House Democrats Blast Department of Education

Today (6-2-11), Reps. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), Edolphus "Ed" Towns (D-NY), Tim Holden (D-PA), and Ted Deutch (D-FL) reacted to the Department of Education’s (DOE) release of their Gainful Employment regulations. Under the Higher Education Act, proprietary colleges and universities and career training programs are required to offer programs that lead to gainful employment in a legally recognized occupation in order to participate in the federal student aid programs.

The term "Gainful Employment," has been in the statute for over 40 years, and during the most recent reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, there was no debate or discussion on a need to further define the term. DOE recently released a regulation that would make programs ineligible for federal student aid if they fail to meet one of three measures of "gainful employment" which utilize the student loan debt-to-income ratio of graduates and repayment rate of graduates in the programs rather than actual measures of educational quality such as job placement and graduation rates.

“It is deeply troubling that an administration supposedly committed to increasing college completion in the United States would propose a regulation that restricts minority access to higher education and limits job opportunities for those who need them most,” said Congressman Alcee L. Hastings. “Career colleges are economic engines all across the country with demonstrated successful student outcomes. This misguided regulation not only impacts the thousands of students who will be left high and dry in their efforts to obtain a college degree, but also the many dedicated individuals who will lose their jobs as entire programs are eliminated. Rising student debt and unscrupulous practices are certainly legitimate concerns. However, they are not limited to private sector institutions, and this regulation fails to adequately address either issue. I remain committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to implement meaningful reforms to our higher education system that truly protect educational opportunities for all students.”

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