Groups Urge Stronger Rules on Incentive Pay and Gainful Employment

After weeks of intense lobbying from the for-profit sector to beat back the U.S. Education Department’s "gainful employment" proposal, which would tie student borrowing for a college program to future earnings in that field, a coalition of organizations says that proposal and others the department is considering instead don’t go far enough.

The coalition, made up of more than 30 groups representing students, colleges, consumers, and civil-rights organizations, wants the department to include stronger measures in its proposed final draft of 14 regulations affecting for-profit colleges. The draft regulations, which the department is expected to release in the next few weeks, govern colleges’ eligibility to participate in the federal student-aid programs.

In a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Thursday, the groups expressed their support for the department’s efforts to regulate for-profit colleges and their hope that the final proposal will contain strong protections for students and taxpayers.

The coalition is especially interested in two rules: one on "incentive compensation," which deals with how student recruiters are compensated, and the gainful-employment proposal.

The letter encourages the department to propose regulations on incentive compensation and gainful employment that would more effectively protect students from "high-pressure and deceptive sales tactics for educational programs of little or no benefit to them" and "ensure that taxpayer dollars do not subsidize such practices and programs."

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