Guest opinion: New education rules not fair to some

Throughout the San Diego region, we rely on various services to be available to us. These services include professionals that service the vehicles that we drive or the nurses that take care of an aging loved one. We may not always realize it, but these are just some of the services that require unique skillsets. Not every child will end up attending a four year university, but the region offers a variety of alternative paths to a great career.

Higher education, even if it isn’t a four year degree, is critical to a thriving region. It plays a key role in San Diego’s vibrant economy. Everybody wants to expand the opportunities for those that seek to enhance their education. In recent years we have seen friends and family limited by unprecedented levels of student debt. We all agree that there are problems with the system that need to be addressed. However, recently enacted regulations do not offer those solutions.

The new Gainful Employment Regulations require schools, mostly for-profit institutions, to meet federally imposed standards. Often times, these standards are not reasonable for each institution and can result in lost federal student aid. The N. San Diego Business Chamber cannot support these harmful regulations.

Therefore, we support the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s decision in filing a Brief of Amicus Curiae in the case of APSCU vs. Arne Duncan. We also support regulations and legislation that 1) prevent students from being buried in debt, 2) improve student outcomes, and 3) provide transparency with regard to student success, as long as those regulations are applied fairly and equally.

In its current state, the Gainful Employment Regulations unfairly target for-profit educational institutions and certificate programs at private non-profit and public institutions. The regulations should apply equally to all institutions of higher education.

Schools should be given a reasonable amount of time to collect data and improve outcomes where needed. We believe that they should be transparent with information, such as what their former students are earning, their graduation rates, and the amount of debt students have accumulated. But, we do not agree that only career education and for-profit institutions should be held to these standards.

Students should not be burdened by student loan debt they cannot repay. We can’t let our children’s futures be crushed like this. It hurts our region when students do not have enough disposable income to participate fully in our local economy as homeowners, business owners and consumers. All institutions of higher education should be held to the same high standards, though.

If the free market is allowed to function effectively with prudent regulations, institutions serving our region by producing the skilled workforce needed will provide programs that result in sustainable careers with a living wage driven by market demand—not artificial constraints or false advertising. Students engaged in high-quality education programs for in-demand, skilled trades such as automotive mechanics, welding, and nursing will find employment that enables them to pay off student debt.

Predatory, deceptive institutions should be held accountable to prevent students from making unwise career choices. Written properly, laws such as the Gainful Employment can benefit both students and the communities in which they live and work.

Rosen is president and CEO of the North San Diego Business Chamber.

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