Secretary of Education Promises 'Thoughtful' Gainful Employment Rule in Next Couple of Months

April 05, 2011

The long-awaited and hotly debated "gainful employment" rule will be finalized in the next month or two, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told Education Department employees today.

"We are very, very close to a final recommendation," Mr. Duncan said at an employee-recognition event today at the Office of Federal Student Aid. The final regulation, he added, will be "much more thoughtful and much better for the country" than the department's draft rule, released last July.

The secretary did not provide any details on changes that will be made to the rule, which would tie a program's eligibility to award federal student aid to its borrowers' debt-to-income ratios and loan-repayment rates. Approached by a reporter after the event, Mr. Duncan declined to say whether the final rule would retain the debt-to-income and loan-repayment calculations.

Still, Mr. Duncan hinted that the department is refining the rule to better target the "bad actors" in the for-profit sector. Critics of the original rule have complained that it would force for-profits to shutter successful programs in high-need fields in which starting salaries are low.

"We're trying to walk a fine line to make sure the good actors are supported and bad actors can't take advantage of people trying to better their lives," he said.