WILL DISPLACE MILLIONS OF STUDENTS OVER THE NEXT DECADE; INHIBIT EMPLOYER NEEDS FOR JOB READY WORKFORCE
Washington, D.C., November 20, 2013—Today, the U.S. Department of Education was supposed to conclude its gainful employment negotiated rulemaking session. Instead, it announced additional negotiations for some point in December 2013.
The negotiated rulemaking process is taking place in parallel with a larger conversation on outcomes in higher education. In the last month, leaders in higher education have cautioned the Department to take into consideration an institution’s mission and students served before arbitrarily applying policies. Comments include:
- U.C. Berkeley's new chancellor, Nicholas Dirks, said schools should not be rated based on the earnings of their graduates.
- Catharine B. Hill, president of Vassar College, noted that a ratings system based on earnings ignores the fact that earnings often increase over time.
- Harvard President Drew Faust said looking at the salary a college graduate earns in his or her first job as a proxy for the value of a college education is a huge mistake.
Their concerns with rating institutions and programs based on earnings are well founded considering an October 2013 National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report that found 26% of bachelor’s degree recipients at public four-year institutions, who were repaying their loans, faced monthly loan payments greater than 12% of their monthly income. At private non-profit institutions, 39% exceeded the 12% debt-to-earnings threshold and 35% at private sector institutions exceeded the threshold.
Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, released the following statement on the negotiated rulemaking session:
“If the Department continues with the current flawed regulation, they will deny millions of students access to postsecondary education, new skills, and good jobs. This will hamper the ability of our country to meet the President’s goal of closing the skills gap by increasing the number of Americans with postsecondary credentials – leaving employers without access to the skilled workforce they require.
“Student outcomes, program quality, eligibility, accountability and transparency are matters for Congress and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, a view that is supported by the higher education community.”