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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.