July 3, 2017

U.S. Department of Education Delays Certain Gainful Employment Disclosure Requirements

In its latest action regarding the “Gainful Employment” regulations promulgated under the Obama administration, late on June 30, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education (“the Department”) announced a delay in certain disclosure requirements that were to have taken effect on July 1, 2017. This announcement occurred through Electronic Announcement #106, a pre-publication draft Federal Register notice (which will appear in the Federal Register on July 5, 2017) and an official press release.

The Gainful Employment regulations require all education programs offered by proprietary institutions of higher education, and non-degree programs offered by public and private nonprofit institutions, to meet specific debt-to-earnings measures in order to remain eligible for federal student financial aid. Additionally, the regulations require institutions to provide extensive informational disclosures to students regarding their Gainful Employment programs, and to issue warnings to students when a program is in danger of losing its eligibility for federal student financial aid. As described in a previous alert, the Department announced on June 16, 2017, that it will establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to develop proposed revisions to the Gainful Employment regulations; however, that prior announcement did not alter the effectiveness of the current regulations.

Through this latest announcement, the Department has now delayed until July 1, 2018, the requirements for institutions to include a link to the required Gainful Employment program disclosure template in all promotional materials, to provide a copy of the required template to all students on an individual basis, and to receive acknowledgements from individual students that they received the template. Importantly, institutions are still required as of July 1, 2017, to incorporate the new Gainful Employment program disclosure template into their website descriptions of educational programs offered.

Please also note that unless an institution submitted a timely notice of intent to appeal its programs’ Gainful Employment measures to the Department in late January, this latest action does not affect the regulatory requirement to issue student warnings for programs in danger of losing federal student financial aid eligibility because of those measures.

We are continuing to monitor developments on the Gainful Employment regulations and other Department matters. If you have questions regarding the notice described in this alert, or any other matters, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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