The Heritage Foundation’s work exposing unfair and unnecessary education regulations yielded success at the end of June with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s full rescission of the “gainful employment” regulation.
The Obama administration promulgated the regulation ostensibly to “hold career training programs accountable for putting their students on the path to success, and… complement action across the administration to protect consumers and prevent and investigate fraud, waste and abuse, particularly at for-profit colleges,” according to the Department of Education.
It stipulated that graduates of for-profit schools must not surpass a predefined debt-to-earnings ratio of 8%. If an institution failed to accomplish this, it would be penalized by losing access to federal student loan and aid programs. Public universities were exempt from this regulation (although certain programs within traditional universities could have fallen under the rule).
The Trump administration has been working to address the regulation since July 2018.
Lindsey Burke, director of Heritage’s Center for Education Policy and Will Skillman fellow in education, has written about the problems posed by this regulation since its inception.
Heritage published multiple reports about unfair education regulations, and noted this in the 2018 edition of “Blueprint for Balance,” which provided detailed recommendations.
“Heritage has long argued that federal regulations should not unfairly target for-profit universities,” says Burke. “When regulations are promulgated, they should be done in a manner that applies to all higher education institutions equally—not layered on to schools that are meeting the needs of non-traditional students and those seeking career education options.”
At the end of May, Burke testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy about the importance of repealing the mandate.
“Many students seek out vocational training as a means of establishing a meaningful, long-term career in a critical field. The government should not penalize them for that choice,” argued Burke at the committee hearing.
The Department of Education, now controlled by the Trump administration, officially rescinded the regulation at the end of June. Now, a new reporting system and updated oversight scorecard that applies to all institutions of higher education has been implemented by the agency.
Burke stated on the overhaul, “Adding new reporting requirements to the federal college scorecard isn’t ideal, but it is preferable to a politicized gainful employment rule that targets the proprietary sector, threatens students attending these schools with the loss of student loans and grants, and ultimately, limits choices for students.”