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In Latest 'Shameful Abdication' of Duty to Students, DeVos Moves to 'Unshackle' For-Profit Colleges Peddling Useless Degrees

"There is no line Secretary DeVos won't cross to pad the pockets of for-profit colleges."

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos moved to roll back regulations on low-performing for-profit college programs, which leave graduates with degrees that do little to help them find gainful employment. (Photo: Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr/cc)

In her latest move aimed at propping up the for-profit education corporations in which she herself has invested, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday moved to rescind a rule which has held for-profit colleges accountable for the expensive, often fruitless degrees their students were fraudulently peddled.

The Department of Education (DOE) unveiled a plan to eliminate the Obama-era gainful employment rule, which beginning in 2015 forced for-profit institutions to prove that their graduates could use their degrees to secure jobs—as the schools aggressively, yet misleadingly, advertised—that would allow them to support themselves and pay back their taxpayer-funded loans.

The department was sued last year by 18 state attorneys general, including Barbara Underwood in New York, for delaying implementation of the rule, which was meant to revoke federal funding and financial aid from under-performing for-profit schools.

In announcing that she would rescind the rule, DeVos attempted to divert attention away from the for-profit education industry—which has been accused of defrauding tens of thousands of students—by offering to provide students with career placement, earnings, and debt information regarding all U.S. colleges and universities including public and private schools.

While the student loan crisis and falling wages affect graduates of not-for-profit schools as well as businesses like the ones targeted by the gainful employment rule, studies including one by the National Bureau of Economic Research have found that graduates of schools like the Corinthian Colleges chain have worse outcomes than those of public or private colleges and universities.  

The proposed elimination of the gainful employment rule, which is subject to a 30-day comment period and is planned to go into effect next July, is the latest move in DeVos's multi-pronged effort to protect for profit institutions from being held accountable for defrauding students. Last month she unveiled a plan to make it harder for students of for profit colleges to get debt relief.

"Her extreme proposal to rescind this rule is further proof that there is no line Secretary DeVos won't cross to pad the pockets of for-profit colleges—even leaving students and taxpayers to foot the bill," said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

Author John Dean noted that DeVos's repeated handouts to the for-profit education industry is unsurprising given her financial interests in the business.

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