Dear Secretary Duncan,
In light of last week’s Executive Order from President Barack Obama directing the Federal government to “avoid excessive, inconsistent and redundant regulation,” we are writing to ask that you set aside the “gainful employment” proposal that your Department has been developing. We respectfully ask that you instead focus the Department’s energies on advancing policies that make career colleges and universities more accessible to students.
As you know, the “gainful employment” proposal imposes repayment standards on Federal student loans that would result in the elimination of financial aid for as many as 360,000 students at career colleges and universities. These proposed standards violate the spirit of the President’s Executive Order by placing an excessive burden on the full-time workers, single parents, returning veterans and the disabled who often attend career colleges and universities.
These students enroll in career colleges and universities to get the specialized training and skills they need to acquire and retain jobs. Since many of them enter school from modest- or low-income backgrounds, they are more likely to take on student loan debt on their path to graduation. If the “gainful employment” rule advances, these students will be unable to pursue the opportunities provided by career colleges. Indeed, many of these schools may even be forced to close their doors as Pittsburgh’s Le Cordon Bleu announced just last week.
As you know, unemployment is stubbornly stuck at over nine percent and those looking for work need every advantage possible. But this rule would perversely stand in the way of unemployed Americans who are taking responsibility for their future by working toward a degree in a specialized field requiring both study and training.
We are sure that you would agree that government should not erect barriers that get in the way of honest Americans trying to secure work. Accordingly, we hope that you will set the “gainful employment” proposal aside and work with us to improve access to career colleges and universities. Thank you for your consideration.
Student Access Student Choice Coalition (SASC)