On Friday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos formally announced a move that would cut an Obama-era regulation requiring for-profit colleges to provide proof that their students obtain decent-paying jobs after graduation. The decision was announced on the Education Department’s website and the regulation is expected to be completely eliminated by July 1, 2019.
The “gainful employment” regulation was put in place by the Obama administration to crackdown on for-profit education companies. The goal was to ensure that students who graduated from a for-profit college could obtain a job and earn enough money to repay their student loans. Basically, it helped students find a job and get out of debt. However, Republicans have consistently claimed the bill is unfair and that it places a burden on colleges.
DeVos had a pretty solid argument when announcing her plan to slash gainful employment: She claimed that the Education Department will now provide more information about every college and higher education institution in the nation on the College Scorecard website. However, the Scorecard website is not required by law or regulation, meanng the Trump administration can simply cut gainful employment and never carry out their promise to expand the Scorecard website.
Republicans praised DeVos’ new plan. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who is the current chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said, “Secretary DeVos’s regulation proposes to end a clumsy rule that consumed 945 pages to define two words in the higher education law and targeted just one segment of our 6,000 colleges and universities.”
Democrats have harshly criticized DeVos’s plan, arguing that it will ultimately help for-profit colleges, instead of students. Some have expressed concerns that the plan will lead to taxpayers paying billions of dollars to “low-performing colleges.” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said, “Her extreme proposal to rescind this rule is further proof that there is no line Secretary DeVos won’t cross to pad the pockets of for-profit colleges—even leaving students and taxpayers to foot the bill.”
Vice President of the Institute for College Access and Success Debbie Cochrane warned of the impact of a plan like this back in 2017. Referring to the Obama-era regulations currently in place, she said, “Those are both rules designed to make sure that taxpayers investment and students investment pays off. The gutting or elimination of those rules can only be seen as opening the door to waste fraud and abuse.”
This isn’t DeVos’ first time attempting to cut gainful employment. So far, 17 Democratic attorneys general and the District of Columbia have sued her for delaying the enforcement of the rule. The Education Department is taking comments on the plan for 30 days after the proposed regulation is published in the Federal registrar.