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U.S. Continues to Delay, Soften Gainful-Employment Rules

August 18, 2017

The U.S. Education Department announced this week that it has delayed the implementation of another element of the regulation that holds vocational programs accountable for their graduates' outcomes, and has eliminated some of the requirements on institutions to "reduce the burden" on them. The latest change, one of several the Trump administration has instituted to either delay or soften the so-called gainful-employment rules while it undertakes a wholesale rewrite of the regulations, postpones until next February the deadline by which programs subject to gainful employment must submit appeals of earnings data for their graduates. This is the second delay in that deadline.

The announcement also notes that the department will give programs that wish to challenge the government's data on earnings the ability to conduct and use data from their own survey of graduates' income. The department's announcement said the changes were in response to a federal court's ruling in June that partially blocked application of the rule to a group of cosmetology schools that challenged the rule.

In a news release responding to the department's announcement, the Center for American Progress asserted that the changes would "improperly allow hundreds of programs that leave their graduates with too much debt compared with their earnings to avoid sanctions."

“Weakening the appeals process is yet another extralegal action by the Department of Education to avoid enforcing a rule its political leadership does not like,” said Ben Miller, senior director for postsecondary education at the center.

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Doug Lederman

Doug Lederman is editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. He helps lead the news organization's editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Doug speaks widely about higher education, including on C-Span and National Public Radio and at meetings and on campuses around the country, and his work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. Doug was managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003. Before that, Doug had worked at The Chronicle since 1986 in a variety of roles, first as an athletics reporter and editor. He has won three National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, including one in 2009 for a series of Inside Higher Ed articles he co-wrote on college rankings. He began his career as a news clerk at The New York Times. He grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and graduated in 1984 from Princeton University. Doug lives with his wife, Kate Scharff, in Bethesda, Md.

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