David P. Lewis
As we previously discussed here, here and here, on June 30, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued its decision in Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) v. Duncan. In that decision, the Court vacated several key provisions in the Gainful Employment (GE) regulations that the Department published on October 29, 2010 and June 13, 2011, including those that required schools to report their repayment rates and debt-to-income ratios. The Court left standing, however, the adopted regulations that require schools to disclose their gainful employment results (see 34 CFR 668.6(b)). Those requirements are still in place.
Following that decision, the Department had informed schools not to update their GE disclosures pending further guidance from the Department. On November 23, 2012, the Department distributed an electronic announcement providing that guidance. In summary:
- GE Program Disclosure Template. The Department is waiting for the Court to rule on its request to reinstate the GE reporting requirements before it provides a template GE disclosure form (referred to in the regulations at 34 CFR 668.6(b)(2)(iv)). Further guidance on the development of the template and institutional disclosure obligations is to come.
- Format for 2011-2012 Updates to Institutional Disclosures Regarding GE Programs. Because the template is not yet available, institutions must make their GE Program disclosures using an institutionally-determined format by no later than January 31, 2013.
- Required GE Program Disclosures. The following items must be included in a GE Program’s disclosures:
- Occupations (by names and SOC Codes) that the program prepares students to enter
- Normal time to complete the program (e.g., one year certificate program)
- On-time graduation rate for completers (on-time completion is defined in 34 CFR 668.6(c))
- Tuition and fees for completing the program in the normal time, costs for book and supplies, and costs for room and board, if applicable;
- Placement rate for completers, if required by state or accreditor; an
- Median educational loan debt incurred by completers, disclosed in three separate categories: Title IV loans, private loans, and institutional debt. With regard to this item, the guidance notes that because institutions did not report data to NSLDS for the 2011-2012 award year, institutions should calculate their own medians using data about students who completed the GE Program during the 2011-2012 award year and should not use the 2010-2011 medians the Department previously calculated using the GE program information that was previously reported. In future years, if the litigation referred to above gets resolved, the Department expects to make these calculations itself.
- Display of GE Program Disclosures. As a reminder, under the regulations, GE Program disclosures must be displayed on the educational programs’ websites and on any promotional materials for the program in a simple and meaningful manner. Additionally, any other web page containing general, academic, or admissions information about the GE Program must also contain a prominent and direct link to the single web page that contains all the required information. Finally, GE Program disclosures must also be provided in all promotional materials whenever feasible, including such items as flyers, brochures, invitations, program catalogs, and other content published to broadcast, print, direct mailings, email, social, or on-line media channels that promote a GE Program. If not feasible, due to the size or format of the promotional materials, the institution may display the URL or provide a live link to the single web page where the required information is located, with a clear explanation of the information that is available at that web page.
See GE Frequently Asked Questions D-Q/A3 and D-Q/A18 for answers to questions pertaining to promotional materials.