The Department of Education (ED) on Wednesday published in the Federal Register a Request for Information (RFI) regarding public transparency for low-financial-value postsecondary programs.
The RFI shares ED’s plans to publish an annual list of low-financial-value programs and solicits public comment on how the department should go about developing the list, including the data, metrics, and methodology it could use to identify such programs.
The term "low-financial-value program" is being used in this context to describe programs in "which total costs exceed the financial benefits provided to students."
ED hopes to use the list to both raise awareness about these programs and to ask those programs to provide to ED their plans for improving them. ED notes the solicitation is separate from any ongoing regulatory work and, as such, is not subject to the formal regulatory process. Programs appearing on the list of low-financial value programs would not be subject to departmental action such as limitation or suspension of eligibility, since changes of that nature would require a rulemaking committee.
ED does, however, highlight in an accompanying fact sheet its ongoing work to finalize the gainful employment (GE) regulations for which ED conducted negotiated rulemaking last spring, and the proposed list would complement those efforts.
Negotiators did not reach consensus on GE last year, and a draft rule is expected this spring. ED’s proposal during negotiations included requiring all programs — not just those leading to gainful employment — to make disclosures of certain GE-related data such as completion rates, median debt, and median earnings. Disclosure of the debt-to-earnings ratio and whether the program passed that metric would be limited, however, to programs at for-profit institutions and certificate programs at all institutions.
Comments are due Feb. 10, 2023. Stay tuned to Today’s News for NASFAA’s comments and updates on this process.
Publication Date: 1/13/2023