Education Dept. Launches Regulatory Rewrite Process

This week, the U.S. Education Department held the first of two public hearings on key Obama-era higher education regulations aimed at reining in abuses by colleges. Monday’s hearing marked the beginning of the process of reworking the gainful employment and borrower defense-to-repayment rules, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

The borrower defense regulation intended to allow borrowers who feel they have been defrauded by their college or program to have a simpler process for having their student loans forgiven by the federal government. Meanwhile, the gainful employment regulation sought to hold career-preparation programs accountable for the outcomes of their graduates. Specifically, if the estimated loan payments of a program's graduates exceed a certain percentage of their income over a period of years, then the program would risk losing federal student aid.

In June, the department announced plans to block the borrower defense rule and restart the rulemaking process for both regulations. Monday's public hearing marked the beginning of the process of reworking the gainful employment and borrower defense-to-repayment rules.

Through nearly seven hours of comments, the recommendations tended to fall into one of two categories: Carry out the rules as written, or renegotiate the rules to ensure "equity" across all sectors, the Chronicle reported. Advocates for the regulations as written argued that, while they are not perfect, they had been through an extensive rule-making process and would protect students and student-loan borrowers from bad-actor institutions. Those who praised the decision to rework the regulations saw it as an opportunity to create a more equitable system—and perhaps one that was not as punitive.

The department is hosting another public hearing on the rewrites on Wednesday at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Later this year, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will appoint separate negotiated rulemaking committees to consider each of the rules.

 

Related Links

The Chronicle of Higher Education

http://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Will-the-Feds-Protect/240588