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U.S. Gives Colleges More Time for Appeals Under Gainful-Employment Rule

The U.S. Department of Education on Monday announced that it was giving colleges more time to submit appeals regarding data that is connected to the enforcement of the Obama administration’s hotly contested gainful-employment rule.

Lynn Mahaffie, the acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education, said that the action was being taken “to allow the department to further review the GE regulations and their implementation.”

Many people have speculated that President Trump will withdraw the rule, which was a pillar of the Obama administration’s crackdown on for-profit colleges. Monday’s announcement constituted an early signal that President Trump may indeed ease up on the beleaguered for-profit sector. The sector’s supporters have hoped for a reversal of fortunes under the new administration, and stock prices of companies that operate for-profit institutions have risen since Mr. Trump’s election.

The regulation is intended to judge career-oriented programs, based on the debt of their graduates relative to those graduates’ earnings. Programs that fail the department’s gainful-employment test risk losing access to federal student aid. In January the department released debt-to-earnings data on thousands of programs, and found that more than 800 of them — nearly all at for-profit institutions — failed its standards.

The department said on Monday that colleges seeking to appeal their debt-to-earnings figures had been required to submit documents by this Friday. However, the announcement stated that the deadline was being extended to July 1. Similarly, the department pushed back a deadline for colleges to comply with certain disclosure requirements, also to July 1.

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