ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION®
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On July 1, the U.S. Department of Education formally began implementing the new “gainful employment” (GE) regulations affecting federal student aid eligibility for postsecondary institutions offering career-related programs. As we previously reported, the finalized regulations were released last October, and have since overcome legal challenges in federal court seeking to block their implementation. The rules are also meeting resistance from congressional Republicans; both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees recently approved education funding bills that include policy provisions that would stop or delay the regulations. The president is likely to veto these bills should they reach his desk though, and despite objections from lawmakers and higher education stakeholders, the Obama Administration will now move forward with implementation of the controversial rules.
The Higher Education Act (HEA) requires that certain educational programs offered at some postsecondary institutions, including for-profit institutions, community and technical colleges, and area CTE centers, must provide training that prepares students for “gainful employment in a recognized occupation” in order to participate in federal financial aid programs. Nearly all educational programs at for-profit higher education institutions, as well as non-degree programs at public and private nonprofit institutions, are subject to these rules. The new regulations now provide a specific outline as to how the department will evaluate a program’s effectiveness in preparing students for gainful employment after program completion. Moreover, they set requirements for programs to make certain performance and outcomes data, including program costs, earnings information and completion rates, available to the public.
The accountability metrics established under the new rule for affected GE programs focus exclusively on performance outcomes among students who receive support through HEA Title IV federal student aid programs. It’s important to note that 91 percent of certificate-seeking students enrolled in community colleges and 82 percent of those in less-than-two-year institutions do not receive any federal student loans. At the urging of ACTE and other stakeholder groups, the department eliminated the proposed “program cohort default rate” measure (although institutions will still have to report their program-level default rates). Going forward, programs will be assessed on a “debt-to-earnings” accountability measure that will evaluate the amount of debt that students incur to attend a program in comparison to their annual earnings after completion. The department estimates that the vast majority of GE programs that are at risk of not passing the accountability standards are at for-profit intuitions (approximately 1,400 programs serving 840,000 students, 99 percent of whom are at for-profit schools).
ACTE believes that this rule should appropriately hold programs accountable, while acknowledging that high-quality postsecondary CTE programs are an affordable option for many students and should not be unduly burdened. We will continue to provide updates on the implementation of these regulations on our CTE Policy Watch Blog.
Posted by Mitch Coppes on 07/02/2015 at 02:58 PM in HEA, Postsecondary Issues | Permalink
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