Attorney General Josh Stein yesterday sued the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos for refusing to enforce the Gainful Employment Rule, a federal regulation designed to protect students from predatory for-profit schools.
“Students are working hard to create a better future for themselves,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “For-profit colleges must shoot straight with students about the promises they make. The Department of Education has unlawfully undermined this key principle so today I took Secretary Betsy DeVos to court to protect students.”
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that the Department of Education violated federal law by refusing to enforce the Gainful Employment Rule. The Gainful Employment Rule empowers prospective students to make informed decisions by requiring schools to provide information about the program’s average debt load, the loan repayment rate of all students who enroll in the program, the percentage of students who graduate from the program, the number of graduates who obtain employment in a field related to the program, and the average earnings of graduates.
The Gainful Employment Rule also assesses whether schools’ programs provide education and training to their students that lead to earnings that will allow students to pay back their student loan debts. If the programs fail the objective metrics, federal student loans and grants would no longer be provided to those programs.
On July 5, 2017 and August 18, 2017, the Department announced its intent to delay large portions of the Gainful Employment Rule without soliciting, receiving, or responding to any comment from any stakeholder or member of the public, and without engaging in a public deliberative process. The Department has also publicly stated that it has no plans to calculate the necessary metrics to determine whether programs are failing the Gainful Employment Rule’s minimum requirements. State attorneys general argue in their lawsuit that the delays have no legal justification and the Department’s actions are “arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.”
Attorney General Josh Stein was joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington in filing today’s lawsuit.