A recent Inside Higher Ed article from ponders the true significance of gainful employment.
Recent legislation has prompted colleges and universities to consider what it means to be gainfully employed. But they need not worry too much; the recent legislation is a toned-down version of what the Education Department originally attempted to pass.
Consumer advocates found it hard to hide their disappointment upon hearing of the watered-down rules for gainful employment.
Criticisms aside, however, the gainful employment rule, the Inside Higher Ed article reports, "represents a powerful and game-changing shift in how the federal government looks at higher education." Why? Because the agency has written into federal policy a direct attempt to measure the value of an academic program by "linking a measure of student expenditure (student loan debt burden) with an outcome measure (graduates' average income)."
The gainful employment rule is nothing new: It's been used for close to 40 years as a result of the Higher Education Act. Only recently has it been speculated that for-profit universities would be disproportionately hurt by the application of the gainful employment rule. But as it stands, the watered-down gainful employment rule has set the bar for full compliance so low that almost every school, not matter how seemingly corrupt, will be able to meet it.
Critics say that the for-profits would be "crazy" not to go along with the current gainful employment rule.
And it's only a matter of time before the gainful employment rule is extended to all colleges. In light of constantly increasing tuition, it only makes sense that colleges and universities should prove that their students receive a quality product for their money.