[caption id="attachment_85094" align="aligncenter" width="2731"] AP Photo/Patrick Semansky 


After years of negotiations and several legal challenges, the Obama administration’s “gainful employment” rule goes into effect today.

The Education Department rule cracking down on for-profit colleges will require schools to track their graduates’ employment, and will cut off funding for career training programs that don’t meet the department's debt-to-earnings ratio.

The department has estimated that this regulation will shut down 1,400 programs that enroll 840,000 students. 99 percent of the affected students attend for-profit schools.

The rule has survived challenges from two for-profit college trade groups. Last week, a Federal District Court in Washington ruled in favor of the federal government in a case against the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU).

In a statement, APSCU general counsel Sally Stroup said the regulation will cut off students' access to higher education.

"This case presents very serious legal issues, of great significance not only to APSCU's members, but also to students," Stroup said. "Indeed, as numerous commentators have observed, the primary impact of the regulation will be to deprive hundreds of thousands of students of access to higher education. That is inconsistent with the congressional plan under the Higher Education Act, unlawful, and bad policy."

Supporters of the gainful employment rule argue that for-profit colleges often lure students in with false or misleading statistics on job placement, and then burden them with debt they are unable to repay.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan called last week's ruling a win for America’s students and taxpayers.

“With students across the country reeling from the predatory behavior of failed and fraudulent 'career' colleges, it's truly mind-boggling that anyone would still be fighting so hard to shield those colleges, leaving students in the dark and taxpayers holding the bag," Duncan wrote in a POLITICO Magazine op-ed. "It's time for Congress to help stop these scams - not to sabotage accountability."

Republicans in Congress won't be going down without a fight. Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate education committee, has said he intends to do his best to block the rule, and House and Senate Republicans have already introduced spending bills that would prevent the rule from taking effect.