.

Tricia Grimes, policy analyst at the state Office of Higher Education, cautions not to read too much into a failing mark.

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"It's an indicator that things might be a problem at the school. But it's not something that should be looked at in isolation."

Grimes says a program might fail partly because of outside factors, such as a weak local economy.

Tom Kosel of the Minnesota Career College Association said he is still satisfied with the state performance.

"I think the results show that Minnesota is strong in its schools," Kosel said. "It's hard to compare nationally, but we feel that the numbers show strength and proper management, and good service to students."