Stepping Up Gainful Criticism

Career College Central summary:

  • Representatives of for-profit colleges stepped up their criticism this week of the Department of Education’s efforts to rewrite the “gainful employment” rules that would apply to their institutions and vocational programs at community colleges.
  • As a federally appointed panel kicked off a second round of negotiations over the regulations, the for-profit-college members of the committee lamented a lack of information and questioned the department’s rationale for putting forth a stricter, more sweeping proposal than the department originally suggested in its first draft. The department is now proposing standards that include a debt-to-income measure, a program-level cohort default rate, and a loan repayment rate. With that more aggressive proposal on the table, the negotiators Monday appeared even further apart than they did during the first round of discussions.
  • It’s not yet clear how many current programs would pass or fail under the latest proposal because the department has not yet released such an analysis. Negotiators from for-profit institutions and community colleges lamented the lack of availability of that data, which department officials said Monday would be provided soon.
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, a Republican, showed up for the negotiating session Monday. “One of the things that I’m interested in is that the department is so ill-prepared in terms of answering questions,” Foxx said as she left the session after watching for about an hour and a half.
  • The presence of a member of Congress at the rule making session was unusual; the audience for such negotiations is typically limited to lobbyists, policy analysts and department staffers. Foxx has been a vocal supporter of for-profit colleges and is leading a legislative effort to block the Education Department from creating and enforcing “gainful employment regulations” until the Higher Education Act is reauthorized. The bill passed out of committee over the summer but hasn’t yet come up for a vote in the full House.

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