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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


For media inquiries only, contact:  
Lara Sisselman, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



~ AG Herring joined coalition of state attorneys general in filing lawsuit against Education Secretary DeVos for refusing to enforce rule that protects students and taxpayers from abuse by predatory for-profit schools~


RICHMOND (October 17, 2017) - Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 18 state attorneys general in suing the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Betsy DeVos for refusing to enforce the Gainful Employment Rule, a federal regulation designed to protect students from predatory for-profit schools.


"The Department of Education should be protecting our students and holding for-profit schools accountable, but Secretary DeVos is irresponsibly refusing to enforce a rule that does just that," said Attorney General Herring. "Too many students across the country take on thousands of dollars in student loans based on promises made by a for-profit school, only to find themselves in deep debt with no degree or one that may not lead to a good job like the school advertised.  More than one million Virginia student borrowers have a total of more than $30 billion in outstanding student loan balances, and I'll continue to stand up and fight for them and their families."

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that the Department of Education violated federal law by refusing to enforce the Gainful Employment Rule, which implements the requirement in the Higher Education Act that all for-profit schools, all vocational schools, and non-degree programs at all other schools "prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation." 


The Gainful Employment Rule has two important aspects.  First, it empowers prospective students to make informed decisions by requiring schools to provide information about the program's average debt load, the loan repayment rate of all students who enroll in the program, the percentage of students who graduate from the program, the number of graduates who obtain employment in a field related to the program, and the average earnings of graduates.  Second, the Gainful Employment Rule assesses whether schools' programs provide education and training to their students that lead to earnings that will allow students to pay back their student loan debts. If the programs fail the objective metrics, federal student loans and grants would no longer be provided to those programs.


On July 5, 2017 and August 18, 2017, the Department announced its intent to delay large portions of the Gainful Employment Rule without soliciting, receiving, or responding to any comment from any stakeholder or member of the public, and without engaging in a public deliberative process. The Department has also publicly stated that it has no plans to calculate the necessary metrics to determine whether programs are failing the Gainful Employment Rule's minimum requirements.  State attorneys general argue in their lawsuit that the delays have no legal justification and the Department's actions are "arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion."


Today's complaint asks the Court to declare the Department's delay notices unlawful and to order the Department to implement the Gainful Employment Rule.


Attorney General Herring joined state attorneys general from California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington in filing today's lawsuit.