Congress Members Identify Potential Barriers for At-Risk Students

In March, eighteen House of Representative members sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to the Department of Education in opposition to the proposed “Gainful Employment” rule.   As I have previously stated, one version of the proposed rule restricts Title IV financial aid if a student’s starting salary does not meet a debt-to-earnings ratio test of 8%.

We all want to reduce student debt. But, some Members of Congress have clearly seen the effect of an arbitrary percentage in the proposed rule, and they have identified it as a pressing problem. The letter outlined the following:

“The Department’s suggested approach will disproportionately harm these nontraditional and lower-income students who have no choice but to rely on student loans to pursue a postsecondary education and need the flexibility career colleges provide.


Higher education needs more competition and more capacity to expand access, improve quality, and prepare the 21st century workforce, not less.  The Department’s suggested approach detracts from the ability of deserving Americans to compete in the global economy.”

There are currently 2.8 million students attending career colleges. We need to expand educational opportunities and career choices for these students, not establish an arbitrary percentage that builds new barriers for at-risk students who have chosen these institutions. Limiting student choice will only limit their potential, and unfortunately, the collective potential of our nation.

The Dear Colleague letter to the Department of Education was signed by the following members:

Congressman Donald M. Payne

Congressman John Kline

Congressman Alcee L. Hastings

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy

Congressman Jason Altmire

Congressman Joe Courtney

Congressman Brett Guthrie

Congressman Howard P. McKeon

Congressman Baron P. Hill

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Congressman Mark E. Souder

Congresswoman Corrine Brown

Congresswoman Judy Biggert

Congressman Ron Klein

Congresswoman Suzanne M. Kosmas

Congressman Phil Roe

Congressman Devin Nunes

Congressman Brad Ellsworth


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