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Ass’n of Proprietary Colleges v. Duncan

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education adopted the “Gainful Employment” rule to address overwhelming evidence that some postsecondary career training programs, particularly at for-profit institutions, were failing to prepare students for jobs that would enable them to repay their federal student debt, thus endangering the federal government’s investment in these schools by way of federal student aid and leaving some students worse off than they would have been had they never pursued postsecondary education. The rule imposed new accountability and disclosure requirements for certain career training programs. The Association of Proprietary Colleges, which represents for-profit schools, challenged the rule in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Public Citizen represented twenty-five amici in support of the rule and the Department of Education in the district court. Amici were groups that advocate for students and college access, civil rights, veterans, and consumers. Their brief explained why the rule benefits students and described the extensive administrative record evidence in support of the rule.

In May 2015, the district court dismissed the lawsuit. It held that the rule was within the Department’s statutory authority under the Higher Education Act, did not violate schools’ due process rights, and was the product of reasoned decisionmaking.