Department of Education Tries to Lower Student Debt

Your March 28 editorial on career colleges misses the mark by not advocating for a single regulatory standard for all institutions of higher education ["Toughen rules on for-profit colleges," Opinion, March 28].

The U.S. Department of Education’s gainful employment regulation, which your editorial advocates, does nothing to address the issue of long-term student debt. Instead, it narrowly targets career colleges by establishing an arbitrary short-term metric that ignores the long-term economic benefits of higher education.

If the department were serious about tackling student debt, it would create rules that apply to all institutions of higher education, including public and private nonprofits of which students hold the vast majority of student debt.

Instead, the department is unilaterally attempting to redefine “gainful employment,” a term that has been in U.S. statute for over 45 years. The department is overstepping its authority by continuing to implement a rule the U.S. House of Representatives voted 258-136 to block.

Implementation of this regulation will deny millions of nontraditional, minority veterans and military students from gaining a higher education and a pathway to a career.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan should heed Congress’ call to stop the regulation and allow lawmakers to determine the best path forward.

— Penny Lee, managing director, Coalition for Educational Success, Washington, D.C.


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