Ganging Up On ‘Gainful Employment’

WASHINGTON — A surprisingly bipartisan House of Representatives approved an amendment to the continuing budget resolution last month that would block the Education Department from carrying out its proposed regulation requiring that for-profit colleges and other vocational programs ensure that their students are prepared for "gainful employment." Since this legislative victory, for-profit college advocates on Capitol Hill have fiercely lobbied the Education Department to withdraw the regulation, which they say would overburden institutions with reporting and force them to seek federal approval before creating new programs.

Thursday, at a hearing of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, several Democrats once again joined Republicans in vocalizing concern about the proposed regulation. But neither legislators nor the for-profit-college advocates who spoke before the committee offered substantive suggestions for how to modify the regulation to their liking or, ultimately, whether they would take immediate and concrete legislative steps to block the "gainful employment" rule.

Other legislators argued that there are much larger issues facing higher education, such as the state of the federal financial aid program.

Among those who spoke out against the regulation before the committee was Jeanne Herrmann, chief operating officer of Globe University, a for-profit institution in Minnesota. She argued that the regulation would limit her institution’s ability to quickly design and roll out programs for “high-demand industries.”

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