OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today led a coalition of 21 attorneys general in submitting a comment letter to the U.S. Department of Education, applauding its strongest-ever proposed Gainful Employment Rule. Originally issued by the Obama Administration in 2012, the Gainful Employment Rule aims to protect students by, among other things, establishing expectations that graduates of for-profit colleges and of career-training programs at nonprofit colleges earn enough money to meaningfully pay back their federal student loans. In doing so, the Gainful Employment Rule also protects taxpayers by ensuring that low-quality programs — largely concentrated at for-profit institutions — are cutoff from access to taxpayer funds in the form of federal student aid. Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was hostile to the Obama-era Gainful Employment Rule and repealed the entire Rule in 2019. The Biden Administration is now proposing a new Gainful Employment Rule that strengthens federal efforts to hold accountable predatory colleges.
“It's a no-brainer: any institution that wants access to federal financial aid must provide some value to its students,” said Attorney General Bonta. “With its proposed Gainful Employment Rule, the U.S. Department of Education is taking bold, necessary action to make that goal a reality. I commend Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and the Biden Administration, and I look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure our students are not taken advantage of by unscrupulous for-profit schools.”
Under the Higher Education Act, post-secondary institutions are required to “prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” If an institution does not, it risks losing access to federal financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education announced its latest proposed Gainful Employment Rule on May 17, 2023 and requested public comment. Today’s letter responds to that request.
In its proposed Gainful Employment Rule, the U.S. Department of Education would establish the following protections:
In their comment letter, the attorneys general commend the above proposals, and also:
In submitting the comment letter, Attorney General Bonta was joined by the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
A copy of the comment letter can be found here.