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Education Department Rescinds Gainful Employment Regulations

The Trump administration is rescinding the Obama-era Gainful Employment (GE) regulations that required for-profit schools to prepare their students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”

The move is expected to loosen federal oversight over for profit-colleges, whose graduates had high loan levels in comparison to their income, that were earlier threatened with federal student aid cuts, USA Today reported. The rules will be removed entirely effective July 1, 2020.

The plan to revoke the regulations was unveiled last year by the U.S. Department of Education. The department claimed that the revocation would ensure transparency in higher education data to students and lead to equitable treatment of all higher education institutions.

The department also stressed that institutions revealing information for all programs would help students gain a clearer understanding of the earnings of previous graduates, which will improve transparency as the data would be provided by the Secretary of Education. The move will hold institutions accountable if they are falsifying their program outcomes.

“The Department’s rules should be designed to support all students and treat all schools fairly. The previous administration’s rule did neither,” Betsy DeVos, U.S. Secretary of Education, said in a statement. “All schools should be clear and transparent about their outcomes and all students should have a full range of information available. We’re committed to making that happen.”

The department also plans to update the college scorecard, requiring institutions to provide program outcomes, debt levels, and earnings for all programs so that students have accurate information while making enrollment and borrowing decisions.

Like other decisions, the latest policy change was both appreciated and criticized by various constituents. Proponents of revoking the regulations said that the move would empower students with the information they need to select their colleges.

“Instead of picking and choosing winners and losers in higher education, the Department will make available, in a student-friendly and transparent manner, key data points at a program level for all programs at all schools,” Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of Career Education Colleges and Universities, said. “What the Department has put forth creates a single standard for measuring program quality and empowers prospective students with the information needed to select their preferred academic and career preparation pathway.”

Opponents expressed concerns over students being left open to further exploitation by predatory colleges.

“DeVos’s repeal of the gainful employment rule means it is open season for predatory schools to take advantage of students and taxpayers,” Robert Shireman, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a former undersecretary of education under the Obama Administration, told The Washington Post. “Schools will no longer risk having their federal funding cut off for loading up students with debts they cannot repay.“

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