Battle Raging At White House Over For-Profit College Rules

Career College Central summary:

  • Education advocates and representatives of the career college sector are flocking to the White House as the two sides spar over regulations meant to ensure schools are doing enough to prepare students for the job market. Officials from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and the Department of Education have held four meetings in the last week on the “gainful employment” regulations that are in the works.
  •  Advocacy groups say the regulations have already been watered down under pressure from industry groups, while private colleges warn that overly restrictive rules could cost millions of would-be students access to education. Late last month, the Department of Education submitted its proposed rule to OMB for review. The regulations would spell out new criteria for determining whether certain higher education programs lead to gainful employment, including students’ ability to repay loans and their debt-to-income ratios.
  •  The process reflects the administration’s second run at the regulations. An initial rule issued in 2011 was tossed out, after a federal court judge found fault with an important provision involving repayment rates.  The latest iteration, amended during a series of negotiated rule-making sessions late last year, scrapped that provision. Advocates say the proposal has been weakened in other areas as well.
  • But private colleges say the latest text made public by the Department of Education is still more stringent than the rule that was struck down two years ago. The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) argued during its White House meeting that the regulations would deny as many as 2 million people — including 140,000 veterans, 300,000 Hispanics and almost 500,000 African-Americans — access to college through the end of the current decade.
  •  Further, APSCU spokesman Noah Black argued, the rule would single out for-profit institutions. “It would predominantly impact students enrolled at private sector colleges, while not addressing outcomes and student debt issues across all of higher education,” he said. “Clearly, this has been designed to capture more programs, and as a result, more programs fail.” Once finalized, the rule is widely expected to face another legal challenge.

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