Invitation to Comment on the Proposed Rescinding of the Gainful Employment Rule


Yesterday the Department of Education proposed to rescind the “Gainful Employment Rule,” a regulation that required all for-profit institutions and some non-degree programs at nonprofit institutions to prove the value of their credentials in order to remain eligible for Title IV funding programs.  The rule required that these programs must have a graduate debt-to-discretionary earnings ratio of less than or equal to 20 percent, or debt-to-annual earnings ratio of less than or equal to 8 percent.

Instead, the Department of Education proposes to update the College Scorecard or a similar online platform to reflect “program-level outcomes” for all higher education programs at any institution that participates in Title VI funding programs.

NAS has raised concerns about the Gainful Employment Rule, which was promulgated under the Obama administration as a way to target for-profit colleges and universities. NAS President Peter Wood commented that “The for-profit colleges and universities as they are now are certainly not bastions of scholarship or liberal arts education.” But he also noted that the rule singled out for-profits, perhaps unfairly.

In our 2017 blueprint for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the Freedom to Learn Amendments, we proposed that the Gainful Employment Rule should be applied to all institutions—including nonprofits—in order to treat institutions of higher education fairly. NAS has also praised the PROSPER Act, the House Republican bill to reauthorize the Higher Education, which would repeal and prohibit further regulation on the Gainful Employment Rule.

The Department of Education invites concerned parties to submit comments to the Secretary regarding the proposal to rescind this rule. We encourage NAS members to participate in the negotiated rulemaking process by submitting comments. The deadline to do so is September 13, 2018.

There are two ways to submit comments:

Note that the Federal government’s policy is to make all comments publicly available. The Federal government also publishes a list of tips for drafting effective comments on a proposed rule.

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