2-Pronged Strategy Against 'Gainful' Rule

"When the Department of Education gathered comments this summer ahead of an overhaul of its gainful-employment rule, it heard a litany of familiar refrains from representatives of the for-profit college sector," Inside Higher Ed reports.

"They argued that the rule, which holds career programs accountable for graduating students with debt they can’t repay, should apply to all programs regardless of tax status, that it should reflect long-term earnings, and in some cases that it should not be tied to federal aid.

Whether the department crafts a new gainful-employment rule that reflects those broad goals will have implications for the accountability measures currently in effect for career programs and the kind of data it would provide students.

It’s broadly understood both by advocates and administration officials that Congress would have to rewrite current law for the rule to apply more broadly -- unless it is turned into a pure transparency measure, akin to the College Scorecard. And publishing typical earnings for a given profession by region, as for-profit representatives are seeking, would mean an end to publication of program-level outcomes. That's information consumer advocates say is essential to understanding which programs are doing well (or not).

A new rule from the department is a long way off -- an appointed negotiating panel won’t be seated until later this fall and it will likely be another year before new regulations are finalized -- but the for-profit sector isn’t waiting on the administration for a friendlier outcome. While Career Education Colleges and Universities, the sector’s biggest trade group, makes its case at the department, it’s also pushing for redress on Capitol Hill.

CECU throughout the summer has shopped legislative language to lawmakers that would make the changes it’s advocating in the rule-making process. Steve Gunderson, the group’s president and CEO, acknowledged that legislation altering the rule likely won’t move forward soon and, even if it found wide support, was unlikely to be passed before the rule-making process concludes.

But the group hopes that a gainful-employment bill would inform the committee’s process -- and the rule the department eventually issues.

'We are moving forward on parallel tracks for all the right reasons,' Gunderson said. 'We believe until there’s a clear regulatory solution, we should pursue a legislative solution. Until there’s a legislative solution, the regulatory provisions of rule making are equally important.'"

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.


Publication Date: 8/11/2017

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