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Education Dept. Delays Compliance Deadline for Gainful-Employment Rules

Updated (7/1/2017, 9:34 a.m.) with additional reaction.

The U.S. Department of Education will give colleges and universities an extra year, until July 1, 2018, to comply with the controversial gainful-employment regulations by reporting certain data to the department, it announced late Friday afternoon in a news release.

The regulations aim to judge career-training programs based on the debt of graduates relative to their earnings. Programs with failing gainful-employment numbers can risk losing access to federal student aid.

Colleges with such programs originally had until July 1, 2017, to provide the department with information on the distribution of gainful-employment data to current students and, in promotional materials, to prospective students, according to the news release. The change will allow institutions more time to comply with the regulations.

“Since their creation under the previous administration, gainful-employment regulations have been repeatedly challenged by educational institutions and overturned by the courts, underscoring the need for a regulatory reset,” said the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, in the news release.

This month the department also announced it would restart a negotiated rule-making process in order to change the regulations.

Criticism of the department’s announcement on Friday came swiftly from John B. King Jr., president and chief executive of the Education Trust and President Barack Obama’s education secretary.

“Today’s delay of parts of Gainful Employment,” he said in a written statement, “will give unscrupulous career-college programs carte blanche to prey on students — especially those who are most vulnerable. These regulations were crafted to protect students from weak career-education programs that leave students underprepared for success and with enormous amounts of debt, and to ensure the proper stewardship of billions in federal taxpayer dollars. Delaying any part of them is wrong.”

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, accused Ms. DeVos of having given “predatory for-profit schools more time to take advantage of students, bilk taxpayers, and hide information about perpetually poor-performing programs from the public.”

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