Comments on Proposed Gainful Employment Regulations

Photo of grads holding hire me signHigher Learning Advocates submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in response to its recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Gainful Employment (GE) and Certification Procedures, sharing both support for the Department’s actions to reimplement GE and recommendations to strengthen the proposed regulation.

While we strongly support ED’s implementation of the GE regulation, which aims to ensure that Title IV aid benefits students by preventing high debt and insufficient earnings and skills, HLA raises concerns about the earnings metric proposed in the NPRM. By using state-level averages, the rule may not sufficiently account for economic disparities within a state. To address this, HLA recommends considering median earnings at the county or regional level, which would provide a more accurate representation of economic realities.

Additionally, HLA suggests implementing a dual metric system, allowing programs to meet either an earnings threshold or a wage progression metric. Relying solely on an earnings threshold fails to address disparities based on race, ethnicity, gender, and part-time work, and overlooks actual wage growth within a cohort. By incorporating a wage progression metric, low-earning programs that show improvements for their students could demonstrate their value, particularly for programs serving diverse populations.

We also expressed concern about changes to certification procedures, recommending ED exclude section 668.14(b)(32) from the rule and discuss it during the next negotiated rulemaking effort. The rule should be thoroughly discussed to preserve state reciprocity agreements under the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements and the four regional compacts.

By considering our recommendations and prioritizing the needs of today’s adult students, who often balance work and family responsibilities while pursuing higher education, ED can maximize opportunities for today’s students while protecting them from low-quality programs.


Read our comments here

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