The National Jurist - Spring 2017 - 5
misleading recruitment practices. The program only applies to for-profit schools and
certificate programs at non-profit institutions.
More than 800 programs failed. This is
the first year the DOE has released data.
It is based on students who graduated
between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2012.
Gainful employment is determined
by calculating the debt-to-income ratio
of a program's graduates two years after
completing the program. The DOE uses
debt information from its records and as
reported by institutions, and earnings data
from the Social Security Administration.
To pass the DOE's test, the graduates'
loan payments must be less than 12 percent of their annual earnings, or less than
30 percent of their discretionary income.
Florida Coastal School of Law has a
debt-to-income ratio of 21.35 percent.
Charleston School of Law, which has said
it will convert to a nonprofit, has a debtto-income ratio of 20.42 percent.
The three ABA-accredited for-profit
law schools that received a "zone" rating
must obtain a "pass" rating at least once
in the next four years.
This includes Western State, Charlotte
and Arizona Summit, which is also owned
Arizona Summit has announced that
it plans to integrate into a university
pursuant to a planned acquisition of the
Phoenix school. It has not identified the
possible buyer. But it reassigned its dean,
Shirley Mays, to oversee the transition.
Meanwhile, Florida Coastal and other
for-profit schools have challenged the
legitimacy of the gainful employment standard.
"[Gainful employment] is not about
protecting students and taxpayers," Scott
DeVito, dean of Florida Coastal, wrote to
students. "It is part of an anti for-profit
DeVito said a debt-to-earnings determination does not accurately reflect the
value of a law school education.
The for-profit college industry is hopeful the new presidential administration
will scrap the gainful employment standard. After all, President Trump founded
embattled Trump University. Betsy DeVos,
the education secretary, said the rule would
be reviewed, when asked about it in her
The ABA did not accredit a for-profit
law school until after it signed a consent
decree with the Department of Justice in
1996. DOJ had accused the ABA of violating Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust
InfiLaw founded Florida Coastal in
1995, immediately after the ABA signed
the consent decree. It opened in 1996 and
received provisional accreditation in 1999.
Thomas Jefferson School of Law was the
first for-profit law school approved by the
ABA in 1996. It converted to nonprofit
status in 2001.
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