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DOE Guidance on Implementation of Regulations

DOE Guidance on Implementation of Regulations

Guidance Related to Financial Responsibility, Administrative Capability, Certification Procedures, and Ability to Benefit (ATB)

Why This Matters

The Final Rules on Financial Responsibility, Administrative Capability, Certification Procedures and Ability to Benefit (“ATB”) impose a number of significant changes that will impact institutions of higher education. On May 16, 2024, the Department of Education published a Dear Colleague Letter that provides a summary of the requirements that the Department is implementing for the 2024-25 Award Year with regards to the Final Rules on Financial Responsibility, Administrative Capability, Certification Procedures and Ability to Benefit (“ATB”). Institutions should review this Dear Colleague Letter in order to ensure that they are aware of their obligations and responsibilities under the new regulations. The regulations are set to take effect on July 1, 2024.

Regulations Related to Financial Responsibility, Administrative Capability, Certification Procedures, and Ability to Benefit (ATB)

The Department’s Dear Colleague Letter provides a summary of the requirements that the Department is implementing for the 2024-25 Award Year. For each of the new regulations, the Department identifies the modifications in the Final Rule compared to the previous iterations. Of particular note, the Department has revised the certification process in order to “create a more rigorous process for certifying institutions to participate in the Title IV, HEA programs.” The Final Rule revises a previous requirement that imposed a maximum length for Title IV clock-hour programs. The Final Rule limits the amount of allowed clock hours for these programs from 150% of the state minimum in which the institution is located to 100% of the state minimum in which the institution is located, or another state under limited circumstances. The Department has stated that it will implement “enforcement discretion” in implementing this rule,

As announced in Electronic Announcement GE-24-03, the Department understands that there may be circumstances outside of an institution’s control that may prevent compliance with the new requirements under § 668.14(b)(26) and § 668.14(b)(32) by July 1, 2024. However, the Department believes that most of those concerns and challenges will have been resolved or sufficiently mitigated by January 1, 2025. The Department has enforcement discretion with respect to an institution’s compliance with certain Title IV, HEA requirements. Given the concerns received from institutions and States, particularly for the period between July 1, 2024, and January 1, 2025, we will consider exercising this discretion before taking action regarding these two provisions.

AACS recently distributed a Call to Action plan to request Members of Congress to co-sign a bipartisan letter being circulated by Representative Smucker that requests  

the Department of Education to postpone the effective date of the 150% rule to July 1, 2025. This letter clearly demonstrates the importance of this request, as the Department believes that “that most of those concerns and challenges will have been resolved or sufficiently mitigated by January 1, 2025” and, therefore, a further delay of enforcement of the delay is not necessary.

We ask that AACS Members review this Dear Colleague Letter and participate in the Call to Action plan. Please contact us if you have any questions or need any additional information on this matter.

Dear Colleague Letter

Bipartisan Letter

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Another four states – Arizona, Delaware, New Hampshire and Rhode Island – will be adjourning their respective 2024 legislative sessions at the end of the month.

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