A recent editorial, published by the Arizona Republic, focused on the shortcomings of the Gainful Employment rule and seemed to provide a glimmer of hope for the millions that would be adversely affected by its implementation.

The editorial, which echoes many of the viewpoints we have expressed throughout our blogs, sensibly contends that accountability for federal financial aid dollars and student outcomes should not be limited to for-profit colleges. Indeed, like APC, the paper’s editorial board encourages such measures — but logically asserts that all institutions should be beholden to the same standards.

More poignantly, it notes Republican Senator Jeff Flake’s efforts to delay enforcement of the rule. Senator Flake and his House bill co-signers, rather prudently, believe that the Department should not continue to pursue its “Gainful Employment” regulation until a comprehensive impact study has been conducted. This seems logical to us. Has the Department considered whether public institutions harbor sufficient resources to support displaced students? Or how local economies might be impacted by the forced closure of programs?

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Democratic Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, also expressed significant concern that GE would hinder higher education access for millions of nontraditional students. We know that many proprietary colleges offer a path to a brighter future for those who need it most and, given the White House’s push to expand college opportunities for all, the highly restrictive rule seems like a step in the wrong direction.

Nonetheless, it’s heartening to see that lawmakers, and media outlets, are starting to take notice and push back on this highly flawed DoE initiative. While the Department’s publicly stated motive to protect students from underperforming programs may seem noble at first glance, its approach to achieving that outcome is anything but. Impacted students and the strong-performing programs they attend deserve far better than the flawed and biased regulation at hand.

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