28 Groups Urge Court to Protect Students and Taxpayers, Uphold Department of Education ‘Gainful Employment’ Rule
In a friend-of-the-court brief filed March 6 with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 28 organizations urged the court to reject a legal challenge by the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) to the “gainful employment” rule. The groups advocate for students and college access, civil rights, veterans and consumers.
Nearly all of the groups also filed a brief on March 2 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, where another industry group – the Association of Proprietary Colleges – launched a similar challenge to the rule.
Final Gainful Employment Regulation Released
The Administration released its final gainful employment regulation on Thursday, October 30, 2014. The news release and final regulation can be found here.
Several organizations released statements on the final regulation, including:
American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
AFT’s Weingarten on Gainful Employment Regulations
Center for Responsible Lending
The Weakened Gainful Employment Rule is a Step Forward, but Fails to Fully Protect Students
The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS)
Statement on Final Gainful Employment Regulation
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Gainful Employment Rule Language Provides Important Accountability to Ensure Quality Higher Education
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Civil and Human Rights Coalition Calls New Gainful Employment Standards a Step Forward
Mississippi Center for Justice
Advocacy Group Issues Statement On Revised Department Of Education Rules Governing For-Profits
National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC)
NACAC Comments on Education Department’s New Gainful Employment Rule
United States Student Association (USSA)
Department of Education Falls Short on Final Rule
Final proposed Gainful Employment fails to fully protect students at predatory for-profit institutions
New federal rules on for-profit colleges fail to stop poor practices
Weak Gainful Employment Rule Leaves Students Vulnerable
National Civil and Human Rights Groups Urge Administration to Release Strong Gainful Employment Rule
A coalition of eight civil rights organizations released a policy brief today, October 29, 2014, urging the U.S. Department of Education to release a strong gainful employment regulation to protect students, particularly African-American and Latino students, from substandard career education programs.
The brief, “Gainful Employment: A Civil Rights Perspective,” documents the adverse outcomes that African-American and Latino students experience as a result of policies and practices implemented at for-profit colleges. Students at for-profit colleges are much less likely to graduate, more likely to default, and more likely to incur debt than students at public and non-profit schools. The brief details how a strong gainful employment rule will provide much needed protections to both students and taxpayers.
“Stronger oversight is desperately needed to tackle the problems of poor outcomes and high debt within career education programs,” the brief urges. “Currently, even when better and lower cost options are available, African-American and Latino students are disproportionately enrolled in schools where they are both likely to borrow and unlikely to succeed, and there are few incentives for schools to improve poorly performing programs.”
The brief was released by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Center for Responsible Lending, the Children’s Defense Fund, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, MALDEF, the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Council of La Raza.
A broad coalition of more than 50 organizations representing students and college access, veterans, consumers, and civil rights filed public comments calling on the Department to strengthen its proposed gainful employment rule in four specific ways. They include providing financial relief for students in programs that lose eligibility; limiting enrollment in poorly performing programs until they improve; closing loopholes and raising standards; and protecting low-cost programs where most graduates don’t borrow. Read the coalition comments here.
Senate HELP Committee Report on the For-Profit Education Industry
On July 30, 2012, Senator Harkin unveiled a HELP Committee report on the for-profit education industry and the 30 companies that have been the focus of a two-year Committee investigation. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of how the $32 billion annual investment in the sector is serving taxpayers and the students enrolling in the schools. The report draws on data and documents not previously released including new student outcome data for each of the companies reviewed. Joining Senator Harkin at the press conference were Senator Blumenthal, Congressman Cummings, Amy Wilkins from The Education Trust, Tom Tarantino from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and Laura Brozek, a former Director of Recruitment for ITT Technical Institute.
The entire report, For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success, can be found here.
On a visit to Fort Stewart in Georgia on April 27, 2012, the President signed an Executive Order designed to protect veterans and servicemembers and their families from colleges that seek to mislead them. In his speech, the president said:
“I’m not talking about all schools. Many of them — for-profit and non-profit — provide quality education to our servicemembers and our veterans and their families. But there are some bad actors out there. They’ll say you don’t have to pay a dime for your degree but once you register, they’ll suddenly make you sign up for a high interest student loan. They’ll say that if you transfer schools, you can transfer credits. But when you try to actually do that, you suddenly find out that you can’t. They’ll say they’ve got a job placement program when, in fact, they don’t. It’s not right. They’re trying to swindle and hoodwink you. And today, here at Fort Stewart, we’re going to put an end to it.”
The goal of the Executive Order is to:
• Create a centralized complaint system for students receiving Federal military and veterans educational benefits to register complaints that can be tracked and responded to by the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Justice, and Education, the CFPB, and other relevant agencies.
• Provide students with educational and financial information to make informed decisions.
• End fraudulent and aggressive recruiting techniques on and off military installations.
• Ensure support services for service-members and veterans.
• Develop and collect service member- and veteran-specific student outcome data.
• Begin the process to trademark the term “GI Bill.”
The full text of the Executive Order is here; the White House news release is here; background on the visit and event is here; a video of the President’s speech is here; the text of the President’s Fort Stewart speech is here, and President’s weekly radio address, which was also on this topic, is here. Veterans organizations that have been working on this issue came out in strong support of the Executive Order. Statements were issued by many groups, including the American Legion, Military
GAO Reports on For-Profit Colleges
The GAO issues two reports dealing with for-profit colleges in 2011. For the first, For-Profit Schools: Experiences of Undercover Students Enrolled in Online Classes at Selected Colleges (October 2011), the GAO was asked to conduct undercover testing by enrolling in online classes under degree-granting programs. It reported that, “during the course of undercover testing, GAO documented its observations related to enrollment, cost, financial aid, course structure, substandard student performance, withdrawal, and exit counseling. Overall, GAO observed that 8 of the 15 colleges appeared to follow existing policies related to academic dishonesty, exit counseling, and course grading standards. At the 7 remaining colleges, GAO found mixed results. For example, one or more staff at these colleges appeared to act in conflict with school policies regarding academic dishonesty or course grading standards, or federal regulations pertaining to exit counseling for student loans, while other staff acted consistent with such policies.”
The second GAO report, Student Outcomes Vary at For-Profit, Nonprofit, and Public Schools (December 2011), reviewed available studies to look at student outcomes according to student characteristics at higher education institutions. As reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education,” For-profit institutions perform worse than public and private colleges on most measures of quality, even when student demographics are taken into account.”
On July 21, 2011, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee chaired by Senator Tom Harkin held a full committee hearing entitled: Improving For-Profit Higher Education: A Roundtable Discussion of Policy Solutions. The discussion was focused on finding policy solutions to the problems in the for-profit highed education industry. In a news release announcing the hearing, Senator Harkin said, “Over the past year, my Committee has documented serious problems at some for-profit schools including deceptive and misleading recruiting tactics, disturbingly high drop-out rates, and large numbers of students left with debt but little else to show for their attendance” said Harkin. “Given the annual $30 billion taxpayer investment in these schools, it is incumbent on both the industry itself and Congress to ensure this investment is being used wisely. I am looking forward to a thoughtful discussion with school leaders, student and consumer advocates, and my colleagues to discuss how best to address the problems we’ve uncovered and ensure our taxpayer dollars are being used to provide Americans with education and opportunity.”
Frontline: Educating Sergeant Pantzke
Tuesday, June 28: American public television’s public affairs series, FRONTLINE, began airing Educating Sergeant Pantzke.
FRONTLINE writes: As troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. government spending on veterans’ education will more than double to $9.5 billion this year, and a growing percentage of this money has been ending up in the pockets of for-profit colleges. In a follow-up to FRONTLINE’s College, Inc., correspondent Martin Smith investigates how the for-profit schools are aggressively recruiting huge numbers of new veterans with educational promises that many now question whether they can keep.
You can find additional media coverage here