Gainful Employment: New Priorities For U.S. Higher Education IT Departments

Career College Central summary:

  • On Dec. 11, 2013, the United States Department of Education posted a 68-page draft of regulations for "Gainful Employment (GE)." Gainful Employment currently only applies to certificate and other programs that do not lead to a degree, but may be extended to all postsecondary programs.For the first time, these regulations introduce starting salaries as a condition for students to receive federal financial aid. The regulations also impose financial penalties for institutions whose students in these programs fail to repay their federal student loans. Required disclosures to students have been expanded, as has reporting to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Each of these factors add new requirements for administrative IT (Information Technology). In the next six months, colleges and universities will need to review their current admission, curricula, financial aid, career center and student services for effectiveness, costs and risks in this new environment. Because of the number of GE instructional programs found in for-profit and public community colleges, the proposed regulations will be most burdensome for them.
  • As written, the regulations would now apply to 11,735 instructional programs. Data analysis shows federal financial aid would be terminated for 1,496 of these — likely with financial penalties. 880 programs must be upgraded in order for students to continue to receive federal financial aid. As the department reported, "Fewer than 1,000 out of the approximately 6,000 institutions that are currently participating in the Title IV programs have no GE Programs."
  • Although no new IT student administrative systems are required before the regulations become effective July 1, 2015, the required Web site disclosure and written acknowledgement must be completed before any students are enrolled in these programs. This makes Jan. 1, 2015 a likely date for initial implementation.To keep up with the new regulations, curriculum management modules now become a key enterprise IT component. The Department of Education has stringent documentation requirements for seeking approval of new programs in addition to institutional or state approval processes. The required data needs to remain available for at least seven years.
  • Each year, the college or university has to report on each student enrolled in a GE program (34 CFR §668.410), beginning with the 2010-2011 academic year. To illustrate scope, there are 23 required data elements: Ten would typically be found in curriculum management, two from financial aid, two from enrollment and one from student accounts. Five are required to identify the student. New data requirements include tuition and fees charged to the student. All reports are required by Oct. 1, 2015.
  • Disclosures must include related primary occupations using the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) code with links to the BLS' O*NET Resource Center site for each one. Program completion and withdrawal rates, length of the program, total number enrolled, loan repayment rate, cost of tuition and fees and books and supplies, placement rate, median loan debt, median earnings, the debt/earning rates, a link to the department's Navigator Web site and program accreditation are also required.

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