Betsy DeVos has recently stated that she aims to remove Obama-era policies that protect students from for-profit colleges. She is trying to expunge all traces of the "new gainful employment rule", and get rid of any regulations regarding debt-to-income rates. She believes that these regulations are unfair to both students and schools.
The gainful employment rule requires vocational programs at for-profit colleges and non-degree programs to meet minimum guidelines regarding college debt. If for-profit colleges don't meet these requirements, they will lose access to federal financial aid for a certain period of time. Any colleges that fail to show adequate job placement rates are deemed as "failing" and will lose funding through the Department of Education.
Proponents of the gainful employment rule argue that it helps to deter programs with predatory tuition rates. The regulations were designed to prevent situations where schools would offer low quality education to take advantage of college student payments. Multiple campuses associated with ITT Tech and DeVry University were shut down because low-income students were unable to pay off steep tuition rates and secure stable jobs after graduations.
However, multiple for-profit colleges have complained that the regulations within the gainful employment rule are too "broad". Since the implementation of the new regulations, nearly 16,000 defense claims have been filed by the Department of Education against for-profit colleges. Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the group Career Education Colleges and Universities, believes DeVos's actions will protect students from academic fraud and "schools from ideological efforts to destroy postsecondary education."
DeVos is following through with her promise of a "regulatory reset", and yearns to expand more opportunities for college students. She acknowledged that the gainful employment rule had been challenged by many lower courts, and hopes that for-profit institutions will have better access to due process of law.
College students are concerned that DeVos's new proposals will allow for the rise of more predatory lending in higher education. It will be interesting to see whether or not DeVos's regulations actually improve the educational and financial outcomes of for-profit colleges in the United States.
Lead Image Credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons