“The other side should declare victory and go home,” he said. “The reality is every school that has a program that was failing gainful employment metrics — and they knew it couldn’t be fixed — they’ve already closed. The sector today is so much better.”
Former Obama administration officials said this was no time to leave the field.
“By withdrawing the gainful employment regulations, the Trump administration is once again choosing the interests of executives and shareholders of predatory for-profit higher education institutions over protecting students and taxpayers,” said John King, the Obama-era education secretary charged with enforcing the rule, who called the move “outrageous and irresponsible.”
Ms. DeVos has brought into her administration former for-profit leaders who are known for their strong opposition to the industry’s regulation.
Ethics filings show that Diane Auer Jones, a senior adviser on postsecondary education, lobbied against funding the rule while working for an operator of for-profit schools, Career Education Corporation. Another top-ranking official, Robert S. Eitel, who joined the department from a for-profit operator, Bridgepoint Education Inc., when it faced multiple government investigations. Mr. Eitel, who has also opposed the gainful employment regulations, recused himself from weighing in on the rule.
“Rescinding the rule is a derogation of the department’s duty to protect students from exploitation and taxpayers from the waste of federal funds,” said the New York attorney general, Barbara D. Underwood, whose office joined 17 other state attorneys general that sued the department for delaying its enforcement.
The 2014 rule required for-profit institutions to measure how much debt their students incurred against their post-graduation earnings and ordered them to disclose their failing marks in advertisements. A year ago, Ms. DeVos delayed those parts of the regulations for taking effect.
But one part of the rule that had already been put into place has identified hundreds of failing programs, many of which went on to shut their doors after they were measured against the new standards, according to an analysis by New America Foundation. That regulation will also be eliminated. In the first assessment of college graduates’ debt-to-earnings ratios, about 800 programs, or 10 percent of those examined, had failed to meet the requirements laid out in the gainful employment rule, the department announced; of those, 98 percent were for-profits.