Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

Recent events such as the American Council on Education’s release of their Recalibrating Regulation of Colleges and Universities report, the introduction of the Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act, and APSCU’s latest motion in their suit against the Gainful Employment rule may give hope to colleges that are feeling overburdened by regulation compliance these days. However, none of these recent events can guarantee that the Gainful Employment rule will not go into effect as planned on July 1st of this year, and with the first reporting deadline falling just a few short weeks after the rule is intended to go into effect, schools need to begin planning now.

If the rule passes, then schools will be required to report a mountain of data on July 31st, 2015. On this day, schools will be required to report identifying information, dates of attendance, enrollment status, dates of withdrawal or completion, total debt, total tuition and fees assessed, and all placement rate information as required by any accreditor or state agency for award years 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14 (note that for medical and dental programs that require an internship or residency, institutions must also provide data for award year 2007-08). As if that wasn’t enough, just two months later on October 1st, 2015, schools must report student data for award year 2014 – 15.

The Department of Education has made a number of tools available to institutions, and the two most useful for institutions still in the planning process are The Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #52 and The NSLDS Gainful Employment User Guide.  Any institutions still seeking clarification on how the rule may affect their operations may also find the following resources to be of help: The Department’s January 2015 webinars on data file uploading procedures or the FAQ section of the Department’s Gainful Employment page. Each of these resources has been developed in part or in whole by the Department of Education to assist schools in their preparations for Gainful Employment compliance.

Preparing your school for Gainful Employment compliance can include strategies such as revitalizing your programs by eliminating courses that are not directly linked to employability and improving program viability by aligning learning outcomes with employer-vetted competencies. For those of you who may appreciate a specialist working alongside you and showing you the ways to best prepare your institution for this upcoming change, Wonderlic Education Solutions Strategic Consulting Services includes Gainful Employment compliance review and recommendations.

While there is no shortage of options, there is a shortage of time!

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