ATG NEWS RELEASE: Hawaii joins coalition of 18 states suing the U.S. Department of Education for refusing to enforce gainful employment rule

Posted on Oct 17, 2017 in Latest News

HONOLULU – Attorney General Doug Chin today joined a coalition of 18 states led by Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and Pennsylvania Attorney General Joshua Shapiro in suing the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos for refusing to enforce the Gainful Employment Rule, a federal regulation designed to protect students from predatory for-profit schools.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that the Department of Education violated federal law by refusing to enforce the Gainful Employment Rule. That rule implements the requirement in the Higher Education Act that all for-profit schools, all vocational schools, and non-degree programs at all other schools “prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.”

Attorney General Chin said, “Unfortunately we keep seeing this Administration undermine protections for the very students it is supposed to be serving. In this case it violates the law and we have stepped in to stop it.”

The Gainful Employment Rule empowers prospective students to make informed decisions. It does this by requiring schools to provide information about the program’s average debt load, the loan repayment rate of all students who enroll in the program, the percentage of students who graduate from the program, the number of graduates who obtain employment in a field related to the program, and the average earnings of graduates. Additionally, the rule assesses whether schools’ programs provide education and training to their students that lead to earnings that will allow students to pay back their student loan debts. If the programs fail the objective metrics, federal student loans and grants would no longer be provided to those programs.

On July 5, 2017 and August 18, 2017, the Department announced its intent to delay large portions of the Gainful Employment Rule. It made this announcement without soliciting, receiving, or responding to any comment from any stakeholder or member of the public, and without engaging in a public deliberative process. The Department has also stated that it has no plans to calculate the necessary metrics to determine whether programs are failing the Gainful Employment Rule’s minimum requirements. The attorneys general argue in the lawsuit filed today that the delays have no legal justification and the Department’s actions are “arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion.” The complaint asks the court to declare the Department’s delay notices unlawful and to order the Department to implement the Gainful Employment Rule.

Attorneys General Frosh, Shapiro, and Chin were joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington in filing today’s lawsuit.

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For more information, contact:

Joshua A. Wisch

Special Assistant to the Attorney General

(808) 586-1284

Email: Joshua.A.Wisch@hawaii.gov

Web: http://ag.hawaii.gov

Twitter: @ATGHIgov