As evidenced by our lawsuit filed earlier this month in the Southern District of New York, the Association of Proprietary Colleges (APC) takes great issue with the Department of Education’s Gainful Employment Rule and its arbitrary and capricious metrics that our member colleges will be bound to simply due to their “for-profit” status. Biased though such narrow regulatory targeting may be, our concerns are not limited strictly to the rule’s targeting of proprietary schools.

Among the complaints we listed in our lawsuit is how the GE regulation conflicts with the regulatory standards and expectations where our member colleges are based – i.e. New York State. Indeed, elements of the GE Rule directly conflict with the New York State Board of Regents’ academic standards and governance requirements, including its oversight of proprietary colleges.  The Department of Education has ignored the Board of Regents’ requirements even though the Regents are the single state authorizing agency that has won recognition from the Department as an institutional accrediting agency for the federal student aid programs.

In fact, over the past 50 years, New York’s regional accreditor – The Middle States Commission on Higher Education – and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) have urged proprietary colleges to transform from “vocationally oriented job training schools” into academically-based degree programs that are geared toward life-long learning and career success. Accordingly, the U.S. Department of Education approved the programs designed to achieve these goals and has left their implementation and oversight in the capable hands of the state and the accrediting bodies ever since.

That is, until now when the Department has usurped the role it assigned to New York’s regulatory authority, thereby unfairly punishing schools with metrics that don’t account for the student success and long-term career advancement they were urged to focus on – and achieved. Indeed, according to the latest data prepared and published by the NYSED, in 2012 students attending proprietary colleges graduated at a much higher rate than those attending public colleges and, in many instances, at a higher rate than at non-profit independent colleges in the state.

By focusing on the short-term earnings of graduates – and paying no mind to actual graduation rates – the DOE not only dismisses the authority it gave to the New York Board of Regents as an accrediting body, but completely undoes all the progress colleges have made in evolving into institutions of higher education, including many of our own.

For more information on the specifics of the lawsuit we filed against the Department, please see our news release here.

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