Higher education stakeholders gathered for the final negotiated rulemaking session on gainful employment struggled to make progress toward a consensus on Monday, as discussions jumped between topics and slowed on several details around how and for which groups of students the regulations would be applied.
During the first day of the third and final negotiated rulemaking, or neg reg, session, the Department of Education (ED) presented its proposed changes to draft regulatory language. Previously, ED had proposed applying the gainful employment rule to all educational programs. A central proposal in the new regulatory language is to change that scope to apply to just undergraduate programs, excluding graduate programs. ED also proposed including a loan repayment rate in addition to debt-to-earnings ratios to evaluate the student outcomes of various programs. The specifics of calculating that rate, however, are still to be determined.
The committee began by discussing the scope and purpose of the regulations—and whether excluding graduate programs could be justified—but switched gears to review other issue papers on debt-to-earnings and repayment rate metrics, as well as any sanctions to be imposed on schools not meeting the proposed benchmarks. Several negotiators said it would be difficult to discuss the scope and purpose of the regulations without first going through the other issues.