As Gainful-Employment Talks Resume, Education Dept. Is Mum on Appeal

May 21, 2013

With a second round of rule-making sessions on the Education Department's controversial "gainful employment" regulation set to begin on Tuesday, officials at the agency aren't saying if they'll continue to defend their first draft.

Officially, the department had until midnight Monday to appeal a federal judge's 2012 decision that blocked key parts of the original rule before they took effect. Asked on Monday afternoon if it planned to do so, a department spokeswoman declined to comment.

The gainful-employment rule, published in 2011, would have cut off federal student aid to career-oriented programs whose graduates had high debt-to-income ratios and low loan-repayment rates. But for-profit colleges challenged the rule, and last summer the federal judge largely agreed with them.

Last month, with the deadline for filing an appeal approaching, the department announced that it would revisit the rule as part of an expanded rule-making process focused on fraud in the student-aid system. The department scheduled four hearings to solicit feedback on the topic from the public, the first of which will take place here on Tuesday.