APSCU: Harris Miller
February 18, 2011
We Win an Important Battle…But Just a Battle…More Work to Be Done to Protect Student Choice
The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a bipartisan amendment to prevent the U.S. Department of Education from bypassing Congress to implement the “gainful employment” regulation. The proposed regulation would restrict access to federal aid for over two million students at private sector colleges and universities in the next ten years. APSCU urges Congress to include the amendment as part of the final Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Resolution legislation.
The Kline-Foxx-Hastings-McCarthy-Payne amendment prevents the Department of Education from using federal funds through September 30, 2011 to implement the highly controversial "gainful employment" regulation. The amendment passed on a vote of 289 to136.
The House vote sends a strong message to the Department: keep the door to opportunity open to the millions of non-traditional students who want options in higher education.
Policy ideas exist for reducing student over-borrowing and lowering default rates. These include:
· allowing financial aid officers to tell students ‘no’ when they are over-borrowing, an action not permitted under current law;
· assuring that loan servicing is working properly and not allowing borrowers to fall through the cracks;
· expanding the scope of income based repayment and loan forgiveness to encompass a larger number of in-demand fields.
APSCU believes that any changes should come out of the legislative process, should cover all colleges and universities, should be focused on real outcomes, such as completion rates, and be subject to vigorous debate and public scrutiny.
But Disagreement Over Gainful Employment Continues
While the vote in the House is a critical first step to slowing the gainful employment train down, the train has not stopped. Detractors will redouble their efforts to kill the amendment, working to assure that the provision is dropped from the Continuing Resolution in a House/Senate conference on this “must pass” spending bill, required to keep the government operating after March 4, 2011, when the current Continuing Resolution expires.
So now attention shifts to the Senate and the Senate/House/White House negotiations on the final bill. APSCU is in active conversations with Congressional higher education leaders, Administration officials, and other stakeholders about the most constructive ways to ensure that students and taxpayers get the best return on their investments, and that will continue. APSCU shares the Department’s goal of having the best higher education system in the world.
APSCU will continue to push for inclusion of the amendment in the final CR and looks forward to working with Congress and the Department on mechanisms that more effectively and appropriately address the issue of excessive student debt.
Kudos to the many, many schools, faculty, administrators, students, graduates and employers who hire our graduates--all who lit up the phones—and the scoreboard—with their calls to Congress on this important amendment.