In 2014, the Department of Education adopted the Gainful Employment Rule to address overwhelming evidence that some 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. These programs, as a result, were leaving some students worse off than they would have been had they never pursued postsecondary education and endangering the federal government’s investment. As a condition of continued receipt of Title IV student aid funding, the 2014 rule imposed new accountability and disclosure requirements for career training programs.
In 2017, however, the Department under Secretary Betsy DeVos initiated a new rulemaking to reexamine the Gainful Employment Rule and, in the interim, set about to undermine the rule by suspending key portions of its disclosure requirements and effectively gutting the rule’s accountability mechanism. State attorneys general brought suit against the Department to compel the agency to implement the rule as written. Public Citizen represented seventeen amici in support of the state plaintiffs. In a decision issued in June 2020, the district court held that the states lacked standing and dismissed the case.