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Media Turns to Arnold Ventures for Expertise on Higher Education Accountability

New gainful employment rules will provide students and borrowers with critical protections.

Female college student receiving college diploma.
(FG Trade Latin/ Getty Images)

The White House recently announced new oversight rules aimed at holding career-college programs accountable and providing students with more information about educational programs before they enroll. In covering this major policy development, top national media outlets turned to experts at Arnold Ventures for insight and analysis.

Multiple Arnold Ventures leaders were quoted in high-profile news stories, demonstrating that the organization is viewed as a trusted source for its research and advocacy on protecting students and driving accountability in higher education.

Kelly McManus, Vice President of Higher Education at AV, was quoted in a USA Today article about the Biden administration’s finalized gainful employment” rule. McManus said the new accountability regulations will provide students and borrowers with critical protections and ensure taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted on educational programs that don’t produce real value.” 

McManus was also cited in a Forbes op-ed from Michael Nietzel, a contributor who covers higher education. Nietzel writes that many consumer advocacy groups and higher education observers welcomed the new rule,” including McManus, who said it will set the strongest standard for student outcomes of any rule to date.”

Her statement was included in an Inside Higher Ed article as well. 

In addition, Clare McCann, a Higher Education Fellow at AV, was interviewed by The Washington Post about the policy. McCann told the Post she hopes the rules will push poor-performing programs to improve or close. This is the strongest rule we’ve seen to date,” McCann said. It includes disclosures for students in undergrad or graduate programs, even outside the career training sectors, to make sure they know if their programs are going to leave them able to repay their debt.”

The gainful employment regulations are aimed at cracking down on career college programs that leave graduates with unmanageable debt. The rules stem from a provision in the Higher Education Act requiring that for-profit colleges and non-degree (certificate) programs prepare students for gainful employment.” As evidence mounted of predatory practices and poor outcomes, especially in the for-profit sector, the Obama administration moved to define gainful employment based on debt and earnings data. The Trump administration later rescinded those rules.

Arnold Ventures has long championed reinstating rigorous gainful employment standards as vital to protecting students from low-quality programs that fail to provide economic mobility. 

The final regulations include strengthened accountability through debt-to-earnings rates and an earnings premium test. They also provide unprecedented transparency by requiring all colleges to report program costs and outcomes.

Following the announcement, Arnold Ventures released a statement from Kelly McManus applauding these provisions as critical to safeguarding students and taxpayers. The statement underscores Arnold Ventures’ commitment to keep pushing for additional oversight regulations from the administration and for accountability reforms in Congress.

Leading up to the gainful employment rules coming out, Arnold Ventures also published a detailed fact sheet on gainful employment, providing historical background and data analysis showing why stronger protections are urgently needed. The fact sheet documents how even elite institutions like Harvard responded quickly with reforms after initial gainful employment results were released. It also highlights the concentration of failing programs in the for-profit sector.