The political storm continues to foment over the Obama Administration’s proposal to regulate for-profit career colleges. As I noted in a recent opinion piece for The Hill newspaper, career colleges have secured a critical niche in adapting training and learning environments that meet the ever-changing needs of American business. They provide America’s workforce with critical skills to obtain better jobs.
The intrusive regulation being sought by the U.S. Department of Education is known as the “Gainful Employment” rule. It proposes to take away federal financial aid to students - if their projected earnings after graduation don’t meet a certain debt-to-income ratio. Most often, the students who attend these schools are from low-income and minority communities. They don’t have the resources or time to attend a traditional university, and they rely on flexible classes and graduation timelines to acquire skills to land jobs. If the department imposes these draconian regulations, students will be denied funding and their higher education opportunities will be severely limited. Moreover, American business will be denied the type of skilled labor and human capital that will help our economy grow and compete at the international level.
The story over the Gainful Employment rule has only gotten uglier. Now, there are allegations that the department leaked information to short sellers and other proponents of the rule who would benefit financially if the rule was imposed. Thankfully, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) wrote a letter to the Department of Education Inspector General requesting that this matter be looked into more carefully to determine whether information was leaked. Certainly this matter must be investigated.
The rulemaking must also be dropped.
Instead of punishing students just trying to get ahead in a tough job market, the Department of Education should be leveraging the power of career colleges to put more Americans back to work. The proposed regulation is simply another bad idea -- and another painful reminder about how out of touch Washington is with the needs of American business and workers.
Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO