Association of Proprietary Colleges Releases Video Critical of Gainful Employment Rule

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Short Video Questions Department's Approach to Regulatory Oversight

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The Association of Proprietary Colleges, a membership group representing New York’s degree-granting, proprietary (or privately held) colleges, today released a whiteboard animation video intended to illustrate the shortcomings of the Department of Education's Gainful Employment Rule and the metrics underlying it. The video can be found here.

The DOE released its proposed Gainful Employment Rule last March. The Rule seeks to address increased concerns about poorly performing higher education programs, many of which are characterized by low graduation rates and student populations with significant student loan debt. The Rule that the DOE unveiled has been met with criticism by APC and others for focusing primarily on proprietary ("for-profit") institutions and using atypical metrics to assess program value. Programs must pass these metrics or risk losing their eligibility for federal student aid.

Titled "Gainful Employment's Failing Grade", APC's newly released whiteboard-style video challenges the soundness of the DOE's approach to Gainful Employment. The four-and-a-half minute video is designed to succinctly outline the disconnect between the DOE's published goals for developing the GE Rule and the metrics proposed, and its unintended, detrimental consequences on the students and programs it impacts.

The video highlights the inappropriateness of judging a bachelor degree program on the earnings of its students just 18 months after graduation and suggests that the proposed Rule cannot accurately measure program quality without including a graduation metric. As the video demonstrates, the result is that programs with abysmally low graduation rates evade the reach of the Rule.

Two separate studies issued this year have questioned the DOE's approach. The Parthenon Group, a global strategy consultancy, was commissioned to determine whether the Gainful Employment Rule truly reflects program quality. As reported ("The Parthenon Group’s Study Finds Department of Education Gainful Employment Regulations Based on Flawed Analysis; Proposed Gainful Employment Metrics Unfairly Penalize Schools that Serve Minorities and Low-Income Students"), they concluded that it does not and that the Department achieved its desired conclusion “by inexplicably omitting various student characteristics from its analysis – characteristics that the Department’s own previous studies had firmly established were important factors in measuring students’ success.”

Another study, this one by Mark Schneider, the former Commissioner at the National Center for Education Statistics and a leading authority on education policy, found that more than one-quarter of Texas bachelor’s programs and as many as 54 percent of the degree programs at the highly respected University of Texas would fail the proposed Gainful Employment metrics if they had to comply. As a public institution, however, its degree programs are not beholden to the GE rule. The study, however, supports contentions that the use of debt-to-earnings rates and program cohort default rate (pCDR) metrics to measure a program’s success are arbitrary and capricious, and do not adequately assess program value.

"APC wholeheartedly endorses the Department of Education's initiative to introduce regulations that will shut down poorly performing programs that are not doing right by students or taxpayers," said Donna Stelling-Gurnett, Executive Director of The Association of Proprietary Colleges. "However, it is imperative that we get behind the right metrics, which cannot be assessed in light of the Department's failure to release the data that supports what they are proposing. Given the serious questions raised about the metrics they created as their yardsticks, we call on them once again to release all comparable data for all colleges and universities so that independent assessments can be conducted on the rationality and impact of the DOE's Gainful Employment Rule."


The Association of Proprietary Colleges (APC), the only state organization that exclusively represents degree-granting proprietary colleges, promotes educational best practices and advocates for a regulatory environment that helps students achieve their goals. APC represents 25 degree-granting colleges on 41 campuses across the state, serving more than 50,000 students. Additionally, APC colleges employ approximately 6,500 people in the State of New York. Follow us on Twitter @APCColleges.

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Emma Smith
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