Miller lauded bipartisan support for a provision that would defund for-profit rules.

Efforts by lobbyists from for-profit colleges – including some of the largest online education programs – fell short last week when Congress passed a compromise budget bill that would allow the Education Department (ED) to move ahead with its long-awaited “gainful employment” regulations.

In an April 11 statement, Harris Miller, president of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU), said the group’s last-ditch try to get the House and Senate to include a provision that would de-fund ED’s for-profit rulemaking was not included in the final budget that will fund the federal government through September.

APSCU asked its members to call their Congressional representatives as the final budget was being finalized, not conceding defeat on the for-profit regulations – known as “gainful employment” rules — until the bill became law.

The for-profit regulations pushed by the Obama administration for more than two years would affect some of the nation’s largest online colleges, such as the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University, by stripping schools of federal loan money if too many of their students maintain high loan debt-to-income ratios, among other provisions.

Miller said for-profit college advocates wouldn’t stop their fight against the government rules, which are expected to take effect in July 2012.

The final budget’s green light for ED officials to proceed with regulations “won’t stop our efforts to fight for our schools and our students,” he said.

Miller added: “By continuing to work with Congress, and with our member schools and their students, we intend to hold Secretary Duncan to his word that the final gainful employment regulation will be ‘much more thoughtful and much better for the country than the original proposal.’”

By failing to de-fund ED’s rulemaking, lawmakers “missed an opportunity to protect 2 million nontraditional students nationwide and ensure that they can continue to access a full spectrum of higher education that includes private sector colleges and universities,” Miller said.