Alerts and Updates

Postsecondary Schools Subject to New Gainful Employment Disclosure Obligations as of July 1, 2019

June 13, 2019

Institutions have until July 1, 2019, to update disclosures for each of their GE programs, using the required 2019 GE Disclosure Template data elements, and post the disclosures to program webpages.

On May 9, 2019, the Department of Education published Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #119, announcing the release of a new 2019 Gainful Employment (GE) Disclosure Template. On May 23, 2019, the Department followed up with Electronic Announcement #120, which provided additional detail regarding the GE disclosure distribution and delivery requirements for that template. On June 7, 2019, the Department published Electronic Announcement #121, providing additional guidance on the 2019 GE Disclosure Template. All postsecondary institutions offering GE programs are required to utilize the new GE template. A GE program is any Title IV educational program offered by a proprietary institution and any nondegree (less than two year) Title IV program offered by other institutions.

Action Item

The GE disclosure delivery and distribution requirements in the GE rule were previously delayed by the Department until July 1, 2019. These recent announcements by the Department make clear that these delivery and disclosure obligations are effective as of July 1, 2019. All institutions offering GE programs should ensure that they are prepared for the July 1, 2019, deadline by closely reviewing the requirements detailed below and in the electronic announcements referenced above, including with regard to all promotional materials.

For purposes of the regulation, promotional materials include, but are not limited to, an institution's catalogs, invitations, flyers, billboards and advertising on or through radio, television, print media, the internet and social media. All promotional materials about a GE program must be accurate and current at the time they are published, approved by a state agency or broadcast.

Deadline

Institutions have until July 1, 2019, to update disclosures for each of their GE programs, using the required 2019 GE Disclosure Template data elements, and post the disclosures to program webpages.

Content Requirements

The 2019 GE Disclosure Template is not a web-based application and will not generate a completed format of the template that must be used (as occurred previously). Schools are permitted to add a school logo and provide additional information on the same webpage as the GE Disclosure Template as long as all required elements are present and meet any state requirements for accessibility.

Instead, institutions may create a word document template or post the data elements on the program website. The 2019 template data elements include:

  • Normal time to complete the program
  • Total program costs if completing the program within normal time (including tuition and fees plus books, supplies and equipment, excluding room, board or other expenses)
  • Median cumulative debt for Title IV students completing the program within normal time (including federal, private and institutional debt)
  • Licensure information for the program’s target occupation
  • URL for the College Scorecard
  • Warning language if required under 34 CFR 668.410

Median Debt Calculation

For the 2019 GE Disclosure Template, the calculation was adjusted such that schools should base median debt calculations on Title IV students who completed the program within 100 percent of normal time during the most recently completed award year (2017-2018). The Department made this adjustment to eliminate staggered completion cohorts based on program length and student start year.

For 2019, schools may continue to use last year’s method of calculation with the start years advanced forward one year. This method of calculation involves looking at the start year, not the completion year, and looking at the Title IV students who first began during the given award year and then proceeded to complete within 100 percent of normal time. Note that depending on what point during the school year varying students began and the pace at which they completed, if you calculate based on start year, it is possible for your on-time completers to have differing completion years.

When Student Warnings Are Required

Warnings are required for programs with an overall “fail” rating for their 2014-2015 GE rates without a pending earnings appeal. Warning requirements are temporarily suspended for programs with an alternate earnings appeal currently under consideration. Following the withdrawal or rejection of a program’s appeal, an institution has 30 days to revise its GE disclosures to include the warning.

Where to Post Template Information

Any webpage containing academic, cost, financial aid or admissions information about a GE program must include the GE disclosures for that program or a prominent, readily accessible, clear, conspicuous and direct link to the program’s disclosure template. Institutions may change the font type and font size as long as the text is clear and conspicuous. Additionally, institutions must provide a link to the College Scorecard and use the required introductory language. This is true even if a school or program is not currently listed on the College Scorecard. 

Distribution of the GE Disclosures

Beginning on July 1, 2019, GE disclosures containing all required data elements must be delivered to prospective students, third parties acting on behalf of prospective students or the public in the following manner:

  • Delivery as a Separate Document Prior to Enrollment, Registration or Financial Commitment: Institutions will be required to provide a prospective student or a third party acting on behalf of the prospective student, as a separate document, with a copy of the disclosure template before the prospective student signs an enrollment agreement, completes registration or makes a financial commitment to the institution.
  • Method of Delivery and Confirmation of Receipt: Institutions may deliver the disclosure template to the prospective student or third party: (1) by hand-delivering the disclosure template individually; (2) distributing to participants in a group presentation; or (3) sending the disclosure template to the primary email address used by the institution for communicating with the prospective student or third party about the program. For options (1) and (2), the school must obtain written confirmation from the prospective student or third party that the prospective student or third party received a copy of the disclosure template. For option (3), the institution must ensure that the disclosure template is the only substantive content in the email; receive electronic or other written acknowledgement that the prospective student or third party received the email; send the disclosure template using a different address or method of delivery if the institution receives a response that the email could not be delivered; and maintain records of its efforts to provide the disclosure template.
  • Promotional Materials: All promotional materials made available by or on behalf of an institution to prospective students that identify a GE program by name, or otherwise promote the program, must include the disclosure template in a prominent manner. Where space or airtime constraints would preclude providing the disclosure template, an institution must include the web address (URL) of, or the direct link to, the disclosure template. That URL or link must be prominent, readily accessible, clear, conspicuous and direct.

For Further Information

If you have any questions related to this Alert, please contact Katherine D. Brodie, Kristina Gill, any of the attorneys in the Higher Education Practice Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.