FORBES OPINION: Department Of Education’s ‘Gainful Employment’ Rule: An Excessive And Ideologically-Driven Regulation

Career College Central Summary:

  • Suppose a Republican administration’s Department of Education enforced a regulation that cut off federal student loans only for those students who attend colleges that predominantly serve lower income, minority and working class families. Can you imagine the cries of outrage that would be heard from liberal members of the Congress? Class discrimination? Hard-hearted conservatives targeting the most vulnerable students in our society?
  • So, how and why did this happen in a progressive Democratic administration—one whose policies I have supported over the last six years? To put it another way, is there a better example of excessive and ideologically-driven regulation by liberal government, fact-free and producing the opposite consequences of what is usually the goal of liberalism: protecting the underserved and providing them greater economic and educational opportunities?
  • Some factual background
  • For the last four years, the Administration has targeted students who attend for-profit “career” colleges to be subject to the “gainful employment” regulation. This regulation sets limits on debt-to-income ratios almost entirely for those students who are enrolled in for-profit career college programs. The first version of this regulation, issued about three years ago by the Department of Education, was declared illegal by a federal court. The latest version was published in October of 2014, and has already been challenged in federal and state court for being arbitrary and capricious.
  • For-profit career college students are primarily from lower-income, minority or working middle-class families and are often the first in their families to pursue higher education. The Department of Education estimates that about 1,400 programs serving 840,000 students—of whom 99 percent attend for profit institutions—would not pass the gainful employment regulation.
  • How does a purportedly progressive Democratic Department of Education justify this discriminatory treatment of the most vulnerable students in our society? The answer is: By relying on false and misleading data to support the inflammatory headline in its press release describing the gainful employment regulation as necessary to “protect Americans from predatory and poor-performing career colleges.”

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