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The main association of for-profit colleges in Washington on Thursday asked Education Secretary John B. King Jr. to delay implementation of the Obama administration’s “gainful employment” rule that is aimed at cracking down on for-profit colleges.

Steve Gunderson, the president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, asked King to delay any penalties for colleges under the rule for one year.

Gunderson said in a letter that the debt-to-earnings ratios by which colleges are judged under the regulation do not accurately capture students’ long-term earnings. He cited recent studies that he said make clear that “recent graduates face significant challenges in finding work related to the value of their degrees.”

The Obama administration on Thursday didn’t provide any indication that it would be willing to entertain the for-profit college group’s request to delay one of its signature higher education policy achievements.

“We’ve received APSCU’s letter and will respond soon, but students and taxpayers deserve not to wait any longer for these commonsense protections,” said Kelly S. Leon, a department spokeswoman.

A federal appeals court earlier this year rejected the for-profit college group’s legal challenge to the administration’s regulations, which took effect last July.