APSCU Letter to Secretary Duncan on Proposed Gainful Employment Regulation

Following the conclusion of the meetings between the Office of Management and Budget and key external stakeholders on the proposed gainful employment regulation, APSCU sent Secretary Duncan a letter outlining its concerns on the last version of the regulation. The letter also contained a list of modifications that can be made to minimize the harm to students, employers and the economy.

In short, the five fundamental flaws with the regulation are:

  1. The Department lacks the statutory authority to regulate student outcomes in this manner.
  2. The Department has failed to fully analyze the regulation’s impact on underserved students and in-demand programs. Furthermore, projections based on the limited data released by the Department show an unprecedented level of impact on millions of students and thousands of programs.
  3. Any regulation or legislation that addresses outcomes in postsecondary education must be forward looking and encompass all undergraduate students, in all programs, at all institutions, not just a select few.
  4. Any system of accountability must take into consideration the level of preparation and the characteristics of entering students, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
  5. Any data used by the Department to calculate metrics must protect student privacy, be statistically valid, transparent, and auditable by third parties and the institutions.

The five proposed modifications to reduce the impact on students, employers and the economy are:

  1. The programmatic cohort default rate should serve as an alternative to the debt-to-earnings metrics, consistent with the Department’s own concerns about sole reliance on debt-to-earnings leading to the closing of quality programs.
  2. The annual debt-to-earnings metric and discretionary debt-to-earnings metric should be set at levels supported by research rather than arbitrarily selected. The Department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a report showing that a 12 percent threshold is too low, yet the Department has arbitrarily proposed an even lower threshold of 8 percent.
  3. The amortization time period for the debt-to-earnings calculation should be at least 15 years for certificate/ associate degrees and 20 years for bachelor’s degrees – consistent with standard repayment patterns.
  4. The program cohort size should be 30, not 10, in order to protect against wide swings in results due to small numbers and to ensure statistical validity.
  5. Graduate programs should be excluded. Given the maturity of graduate students and their prior extensive experience with postsecondary education, graduate students are a completely distinct class of students compared to students enrolled in associate's degree, bachelor’s degree, or certificate programs.



U.S. Department of Education Regulation Denies Access to Millions of New Traditional Students Following the release of the final gainful employment regula…

Anti-Student Gainful Employment Regulation To Displace 7.5 Million Students At the conclusion of the U.S. Department of Education’s publ…

Bipartisan Opposition to Gainful Employment Grows In a rare act of bipartisanship, 18 Democrats and 18 Republi…


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.