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National Restaurant Association - Career colleges with culinary programs could be hurt by new rules

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Career colleges with culinary programs could be hurt by new rules

At the urging of the National Restaurant Association and many other groups, the U.S. House voted Feb. 18 to put a temporary brake on Department of Education regulations that would deny federal financial aid to students attending certain for-profit and career colleges.

DOE's complex and controversial "gainful employment" regulations were proposed last summer. Among other things, the rules would cut off federal aid in for-profit colleges where the DOE says students graduate with loans that exceed a certain percentage of their potential earnings.

Culinary and foodservice management programs would be among the programs affected by the rules, the NRA told the House last week. In a letter to House members, the NRA asked for a delay that would allow more thoughtful consideration of the regulations. For-profit or career colleges typically help students acquire skills that can be applied immediately to specific jobs. Culinary and foodservice management programs in these schools are an important training ground for many students who pursue a career in the restaurant industry, the NRA said.

The House voted 287-136 Feb. 18 to block the Education Department from using federal funds through Sept. 30, 2011, to work on the regulations. The measure was one of hundreds of amendments taken up as part of H.R. 1, the funding bill to keep the government operating through FY 2011.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) cited restaurant programs in his comments during House debate to oppose the rules. "Perhaps some of [the supporters of the Department of Education regulations] have never eaten at a restaurant where the person that prepared the food went to a proprietary institution," Hastings said. "I have."

Hastings joined House Education & the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), and Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) in championing the bipartisan amendment to shut off funding for the regulatory work through September. The funding prohibition has not yet been debated by the Senate.

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