The 2019 Gainful Employment Disclosure Template is now available.  Read below the POWERS Education Group analysis of the new template, and where and how to post updated disclosures on institutional websites.

ED Sets Deadline and Requirements for New GE Disclosures

In a recent electronic announcement, the U.S. Department of Education released its 2019 version of the Gainful Employment (“GE”) Disclosure Template, and announced that institutions will need to update their current GE disclosures by July 1, 2019.  This post contains information about the new template, and where and how to post updated disclosures on institutional websites.

You may have heard that the Department’s proposed rescission of the Obama-era GE rule is in the final stages of pre-publication review, and we are continuing to monitor these developments closely.  In the meantime, institutions are reminded to keep their current GE disclosures up to date, as failing to comply with these requirements can lead to claims and complaints by students, state attorneys general, and the Department.

The 2019 Template

The 2019 version is available on ED’s Gainful Employment Disclosure Template page (or click here for a direct download).[1]

Unlike in prior years, the 2019 template is a simple Word document, and institutions will no longer need to use ED’s web-based application to generate completed disclosure forms. Instead, ED instructs institutions to copy the provided text and fill in the information for each of their applicable GE programs (more on this below).

Disclosure Elements

The Department describes the new template as more “simplified and streamlined” than prior versions.  It includes the following disclosure elements for each GE program an institution offers:

  • Normal time to complete the program, but not program completion rate.
  • Total program costs if completing within normal time (including tuition and fees plus books, supplies, and equipment; but 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).
    • Institutions will not be required to include a typical monthly payment, only the total median debt.
    • Aside from including only completers in normal time who received Title IV at any point in the program, the new template does not specify for which population median debt should be determined. Because ED asks institutions to use the most recent data available, and because prior templates used completers in a single award year, we expect that institutions should calculate median debt using on-time completers from the most recent full award year, 2017-2018 (although as of the July 1, 2019 deadline, the current AY2018-2019 will have concluded on the prior day).  We will update this post if ED clarifies this point.
  • Occupational licensure information, if applicable, for the program’s target occupation. Information must be provided for any states in the Metropolitan Statistical Area in which the institution is located, as well as for any states for which the institution is aware of whether the program satisfies all educational prerequisites to qualify a student for licensure.
  • Warning language, if required for the program in question. At this time, warnings are required only for programs that had an overall “failing” performance under the single set of GE debt-to-earnings rates released to date.  Warning requirements are temporarily suspended for programs with an alternate earnings appeal still pending before ED.  (If needed, the new template includes the required warning text.)
  • Web address (URL) for the College Scorecard.

Where and How to Post

For their new disclosures due July 1, 2019, institutions should copy the form language from ED’s template document, fill in the relevant data, and post the completed disclosure template to each relevant program webpage. The information must be “clearly available on the program website” of each GE program.[2]

A disclosure must be created for each GE program an institution offers.  As a reminder, while ED considers programs that share an OPEID, CIP code and credential level to be a single “GE program,” institutions have flexibility to create separate disclosures that reflect their programs as actually offered.  Under the current rules, a school must provide separate disclosures by length for programs offered in more than one length, and may provide separate disclosures by location or format (e.g., full-time, part-time, accelerated) if doing so would result in clearer disclosures.  Any separate disclosures must clearly identify the length, location or format to which they apply.  And for 2019, ED has instructed that when separate disclosures are used, the disclosure elements must be disaggregated accordingly (in other words, the data must be specific to the program length, location or format in question).

We suggest you preserve evidence of the date new disclosures are posted, in case your institution needs to document for its auditor or ED that it met the July 1 deadline. Unlike in prior years—when templates were auto-generated by ED’s website application—the 2019 disclosures will not include an official “date created” stamp.  One way to document timely posting is for school staff to email themselves screenshots of program webpages that include the new disclosures.

Suspended Distribution Requirements – Further News to Come

The 2014 rule requires institutions to provide a GE disclosure to each prospective student prior to their signing an enrollment agreement, completing registration or otherwise making a financial commitment to the institution.  However, due to a series of extensions from ED, this requirement has never taken effect.  Also suspended is the requirement to include the disclosures, or a link thereto, in promotional materials relating to a GE program.

The Department’s most recent suspension of these requirements expires at the end of June.  Without further action by ED, institutions would need to begin complying with the direct distribution and promotional materials requirements beginning July 1, 2019.  While ED’s most recent announcement does not include another extension, it states that more information “will be provided in an upcoming Electronic Announcement.” Powers will continue to monitor developments in this important area.

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If you have any questions about Gainful Employment issues, or need assistance with preparing your 2019 GE Disclosures, please do not hesitate to contact Dan Brozovic at Dan.Brozovic@PowersLaw.com or (202) 349-4250, or the Powers attorneys with whom you regularly work.

[1] Warning about prior template:  As of this posting, ED’s electronic announcement contains links to both the 2019 disclosure template and the 2018 template (the latter resides at https://ope.ed.gov/GainfulEmployment/).  We suggest avoiding this link since it will generate a 2018-compliant disclosure, not a 2019-compliant disclosure. Be sure to create your new disclosures using the Microsoft Word-format version of the template.

[2] The relevant disclosure template must also appear on any web page containing academic, cost, financial aid, or admissions information about a GE program.  Alternatively, these pages may include a prominent, readily accessible, clear, conspicuous, and direct link to the program’s disclosure template.