Durbin Statement on Department of Education's New Gainful Employment Rule

Following the Trump Administration’s move to rescind the rule, Durbin has repeatedly called for a stronger version of the Gainful Employment rule to be reinstated

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement commending the Department of Education’s fortified Gainful Employment rule:  

“Under the Trump Administration, when the Gainful Employment rule was eliminated, for-profit colleges had free rein to prey on students and raked in heaps of Title IV funding without adequate oversight.  We saw the damage these for-profit programs – or more appropriately called ‘scams’ – caused students when they went unchecked.  Students were buried in debt and left with nothing but a near useless degree.

“The Biden Administration’s Gainful Employment rule provides necessary protections for students, and is welcome news.  This marks the strongest accountability framework for career training programs yet.  Students nationwide stand to benefit as the revitalized rule will finally ensure program integrity, proper oversight, and accountability for postsecondary programs.” 

The Biden Administration’s new rule uses a two-prong approach to analyze whether an education program qualifies for Title IV federal funding.  First, the career training program must ensure graduates are not saddled with unreasonable debt or unable to earn wages that are higher than a high school graduate who did not receive a postsecondary education in their state.  Second, the new Gainful Employment rule will use a Financial Value Transparency (FVT) framework to provide potential students detailed information about the total costs of postsecondary programs and their potential financial outcomes.  This will assist students in understanding the full risk involved in each available program by requiring students to acknowledge receiving this information before enrolling in education programs that have a track record of burdening students with unaffordable debt levels.

The Gainful Employment rule uses a debt-to-earnings (DTE) ratio and an earnings premium (EP) test to determine whether career education programs, including all programs at for-profit colleges, are providing value and preparing their students for “gainful employment.” The Obama Administration put the Gainful Employment rule into effect in 2014, but under the Trump Administration, then-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded the Gainful Employment rule in 2019.  Without the Gainful Employment rule in place, for-profit colleges have been able to prey on students, leaving them with debt and a worthless degree. 

In June, Durbin led six of his colleagues in supporting the now-finalized rule in a letter to Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.