Opponents of ‘Gainful Employment’ Rule Take Fight to White House

Opponents of the U.S. Education Department’s proposed "gainful employment" rule are appealing directly to President Obama, urging him to set aside the controversial regulation. In a letter sent on Monday, the Coalition for Educational Success argues that the rule — which would cut off federal student aid to programs whose students have high debt-to-income ratios and low loan-repayment rates — is inconsistent with a recent executive order on improving the regulatory process.

The executive order, which was issued last week, calls for streamlining regulations to "reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public," and urges federal agencies to consider alternatives to regulation, such as incentives for behavior change.

In its letter, the coalition argues that the "gainful employment" rule "fails on every one of the order’s criteria."

"Onerous regulations—as you put it—can ‘stifle innovation and have a chilling effect on growth and jobs.’ However, this is exactly what will happen if the Department of Education’s proposed ‘Gainful Employment’ regulation is implemented," it reads.

The group has made similar points in advertisements that are running this week in The Washington Post, Roll Call, and Politico. The Education Department is expected to release its final "gainful employment" rule in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the "Save Access Student Choice Coalition," another group opposing the rule, is focusing its appeal on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. In a letter also sent on Monday, the group says the rule would "violate the spirit" of the president’s order by placing an "excessive burden" on students who attend for-profit colleges.

"We are sure that you would agree," the letter reads, "that government should not erect barriers that get in the way of honest Americans’ trying to secure work."

THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

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