US Department of Education Strips Protection for Students at For-Profit Colleges

Media Contacts
Chris Lindstrom

U.S. PIRG Says Rollback Will Result in More Defrauded Students


Washington, DC: Christine Lindstrom, Higher Education Program Director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) today released a statement on the decision by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to allow for-profit colleges to publish data on the earnings that their graduates make in ways that may misrepresent the truth.

“With today’s revision of the Gainful Employment Rule, Secretary DeVos made the target on the backs of students much larger for easier aim by unscrupulous colleges and their Wall Street investors.

Against a backdrop of $1 trillion in student loan debt, which continues to drag on individual borrowers and the economy as a whole, students have desperately needed protections such as those put in place by the ‘Gainful Employment’ Rule to assess their earnings potential against the debt that they may assume when enrolling in a career program offered at a for-profit college. DeVos’ rollback of the way that this earning data can be presented to prospective students makes it more likely that these colleges will manipulate it in order to dupe students into enrolling.”

While for-profit colleges enroll just 12 percent of the total student population, they have an outsized impact on student loan debt. Twenty colleges account for one-fifth of all student debt, and ten of those twenty are for-profits. Many are run by companies to earn money for their owners and investors, recruiting low-income students who bring with them high amounts of federal aid dollars. Such schools spent little on educational quality but posted high profit margins for investors through the federal student aid program. Meanwhile, graduates carry worthless degrees that provide no career boost while incurring heavy student loan burdens, a situation that can keep them in financial straits for a lifetime, Lindstrom added.
U.S. PIRG is a non-partisan, non-profit consumer organization that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. On the web at