March 21, 2022
The U.S. Department of Education reached consensus last week with higher education sector representatives on a proposal for a revamped 90/10 rule. The rule prohibits for-profit colleges from receiving more than 90% of their revenue from federal student aid.
Representatives of student veterans and for-profit colleges both made concessions in the agreed-upon language, which will go into effect in 2023. For instance, federal money used to support state grants for tuition would count in the 90% calculation under the proposal — a measure that has drawn opposition from for-profit institutions.
Career Education Colleges and Universities, a group representing the for-profit sector, applauded the department’s willingness to broker a deal on the 90/10 rule. “Although we might not like everything in this language, we can live with it,” said Nicholas Kent, senior vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for the group.
Last week, the Education Department wrapped up months of negotiated rulemaking, a process that requires the agency to convene representatives from across higher education to attempt to reach consensus on new regulatory proposals. The sessions involved talks among more than a dozen representatives for different groups, including nonprofit colleges, for-profit institutions and consumer advocates.
The negotiators considered seven new regulatory proposals that would affect student aid programs, but they only reached consensus on two — the 90/10 rule and a regulation governing whether certain students without high school diplomas can receive federal financial aid.
“It is surprising to a lot of people in higher education that the negotiating committee reached consensus on what was probably one of the most contentious items,” Kent said. “I don’t think that a lot of people — especially when they saw the department’s opening proposal in January — thought that there was any way that the committee would reach consensus.”