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U.S. Dept. of Education issues long-awaited rule defining gainful employment

NEA president says for-profit companies need to make students top priority


WASHINGTON - June 02, 2011 -

The National Education Association (NEA) is encouraged by the U.S. Department of Education’s issuance today of rules defining “gainful employment” when determining eligibility for federal student aid for for-profits and non-degree programs.

According to the Department of Education, nearly half of all student loan defaults involve students who were enrolled in for-profit programs. Notably, 25 percent of for-profit schools receive 80 percent of their revenue from federally funded student aid. 

Investigations conducted by the Government Accountability Office revealed questionable practices by some for-profit colleges including deceptive and aggressive recruitment practices; inflated job placement rates and false reporting to authorities; overstatement of  program value and understatement of program  cost; and dismal completion rates.  Many victims of the abuses are women, low-income students, minority students, and veterans seeking to further their education and enhance their employment opportunities.

“We must promote the use of federal student aid for programs that give students hope of a brighter future.  Completion of career-focused programs should give students real prospects without excessive debt. Our goal must be to increase student access to quality and affordable education. Our nation’s public 2- and 4-year colleges lead in this regard. We do not have to sacrifice quality for convenience and accessibility,” said Van Roekel.  “This rule advances the common-sense principle that federal financial aid should go to career education programs that consistently provide what they promise and don’t leave students buried in debt they cannot repay.  We look forward to further consideration of this critical issue with Sen. Harkin.”

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing
3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Sara Robertson  (202) 822-7823, srobertson@nea.org