Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos dismantled two major regulations today that were designed to protect students at for-profit universities. In a statement, Secretary DeVos said the laws didn’t accomplish what they set out to do, and, “the result is a muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools, and puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs.”
“It’s time to take a step back and make sure these rules achieve their purpose: helping harmed students. It’s time for a regulatory reset,” the statement continued. Taken together with previous decisions by Secretary DeVos, today’s announcement will increase borrowing costs, and expose student to more interest and financial penalties if graduates can’t get hired and start making loan payments.
The two protections she scrapped were the gainful employment rule, and the borrower defense to repayment rule. The gainful employment rule sought to ensure that degree programs offered at for-profit universities actually made their graduates hirable in the field of their degree, and that the jobs they could reasonably expect to attain came with salaries that allowed them to pay back their student loans.
The borrower defense to repayment rule sought to protect student loan holders from predatory lenders at for-profit institutions, and grants them more rights to sue. The rule also specifies protections of students at institutes that fail, like the Corinthian Colleges, Inc. collapse of 2014, where 85 schools closed their doors.
For-profit universities have lobbied against both rules since they were instituted, arguing that they constitute an undue burden on their industry. They also feel they aren’t designed to protect students at all, but were instead created by teachers unions and elements within traditional academia fearful that for-profit schools threatened their monopoly on higher education.
At best, Secretary DeVos’ move today is just another example of the Trump Administration’s misguided belief in “addition by subtraction,” where somehow killing Obama era regulations actually counts as an accomplishment. At worst, it’s confirmation that the President intends to take a wrecking ball to any and all regulations he doesn’t like, and that he hired the controversial DeVos to do just that with our country’s education system.
With a President in the Oval Office who once ran a for-profit real estate university – and a phony one at that – and an Education Secretary who’s spent her adult life trying to defund public K-12 schools, the for-profit education industry must be salivating.