Low Blow to Higher Education; Obama Regulation Would Restrict Flexible Learning for Nontraditional Students

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 27, 2011 | Go to article overview

Low Blow to Higher Education; Obama Regulation Would Restrict Flexible Learning for Nontraditional Students


Byline: Arthur Keiser, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Department of Education's gainful employment rule has moved from threat to reality. And that reality will be a giant step backward for nontraditional students seeking to improve their employment prospects through higher education. So what does this new regulation really mean?

By conditioning federal loans on a student's debt-to-income ratio and the repayment rate of his for-profit institution, the department will deny Americans across the country access to postsecondary education programs. As a result, those Americans will lose opportunities for better jobs and better lives for themselves and their families.

It means the Obama administration has established special rules to single out those pursuing career-focused education. As such, it means that the real challenges of limiting debt among college graduates will continue unabated.

It also means the administration is pulling back from its goal of increasing access to higher education for more Americans. In fact, even calling this regulation gainful employment is an attempt to frame it as a positive move when, in practice, it will be hurtful to millions of students and limit their employment opportunities. A more accurate description would be to call it the gambling with education rule.

The Department of Education clearly made some changes to the earlier version of this rule - thanks in large part to the impressive efforts of private-sector college and university students, who held their first-ever rally on Capitol Hill last year. But the department is still exceeding its statutory authority by issuing the rule, and we still don't know how many of the 3.2 million students attending private-sector colleges and universities it will impact. We do know that the rule contradicts the president's 2020 challenge for U.S. leadership in postsecondary education, the need to build a more globally competitive work force to protect jobs and the American middle class, the intent of Congress to provide the opportunity for all Americans to gain upward mobility through higher-education access, and the determination by the Obama administration to eliminate unnecessary and burdensome regulation. …

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