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Freedom Fridays

August 25, 2017 – Expanding Opportunities For Students

 

Don’t Let Washington Choose Your Education For You

 

Freedom Fridays

 

Repealing the Department of Education Gainful Employment Rule

 

What does this regulation do?

In 2014, the Department of Education issued a regulation targeting for-profit colleges under the guise of protecting students and taxpayer dollars. Under the rule, for-profit colleges must report annually on new graduates’ student loan debt payment as a percentage of their income. Any institutions at which the average student graduates with debt payments that exceed 8 percent of their income would be considered unsuccessful and could be forced to close.

 

Why is this a problem?

Rather than truly targeting the problem of increasing student loan debt, the gainful employment rule will instead reduce the educational options students have available to them. The rule is unevenly and unfairly applied to for-profit colleges, but not four-year nonprofit institutions. The Department of Education’s own statistics show that the average percentage of debt payment for nonprofit institutions is higher than the allowable limit for schools covered under the rule. It also fails to take into account careers that offer low starting salaries but high earnings potential in the long run. For-profit colleges typically offer skills training, flexible schedules, and on-the-job training that most four-year, nonprofit institutions do not provide. Additionally, they frequently serve low-income, minority, and nontraditional students, such as single parents and veterans, at a higher than four-year schools. If these programs are forced to close, students, including those in the middle of earning their degree, will be left without a similar educational pathway or pushed into a more expensive four-year program.

 

What I am doing about it

This week, I introduced an amendment to H.R.3354, the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, that would prohibit federal funding from being used to implement this regulation. Congress has the ultimate authority to make laws for our nation. Policies like these are the kinds that should be given due consideration by officials that can be held accountable by their constituents. In July, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos began rewriting the regulation, starting with public meetings with stakeholders in education. I look forward to the Trump administration scaling back the negative impacts of the rule.

 

What are they saying?

“We applaud Congressman Biggs’ effort to alleviate the “skills gap” by advancing thoughtful regulations that enable schools and colleges to educate today’s workforce. We are proud to have a campus in his district. The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area alone employs almost 9,000 nursing assistants and over 1,000 phlebotomists, both examples of high-growth career fields where graduates from our sector are greatly needed. The allied health field as well as many other career fields need our graduates. We’re grateful that Congressman Biggs places the focus on skills training and preparing our students and not regulations that limit opportunities.” - Fred Freedman, President and CEO of Pima Medical Institute

“Our mission as a sector is to help students obtain the credentials they need for a stable, fulfilling career and support the nation’s economy. Across many professions including allied health, technology and the trades, our graduates are in high demand. Overly burdensome and costly regulations such as the gainful employment rule make it difficult for our schools to train students to enter these professions. While accountability is important, the regulation unfairly targets institutions in the career education sector. The accountability measures should be extended to all of higher education, and should take into consideration factors such as wage differentiation across locales and graduates’ long-term earnings instead of short-term earnings measured just after they complete their degree program.” - Steve Gunderson, President and CEO of Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU)