Client Alert – DOE Announces Additional Guidance on 2019 GE Disclosure Template (July 1, 2019 deadline to update disclosures)
On June 7, 2019, the Department of Education (“Department”) posted Electronic Announcement #121 – Additional Guidance on Completing the 2019 GE Disclosure Template. Recall that in 2014, the Obama Administration promulgated the Gainful Employment (GE) Rule, which assesses whether a program has prepared students to earn enough to repay their loans—or the program was sufficiently low in cost—such that students are not unduly burdened with debt. Under the 2014 GE Rule, a program is considered to have led a student to gainful employment if the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of his or her total earnings. The 2014 GE Rule also requires institutions to disclose on their webpages data related to each program’s previous cohorts of students, as well as requiring them to update their disclosures each year in accordance with the Department’s GE Disclosure Template.
The recently issued guidance answers questions that the Department received relating to the 2019 GE Disclosure Template. Specifically, the guidance makes clear that:
- When making median debt calculations, institutions can use Title-IV students who completed the program within 100% of normal time during the most recently completed award year. This is a simplification from last year’s disclosure template, which required staggered completion cohorts based on program length and student start year. Institutions may still use last year’s method of calculation if they so wish.
- Programs with fewer than ten completers or that are too new should not list a median debt amount. Instead, these institutions should display language similar to the 2018 GE Disclosure Template: “Fewer than 10 students completed this program within normal time. This number has been withheld to preserve the confidentiality of the students.”
- Institutions may use their logo or provide additional information on the same webpage as their GE disclosure template, as long as all the elements of the GE disclosure template are met and the webpage meets state requirements for accessibility. All the elements of the GE disclosure template must be displayed in a “prominent, readily accessible, clear, conspicuous, and direct” manner.
- Institutions must use the same content and phrasing of the GE disclosure template, but can vary in their use of format, such as through use of HTML, PDF, an attached Word document, or any other format that displays the essential elements in a “prominent, readily accessible, clear, conspicuous, and direct” manner, while meeting state requirements for accessibility.
- Institutions must link to the College Scorecard and use the exact introductory language, even if their institution or program is not currently listed on the College Scorecard.
Institutions have until July 1, 2019 to update disclosures for each of their GE programs and to post the disclosures to program webpages, as prescribed by the 2019 GE Disclosure Template. Institutions will also want to ensure that they are adhering to the regulatory guidance issued in Announcement #119 and #120.
Should you have any questions or concerns about the implications of this guidance or the 2014 GE Rule, please do not hesitate to contact us by email or at 312-946-1800.