Gaming Gainful Employment

It looks like the U.S. Department of Education is fudging the numbers...again.

The Obama administration is taking another run at imposing onerous gainful-employment regulations on private, for-profit career colleges.

Under the new proposed regulations unveiled earlier this year, for students to qualify for federal aid for-profit career colleges must prove the estimated annual loan payments of graduates do not exceed 20 percent of their discretionary earnings, or 8 percent of their total earnings, and the default rate for former students does not exceed 30 percent.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan insisted that 72 percent of career college graduates earn less than high school dropouts. That figure was soundly discredited, but it seems the department hasn’t learned its lesson about fudging the numbers. As Watchdog.org’s Bre Payton reports:

The U.S. Department of Education doesn’t know for sure how many comments the public submitted to it nearly four months ago about the controversial “gainful employment” rule.

Experts say the “witch-hunt” like rule ought to be able to stand up to feedback from those affected by it, but while the public comment period closed May 27, the department still hasn’t “counted up an exact figure” of comments received.

The department is instead “spending our time having conversations and crafting a rule that will best serve students,” a spokesman from the department said on background in an email to Watchdog.org. ...

The department spokesman confirmed staff received “less than 100,000 comments this go-around.”

Advocates worry the department’s opaque treatment of these comments is not only a transparency issue, but a disservice to the rule-making process.

If gainful-employment regulations go through, they’ll also inflict more hardships and less opportunities for students and taxpayers.

Vicki E. Alger is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Senior Fellow and Director of the Women for School Choice Project at the Independent Women’s Forum. She is the author of the Independent book, Failure: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children.
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