The Overlooked Details of NPRM

Virtually all programs - degree and non-degree, nonprofit and for-profit, will be affected

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So much discussion of US federal policy in education in this newsletter. Is it too much or not enough? That’s a balance we are trying to achieve, but I have to admit that the Department of Education is making this difficult.

The recent Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) is so much bigger in impact than the headline Gainful Employment rules and even the gutting of State Authorization Reciprocity, as described by a recent post by law firm CooleyED titled “Lurking Behind the Headline: Significant Regulatory Changes Beyond Gainful Employment in ED’s Latest NPRM.”

This NPRM comes on the heels of a litany of new rules, including, among others, rules that broaden borrower defense to repayment (BDR) regulations, tighten the 90/10 calculation, and update change in control regulations, all set to take effect July 1, 2023. Also in the background are substantial recent policy and regulatory announcements, including guidance broadening the scope and interpretation of the third-party servicer rules, a push to require individual board members and executives to assume liability for institutional funds, and another large negotiated rulemaking set to roll out in 2023. Individually, each of these new initiatives requires close review and attention but collectively, this recent flurry of activity is unwieldy at best, and the breadth of the NPRM requires an all-hands approach to understand and prepare for the potential impact.

It’s important to note that, while the spotlight is on the new GE rule, several of the other proposals in this NPRM will have a significant impact on institutional operations and eligibility for public, nonprofit and proprietary institutions.

The whole post is worth reading for US higher education leaders, as the combined impact will be enormous. And you’ll notice the consistent theme of consumer protection. This administration is almost entirely focused on finding the bad guys and fining / punishing / holding accountable.

Thus far, I believe that too many people still think these rules primarily impact for-profit institutions - and indeed, that sector drives a lot of these changes. But nonprofit institutions are going to see major consequences, whether intended or not.

One that I will highlight (again) is the reporting and student click-through acceptance of the same gainful employment metrics that are hitting the for-profits across the board (degree and non-degree) and nonprofit non-degree Title-IV programs. CooleyED:

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