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Regulatory Update: Department Guidance on Certification Procedures Final Rule

Regulatory Update: Department Guidance on Certification Procedures Final Rule

Why This Matters

On May 20, 2024, the Department of Education released an Electronic Announcement (“EA”) addressing FAQs related to the new Financial Responsibility and Certification Procedures (including clock hour program length limitations) set to go into effect on July 1, 2024. 

What You Should Know

On May 20, 2024, the Department published an EA with two sets of Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQs”) providing additional guidance on the Financial Responsibility and Certification Procedures Final Rules. These rules take effect on July 1, 2024. The Department indicated that it will add future FAQs to its website as it receives additional questions.

The EA includes a number of questions related to the revised 100% Certification Rule, 34 CFR 668.14(b)(26). Among the key questions are the following:

GEPH-Q1: If an institution does not want to reduce the number of hours in a program to the minimum required by their State, is it permitted to only consider part of the program to be Title IV eligible? For example, if the minimum number of hours required by the State is 1,530 hours, but a program has 1,545 hours, can Title IV funds be used to cover only up to the 1,530 hours? Or are schools required to reduce the number of hours to the state’s minimum number of hours in order for the program to remain Title IV eligible?

GEPH-A1: No. Institutions cannot partially fund programs with Title IV funds. In order to maintain Title IV eligibility, 34 CFR 668.14(b)(26)(ii) requires institutions to reduce the number of credit or clock hours in their GE program to the State’s minimum number of hours. GE programs that exceed these length restrictions by any amount are ineligible in their entirety for Title IV funds.

GEPH-Q3: What happens if a State’s licensure requirement is lower than the minimum number of hours required by an institution’s accrediting agency? For example, if the minimum number of credits required by the State is 500 hours but the accrediting agency requires 600 hours for the same program, must the school then limit the program to the minimum required by the State even if means the program loses its accreditation and, therefore, it’s Title IV eligibility?

GEPH-A3: As stated in 34 CFR 668.14(b)(26)(ii)(A), the State’s minimum number of hours required for training in the recognized occupation is the limit for the number of hours a program may include. The regulations do not account for limitations set by the accrediting agency. In this case, either the accrediting agency or the State would need to change their requirements to meet the State’s minimum number of clock hours, credit hours, or the equivalent for the program to maintain its Title IV eligibility.

GEPH-Q4: Can an institution submit a program for updated program length approval or acknowledgement by the Department before it receives approval from its accrediting agency and State?

GEPH-A4: No. If an institution’s accrediting agency and/or State requires the institution to receive approval prior to making the program length change, the institution must obtain those approvals before submitting the program to the Department for approval or acknowledgement.

For more information:

Department Announcement

Certification Procedure FAQ

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