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1.7.2 Consumer Information Requirements

Schools have a number of student information requirements, including information about:283

  • • The student financial assistance programs available to students who enroll at such institutions;
  • • The methods by which such assistance is distributed among student recipients who enroll at such institutions;
  • • Any means, including forms, by which application for student financial assistance is made and requirements for accurately preparing such application;
  • • The rights and responsibilities of students receiving federal financial assistance;
  • • The cost of attending the institution, including (i) tuition and fees; (ii) books and supplies; (iii) estimates of typical student room-and-board costs or typical commuting costs; and (iv) any additional cost of the program in which the student is enrolled or expresses a specific interest;
  • • A statement of—
  • ° The requirements of any refund policy with which the institution is required to comply;
  • ° The requirements for return of grant or loan assistance; and
  • ° The requirements for officially withdrawing from the institution;
  • • The academic program of the institution, including (i) the current degree programs and other educational and training programs; (ii) the instructional, laboratory, and other physical plant facilities that relate to the academic program; (iii) the faculty and other instructional personnel; and (iv) any plans by the institution for improving the academic program of the institution;
  • • Each person designated as financial assistance personnel and the methods by which and locations in which any person so designated may be contacted by students and prospective students who are seeking information required by this subsection;
  • • Special facilities and services available to students with disabilities;
  • • The names of associations, agencies, or governmental bodies that accredit, approve, or license the institution and its programs, and the procedures under which any current or prospective student may obtain or review upon request a copy of the documents describing the institution’s accreditation, approval, or licensing;
  • • The standards that the student must maintain in order to be considered to be making satisfactory progress;284
  • • The completion or graduation rate of certificate- or degree-seeking, full-time, undergraduate students entering such institutions;285
  • • The terms and conditions of the federal loans that students receive;
  • • The placement in employment of, and types of employment obtained by, graduates of the institution’s degree or certificate programs, gathered from such sources as alumni surveys, student satisfaction surveys, the National Survey of Student Engagement, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, state data systems, or other relevant sources;
  • • The types of graduate and professional education in which graduates of the institution’s four-year-degree programs enrolled, gathered from such sources as alumni surveys, student satisfaction surveys, the National Survey of Student Engagement, state data systems, or other relevant sources; and
  • • The retention rate of certificate- or degree-seeking, first-time, full-time, undergraduate students entering such institutions.

Despite the required information about placement, the HEA is silent on whether a school is required to calculate a placement rate. In 2010, however, the Department added a regulatory provision requiring schools to disclose a placement rate using a methodology developed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).286 Although the NCES had convened a review panel in 2011 to develop a standard methodology for determining the job placement rate, the panel decided that a single job placement rate methodology could not be developed without further study.287 Until NCES is able to develop this methodology, the Department clarified that schools required by their accrediting agencies and/or state to calculate a placement rate must disclose those rates and identify the accrediting agency and/or state agency under whose requirements the rate was calculated. If not required by the accreditor or state, schools are exempted from this regulatory requirement.

Additionally, as described above, for-profit institutions (as well as certain public or nonprofit shorter-term training programs) must provide training for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.288 The Department has previously issued gainful employment rules containing disclosure requirements relating to graduates’ debt and earnings. This rule—and the related requirements—are discussed in § 13.2.2.5, infra.

There are additional requirements for schools to report outcome data. For example, institutions that advertise job placement rates as a means of attracting students to enroll must make available to prospective students, at or before the time that these students apply for enrollment, the most recent available data concerning employment statistics, graduation statistics, and any other information necessary to substantiate the truthfulness of the advertisements.289

All institutions must, on request, make available to any enrolled student or prospective student—through appropriate publications, mailings, or electronic media—information concerning financial assistance and the institution’s completion or graduation rate and, if applicable, its transfer-out rate. In the case of a prospective student, the information must be made available prior to the student’s enrolling or entering into any financial obligation with the institution.290 Institutions must make completion or graduation rates available annually.291

The manipulation of these rates has been a problem, particularly in the for-profit sector, as discussed in Chapter 13, infra.

Footnotes

  • 283 {283} 20 U.S.C. § 1092.

  • 284 {284} See § 1.6.2, supra.

  • 285 {285} See 34 C.F.R. § 668.45 (requirements for calculating these rates).

  • 286 {286} 34 C.F.R. § 668.6(b)(iv).

  • 287 {287} U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #31—Gainful Employment Placement Rates and NCES Methodology (Dec. 22, 2011). See § 13.3.2.4, infra (manipulation of outcome measures).

  • 288 {288} 20 U.S.C. §§ 1001(b), 1002. See § 1.7.1.1, supra.

  • 289 {289} 34 C.F.R. § 668.14(b)(10).

  • 290 {290} 34 C.F.R. § 668.41.

  • 291 {291} 34 C.F.R. § 668.45.