Since the Department published its highly contentious Gainful Employment rule this fall, there has been a great deal of debate as various interested parties weighed in for or against the rule. Regretfully, the critical question of whether it’s the best possible regulation to serve students’ interests seems lost amidst the noise.
When it comes to ensuring that graduates receiving federally funded tuition support are being properly prepared for meaningful employment, all students – regardless of college or major – should be granted the same protective oversight by Washington, D.C. As evidenced by its blind focus on the proprietary sector, however, it certainly appears the Department of Education thinks otherwise.
A recent article in USA Today noted that critics of the Gainful Employment rule have justifiably decried the fact that it does not apply to similar programs at public and nonprofit institutions — despite preliminary indications that up to 43 percent and 56 percent respectively would fail if required to meet its metrics. To date, the Department has not adequately explained its stance on this important shortcoming of the GE rule.
It’s worth noting, as the article reports, that criticisms of the rule aren’t just limited to those within the sector. Arizona Representative Matt Salmon has, somewhat sensibly, urged Congress to delay introduction of the rule until a comprehensive impact study has been conducted. This begs the question: when four million students’ futures hang in the balance, shouldn’t that have been one of the Department’s first undertakings prior to embarking on its crusade against proprietary institutions?
Evidence increasingly points toward the devastating impact that the rule could have on the students it is supposed to protect: millions would find themselves displaced, and closure of multiple programs could result in increased costs at state and local government level. If the Department is serious about helping students, we hope it will take these concerns seriously rather than perpetuating its “scorched earth” regulatory approach and punishing many institutions which, for generations, have provided opportunities to those who need them most.