DeVos Plans to Ax Gainful-Employment Rule, Which Targeted For-Profit Colleges

Chronicle of Higher Education

by Andy Thomason

The Education Department plans to repeal the gainful-employment rule, which sought to punish higher-education programs whose graduates bear a high level of student-loan debt, according to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.Experts had predicted that the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, aimed to weaken the rule, not scrap it.

The rule would have punished programs whose graduates had student-debt payments that amounted to more than a certain percentage of their incomes. Analyses of the rule’s predicted impact showed that for-profit colleges would have been disproportionately affected.

The rule has been controversial ever since it was announced by the Obama administration, in 2011. Part of it was tossed out in 2012 by a federal judge, prompting a revised rule that itself was stalled last year by the Trump administration. Thursday’s report by the Times stated that a draft rule would repeal the regulation entirely.

The Times also reported that the draft rule would seek to beef up the College Scorecard with program-level data about student success, metrics that the scorecard does not currently offer.

The gainful-employment news was revealed in the same week the department moved to make it more difficult for student-loan borrowers who say they have been defrauded by their colleges to get federal relief from their loan debt.

A spokeswoman for the department did not immediately answer an email seeking comment.