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Dept. of Education’s Draft Gainful Employment Rule Ignores Students and Weakens Consumer Protections


March 14, 2014

Contact: Colin Seeberger,, 214.223.2913

Young Invincibles’ Statement on Dept. of Education’s Draft Gainful Employment Rule

Dept.’s Proposed Rule Ignores the Advice of Students & Would Weaken Consumer Protections

[WASHINGTON]—Today, the Department of Education released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Gainful Employment Regulations.

Rory O’Sullivan, Policy and Research Director at Young Invincibles and the lead student negotiator during the 2013 negotiated rulemaking released the following statement:

“We’re deeply disappointed that, rather than strengthen the prior draft, the Department weakened protections for students in several ways. Most disturbingly, it completely eliminated financial debt relief for students who attended failing programs. The Department proposes to continue using real life students like crash test dummies to determine whether thousands of gainful employment programs are safe for human use. In the meantime, students continue to rack up debt at dismal programs with little hope of a decent career when they leave, all with a seal of approval from the Department of Education. Students deserve better.

“The draft rule maintains several flaws from the earlier version including debt to earnings standards that would allow thousands of programs to receive financial aid whose graduates’ debt payments are greater than their entire discretionary incomes. Further, programs where nearly every student drops out with high levels of debt could still receive federal funding.”

Moreover, today’s draft weakens student protections compared to the previous version in the following ways:

1)    Eliminates debt relief for students attending poorly performing programs;

2)    Weakens the debt-to-earnings standards for Bachelors and Graduate degree programs;

3)    Exempts small programs from the debt-to-earnings standards;

4)    Eliminates enrollment restrictions for failing programs;

5)    Creates loopholes that allow institutions to manipulate accountability metrics by reenrolling students for as little as a day;

6)    Weakens requirements to consider market need or standard hiring conditions before creating a gainful employment program.


Young Invincibles is a national organization committed to amplifying the voices of young adults, ages 18 to 34, and expanding economic opportunity for our generation. Young Invincibles ensures that young adults are represented in today’s most pressing societal debates through cutting-edge policy research and analysis, and innovative campaigns designed to educate, inform and mobilize our generation to change the status quo.