June 12, 2023

NPRM Comment Period Has Less Than Two Weeks Left

NPRM Comment Period Has Less Than Two Weeks Left

As previously reported, a 1077-page Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published by the Department in late May.  Public comments to the proposed rules are due by June 20, 2023 and must be filed through the regulations portal.  You can get direct access to read previously submitted comments and to file your own by clicking here.

Several industry partners have published valuable information and guidance regarding the proposed rules.  I encourage you to visit these sites.  Duane Morris, LLP (GEMCOR’s legal representatives) has a great analysis and breakdown of the proposals.  I encourage you to read its publication available here.

CooleyED, another organization with an expansive education law practice, also has information I found to be informative and helpful.  You can view its contribution here.

Lastly, the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) has created an extremely helpful and user-friendly site with all of the information one needs to get educated on the topics, identify talking points for comment submission, as well as links to create and submit comments.  That site is www.aacs.news/gainful.

As you may recall, the USDE’s attempt to define “gainful employment” through extensive regulatory language began in 2010, so this is not new unless you’ve only been involved in federal aid administration for less than 5 years.  The result of the current proposed rules becoming final in their original format would be harmful to the career education industry, would restrict students’ choice of college and program of study, and be virtually devastating to the beauty and wellness industry which has clearly been targeted based on the language in the proposed rulemaking packet.

In 2010, approximately 100,000 comments were filed by the public in response to GE-1.  That set of proposed rules was 165 pages and was afforded a 45-day comment period.  The current proposed rulemaking packet is 1077 pages and a comment period of only 30 days was provided.  It’s clear to me that the department wanted to dissuade comment submissions.  Could this be because it feels it doesn’t have enough time to respond to that same volume of comments and still publish final rules by November 1st so they are effective next July?  Could it be that the department just wants to make it incredibly difficult so only a handful of us masochists can deal with it?  Who knows?

What is important is that everyone needs to file comments on these proposals.  Not just school owners, but also administrators, faculty, students, your graduates and employers of them.  This is career education Armageddon for proprietary schools while having no Title IV consequences for public and non-profit schools.  As a simple example, if a nursing degree program at a for-profit institution fails the department’s earnings expectations, it loses eligibility for federal student aid.  If the exact same nursing degree program at a public college fails the department’s earnings expectations, the school is only required to publish a disclosure that the program could result in low earnings.  Yes, you read that correctly.

Comments do not have to extensive or eloquent.  They just have to share experiences and ideas.  Also, they shouldn’t be argumentative or abrasive, although I can certainly be from time to time!  Yes, it’s important that we have accountability in education and with the use of taxpayers’ dollars.  So I applaud the department’s intent.  The road it’s chosen, however, is in bad need of re-surfacing.  It can help to read some of the posted comments before you submit your own too.  You’ll see it’s not as scary as some think.

When commenting, thank the department for that opportunity and for its oversight to ensure quality education.  Then share your thoughts on why you feel the current approach is flawed.  Employers should share their experiences especially if they became more successful as a result of hiring your private career school graduates.  Graduates should share how their lives were changed as a result of attending your school with emphasis on how their financial situation has improved as a result of completing your program.

It’s a no-holds-barred approach folks.  The department has to be educated on the successes of our industry because unfortunately, all it seems to know are the limited failures.  So it’s time to gather the flock and solicit comment submission from as many as possible.  Create your own emails and provide the links as we have above.  Making it as easy as possible will result in greater success.  Thanks for indulging!!

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