Proposed Gainful Employment Regulation Puts Thousands of Programs Serving More Than 200,000 Students At Risk

Washington, D.C., September 5, 2013—The U.S. Department of Education has proposed a new gainful employment regulation that goes well beyond the scope and impact of the previously promulgated regulation and places at risk 2,000 postsecondary education programs that currently serve more than 200,000 students.

This proposal more than doubles the number of programs required to report employment data of graduates and would nearly double the number of programs that fail to reach an arbitrary benchmark. Such a regulation will only worsen the economic divide in America, while doing little to improve access, opportunity, and outcomes for students.

"There should be no doubt about the department's true intention here. This regulation, developed by the department for consideration by a panel of negotiators stacked with individuals opposed to the very existence of our institutions, will cut off access to postsecondary education for the students who stand to benefit the most," said Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. 

"At a time when America is facing a growing skills gap, and many Americans are facing an opportunity gap, the department should be working with all sectors of higher education to promote access, simplification, and accountability. Instead, the department is continuing down the path of eliminating opportunity and choice for many new traditional students who are simply not interested in attending a four-year university. We will not idly standby and allow the department to limit access to critical postsecondary education programs that address the skills gaps and capacity gaps that exist in this country."

The Education Department rejected many proposed alternatives that would have avoided entering a regulatory process that applies mostly to private sector institutions and community colleges. "The department should suspend negotiated rulemaking and appropriately focus on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and the president's proposal. That is how we will create meaningful change that puts the interests and outcomes of students first," added Gunderson.

Background on APSCU Alternative Proposals
In March 2013, APSCU released a comprehensive proposal on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. APSCU recommended an improved approach to eligibility and participation in federal student financial aid programs. The proposal focuses on measurement of student progression through postsecondary education and eventual outcomes that allow students and taxpayers to conclude whether institutions and education programs are indeed delivering an acceptable return on investment. Such quantitative indicators include:

  • retention and progression rates
  • completion and return on investment
  • employment of graduates
  • earnings and/or salary gains
  • graduate satisfaction

In August 2013, APSCU released Best Practices in Career Services and Placement that provide recommendations to all postsecondary institutions for enhancing employment opportunities. The recommendations were developed after the release, in March 2013, of APSCU’s Best Practices for Military and Veteran Students, which was positively received by stakeholders across all of higher education and the military and veterans community.

In December 2013, APSCU will host its first annual workforce symposium in Washington, D.C., “From Education to Employment.” The symposium will convene the nation’s workforce and postsecondary education thought leaders for a national dialogue on ways to improve access and outcomes in postsecondary education and help more Americans join the workforce.



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800k graduates

PSCUs open doors to many of the 9.1 million unemployed and 90 million undereducated Americans by providing a skills-based education. To remain competitive over the next decade, we must identify between 8 and 23 million new workers with postsecondary skills.PSCUs are a necessary part of that solution, having produced over 800,000 degrees last year alone.