Department of Education Holding Institutions Accountable For Not Filing Gainful Employment Disclosures

admin ., Compliance

The filing deadline for 2014-2015 award year gainful employment data was October 1, 2015. Will we see many more institutions added to the “noncompliance” list? Is your school in compliance? What are the consequences of being on the noncompliance list and how can schools avoid or lessen penalties?

The Desire to Protect

Fueled with the desire to protect students from enrolling in ineffective career college programs, the Department of Education has mandated that institutions provide specific information about “gainful employment programs” to ensure that students aren’t stockpiling debt while simultaneously being no closer to acquiring employment.  After years of foreboding, the Department of Education (ED) is making good on their promise to hold institutions accountable for not filing Gainful Employment (GE) disclosures on time.  ED has provided numerous announcements, presented at conferences, and sent anticipation letters ensuring that institutions were adequately informed about the disclosures and consequences of noncompliance.

Catching Institutions by Surprise

However, some institutions didn’t realize that they had programs that qualified as “GE-eligible” and have been surprised by letters from ED noting their oversight.  Other institutions have submitted their disclosures, but they were deemed grossly insufficient.  Whatever the issue, the Department of Education has been actively communicating with institutions that did not disclose information from the 2008-2009 award year through the 2013-2014 award year by the July 31, 2015 deadline.  Following the initially mandated disclosure, institutions are required to report GE data annually by October 1 following the end of the award year –October 1, 2015, for the 2014-2015 award year, for example—unless the Secretary indicates otherwise.  With another deadline past, many more institutions may find themselves on the “noncompliance” list.

Harsh Consequences to Come

What are the consequences of being on this list?  ED has made it clear that they may determine that the institution “lacks the administrative capability to participate in the Title IV student financial assistance programs.” As a result, the institution may be subject to one or more sanctions—the worst of which would remove the institution’s eligibility to administer Title IV aid.  Institutions, such as the University of Phoenix (UOP), have implemented major restructuring in response to these regulations.  For UOP, this has meant eliminating all gainful employment programs from their academic menu.  Subsequently, several satellite campuses were liquidated, staffing reduced, enrollment dropped, and profits impacted.  UOP is just one of hundreds of institutions that offered gainful employment programs.

Avoiding and Lessening Penalties

To avoid, or lessen the penalties levied by the Department of Education, it is essential for institutions to submit disclosures as soon as possible.  If you received one of these letters OR may be you’re just uncertain of whether or not your school is in compliance, make sure to visit IFAP’s Gainful Employment Information Page, as well as, download the NSLDS GE User Guide.  Additionally, HEAG has successfully assisted schools in complying with all new GE reporting and disclosure requirements.  If assistance is needed, please contact HEAG as soon as possible.

About the Author:

Colleen King, Executive Director, HEAG

Colleen King

Colleen is HEAG’s Executive Director.  She previously served as a consultant with HEAG and has more than thirteen years of extensive experience within a financial aid office. She can be reached at 617-928-1975 or