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Focus on Regulation

U.S. Department of Education Offers Additional Guidance on Gainful Employment Disclosure Requirements

On June 30, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision that vacated several of the provisions of the Gainful Employment (“GE”) regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) in 2010 and 2011.  In its decision in Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities v. Duncan, the court left in place the regulations at 34 C.F.R. 668.6(b) that require institutions to disclose certain information about each of their GE Programs.  Recently, ED offered additional guidance on how institutions should comply with those requirements.

Under the disclosure regulations, institutions must disclose to prospective students certain information with respect to their GE Programs, such as the occupations that the program will prepare students to enter and the on-time graduation rate for students in the program.  An education institution must make such information available in its promotional materials for prospective students and on its website.  Institutions must use ED’s disclosure template, once available, to prepare their GE Program disclosures.  In July, ED said that it was “reviewing the disclosure template to ensure that it complies with the Court’s decision” and would announce further information.  ED also advised that institutions were not required to update their disclosures until that information was provided.

On November 23, ED provided additional information about how institutions should comply with the GE disclosure requirements:

  • ED has not yet provided a GE disclosure template because it is waiting for the court to rule on ED’s motion to alter or amend the court’s judgment; the outcome of the ruling could affect whether the GE “debt measures” are included in the template.  In lieu of the template, institutions must make their own GE Program disclosures using “an institutionally-determined format.”
  • Institutions that have not already updated their disclosures for the 2011-2012 award year must do so no later than January 31, 2013.  Those disclosures must be based on data about students who completed the GE Program during the 2011-2012 award year (July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012).
  • For purposes of updating their disclosures, institutions must calculate their own median debt loads for each of their GE Programs because, as the court vacated the GE reporting regulations, institutions were not required to report debt load data to ED for the 2011-2012 award year.