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February 27, 2012. Title IV Program Integrity Regulations: State Authorization Incentive Compensation Misrepresentation. Peter S. Leyton, Esq. Ritzert & Leyton, P.C. Disclaimers.

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title iv program integrity regulations state authorization incentive compensation misrepresentation
February 27, 2012Title IV Program Integrity Regulations: State AuthorizationIncentive CompensationMisrepresentation

Peter S. Leyton, Esq.Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

disclaimers
Disclaimers
  • The views expressed in this presentation and its accompanying materials are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of Private Career College.
  • The contents of this presentation and its accompanying materials do not constitute legal or regulatory advice. No one should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this webinar without seeking individualized, professional counsel as appropriate.

Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

note ongoing developments
NOTE: Ongoing Developments

APSCU v. Dept. of Education :

  • Challenging State Authorization, Incentive Compensation and Misrepresentation Regulations.
  • July 12, 2011 Ruling (Currently on Appeal. Oral Argument Scheduled 2/21/2012 in DC Circuit Ct.) 
  • State Authorization: Vacated
    • State authorization rule vacated on procedural grounds – Dept. failed to provide sufficient periods of public notice and comment on the state authorization provisions through rulemaking process.
    • However, Dept. possesses authority to impose licensing mandate on states.
    • Dictum: APSCU lacks legal standing to challenge viability of federal mandate.
  • Incentive Compensation: Upheld
  • Misrepresentation: Upheld

Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

introduction state authorization
Introduction – State Authorization

State Authorization is a core component of the definition of “proprietary institution of higher education” (34 C.F.R. § 600.5):

(a) A proprietary institution of higher

education is an educational institution that—

(4) Is legally authorized to provide an

educational program beyond secondary education in the State in which the institution is physically located;

Department historically had viewed institution as authorized for purposes of Title IV if the institution’s State does not require licensure or authorization to operate in the State.

Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

state authorization cont
State Authorization cont.

The Department’s Final Rule for Program Integrity Issues published October 29, 2010 (75 FR 66946) added the following to 600.5(a)(4):

(a) A proprietary institution of higher

education is an educational institution

that—

(4) Is legally authorized to provide an

educational program beyond secondary education in the State in which the institution is physically located in accordance with

§ 600.9

Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

what is state authorization under 600 9
What is State Authorization under § 600.9?
  • Institution is public, private nonprofit, or for-profit institution established by nameby a State through a charter, statute, or other action issued by an appropriate State agency or State entity as an educational institution authorized to operate educational programs beyond secondary education, including programs leading to a degree or certificate.
    • Such an institution must comply with any applicable State approval or licensure process and be approved or licensed by name; may be exempted from such requirement based on its accreditation, or being in operation at least 20 years.
    • DCL GEN-11-05: A letter from the State acknowledging the institution is not sufficient “other action”.
    • DCL GEN-11-05: Institution must be authorized by all pertinent State agencies, which may extend beyond State educational agency.

Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

what is state authorization under 600 91
What is State Authorization under § 600.9?
  • Institution is established by State on the basis of an authorization to conduct business in the State, or to operate as a nonprofit charitable organization, but not established by name as an educational institution.
    • State must have an approval or licensure process, and the institution must comply with that approval or licensure process and be approved or licensed by name.
    • Such an institution may not be exempted from State approval or licensure based on accreditation, years in operation, or a comparable exemption.
    • DCL GEN-11-05: Articles of incorporation are not sufficient unless specific to the establishment of a postsecondary institution by name under state law (i.e., not the same form of articles as for other businesses or nonprofit entities in the State)

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what is state authorization under 600 92
What is State Authorization under § 600.9?
  • All types of institutions authorized by a State must be subject to a process whereby the State reviews and addresses complaints directly or through referrals.
    • DCL GEN-11-05: Applicable State laws can include general consumer protection and fair-advertising laws. Delegation permitted, but final authority must remain with State.
    • DCL GEN-11-05: If multiple agencies are applicable to an institution, the institution must provide students and prospective students with contact information for filing complaints for all relevant agencies (e.g., nursing and cosmetology boards).

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what is state authorization under 600 93
What is State Authorization under § 600.9?
  • Authorized to operate by Federal or tribal governments:
    • Includes Congressionally-chartered colleges and universities, military service academies.
    • Tribal colleges and universities, provided the tribal government has a process to review and act upon complaints.
  • Exemption for religious institutions:
    • Owned, controlled, operated, and maintained by a religious organization lawfully operating as a nonprofit religious corporation; and
    • Awarding only religious degrees or certificates.

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what is state authorization under 600 94
What is State Authorization under § 600.9?
  • Requirements took effect July 1, 2011
    • For physical campus locations, two one-year extensions are possible if an institution obtains from its state an explanation of how extension(s) will permit the State to modify its procedures to permit compliance.
    • Dear Colleague GEN-11-11 provides some additional time to comply for Distance Education activities, but efforts to comply must be underway (more on that later…)

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distance education under 600 9 c
Distance Education under § 600.9(c)
  • If an institution is offering programs through distance or correspondence education to students in a State in which it is not physically located or in which it is otherwise subject to State jurisdiction as determined by the State, the institution must meet any State requirements for it to be legally offering postsecondary distance or correspondence education in that State.
    • An institution must be able to document to the Department the State’s approval upon request.
    • Regulation shifts focus, for distance education purposes, from where the institution is physically located to where students reside.
    • State requirements in this area can turn on how the state defines “doing business,” “offering educational programs” or “distance education.”

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distance education under 600 9 c1
Distance Education under § 600.9(c)
  • Multiple Dear Colleague Letters:
    • DCL GEN-11-05
      • While the location of a student is initially determined at the time of enrollment, the student’s eligibility under the state authorization requirement must be reevaluated before each new award to the student.
      • There is no Federal minimum number of enrollments to trigger the Title IV requirements.
    • DCL GEN-11-11
      • Department will not initiate enforcement actions to establish liabilities for “distance education activities undertaken before July 1, 2014 if the institution is making good faith efforts to identify and obtain necessary State authorizations before that date.”
      • Department will review carefully instances where institution is not acting in good faith, such as willfully refusing to comply with a State requirement for licensure.

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distance education under 600 9 c2
Distance Education under § 600.9(c)
  • Examples of “good faith efforts” from DCL GEN-11-11:
    • Documentation that an institution is developing a distance education management process for tracking students’ place of residence when engaged in distance education.
    • Documentation that an institution has contacted a State directly to discuss programs the institution is providing to students in that State to determine whether authorization is needed.
    • An application to a State, even if it is not yet approved.
    • Documentation from a State that an application is pending.
    • The Dept. has indicated that the above documentation need not be submitted to the Dept. directly and can be kept in the school’s files in the event the Dept. asks for it.
  • Department initially stated in DCL GEN-11-05 that it would not publish any list of State requirements for distance education.
  • Department reversed position in DCL GEN-11-11 and stated it would develop a comprehensive directory of State requirements.

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state authorization issues and challenges
State AuthorizationIssues and Challenges
  • How can an institution document to the Department that it has all required State Authorizations?
    • What if licensed by more than one State agency?
    • State laws, regulations and policies can change even for physical, ground-based campuses.
    • Licensure by Accreditation option may change or be eliminated (at least as an option for Title IV eligibility) in some States.
  • What if a State in which any institution operates a physical campus does not have a process for approving postsecondary institutions?
    • Is there a sufficient complaint review process?

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state authorization issues and challenges cont d
State AuthorizationIssues and Challenges cont’d.
  • How does an institution know which States will deem its distance education activities to require licensure?
    • Identify the institution’s activities in each State, including but not limited to:
      • Student enrollments
      • Admissions activities and call centers
      • Advertising activities
      • Faculty presence
      • Computer servers
      • Participation at events
      • Externships

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state authorization what is a school to do
State AuthorizationWhat is a school to do?
  • Physical campuses
    • Be sure that school holds all required state authorizations.
    • Review whether state authorizations meet the Department’s standards.
    • Talk with states where school is licensed in some measure by accreditation – what is the state’s view on whether it remains enough?
    • If warranted, coordinate with State officials to request extension(s) from the Department.

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state authorization what is a school to do cont d
State AuthorizationWhat is a school to do? cont’d.
  • Distance education – Don’t wait!
    • Take an inventory of which States you have students, admissions reps or call centers, advertising, faculty, etc.
    • Determine what States are meaningful, you may not want to operate in all 50 States due to the regulatory burden and cost.
    • Find an initial source/survey of state specific information until the Department releases a list to help understand individual State requirements.
    • Begin reaching out to top states where you have students .
    • May need to terminate faculty, change programs by removing externship requirements in order to qualify for exemptions or may need to teach out students.
  • Develop a process to stay current
    • State laws and requirements are changing, and will continue to do so.

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incentive compensation
Incentive Compensation
  • Compensation of any kind to recruiting, admissions, and financial aid employees and entities
  • Existing regulations substantially changed
  • New restrictions on incentives and compensation of any kind
  • Covered parties expanded (“to the top”)
  • New rules on payments to third parties

Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

incentive compensation1
Incentive Compensation

Under New Regs,

  • 12 “safe harbors” eliminated
  • Institution agrees that it will not provide any commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based in any part, directly or indirectly, upon success in securing enrollments or the award of financial aid
  • Applies to persons engaged in any student recruitment or admission activity or in making decisions about the award of financial aid, any employee who undertakes recruiting or admitting of students or who makes decisions about and awards title IV funds, and any higher level employee with responsibility for recruitment or admission of students, or making decisions about awarding title IV funds

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incentive compensation2
Incentive Compensation
  • Activities include contact in any form with a prospective student, such as, but not limited to – contact through preadmission or advising activities, scheduling an appointment to visit the enrollment office or any other office of the institution, attendance at such an appointment, or involvement in a prospective student’s signing of an enrollment agreement or financial aid application
  • Multiple pay adjustments of a covered employee is prima facie evidence of an improper payment

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incentive compensation3
Incentive Compensation

The Preamble

  • ED’s two part test:
    • Is it a Commission, Bonus, or Incentive Payment and
    • Is it paid based in any part, directly or indirectly, on success in securing enrollments or the award of financial aid
  • Salary increase based on merit, seniority, or length of employment allowed subject to the new rule
  • Can apply “to the top” of the institution (i.e. Senior Management)
  • Any additional guidance from ED will come in a broadly applicable format distributed widely to all participating institutions, e.g., 03/17/2011 Dear Colleague Letter (GEN-11-05)
    • Dept.’s reasoning: “senior management may drive the organizational and operational culture at an institution, creating pressures for top, and even middle, management to secure increasing numbers of enrollments from their recruiters.” 75 Fed. Reg. 34818.

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incentive compensation4
Incentive Compensation
  • GEN-11-05: Table 1

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incentive compensation5
Incentive Compensation
  • GEN-11-05: Table 1 cont’d.

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incentive compensation6
Incentive Compensation
  • GEN-11-05:
  • Examples of covered/exempt activities:
    • Employee posts program information on the web and answers general inquiries re: enrollment application and forwards completed applications to school with no additional direct contact with applicants (exempt).
    • 3rd party servicer collects FA information and helps applicant locate other publicly available information about programs & resources in completing FA application with no additional contact with applicant (exempt). If servicer offers further counseling or assistance with completing the application, he/she is performing covered activity.

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incentive compensation7
Incentive Compensation
  • GEN-11-05:
  • Examples of covered/exempt activities cont’d.:
    • Employee tutors students after they are admitted and become eligible for FA but before 1st disbursement or start of classes (exempt).
    • Employee encourages students to consider enrolling before purported enrollment deadline. Employee’s activity is considered recruitment (covered).

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incentive compensation8
Incentive Compensation
  • GEN-11-05:
  • Examples of covered/exempt activities cont’d.:
    • Even though Employee is recruiter (covered), he/she is eligible for a merit annual salary increase based on standard evaluative factors that are independent of the number of students recruited, retained, or graduated.

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incentive compensation9
Incentive Compensation

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incentive compensation10
Incentive Compensation

GEN-11-05: Table 2 cont’d.

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incentive compensation11
Incentive Compensation
  • GEN-11-05:
  • Examples of prohibited/permitted payments:
    • 3rd party servicer provides services that do not include recruitment or awarding financial aid. Any payments made to 3rd party servicer are permitted because activities are exempt. E.g., lead generators paid per click through.
    • Unaffiliated 3rdparty providing school bundled educational services (marketing, enrollment application assistance, recruitment, online course support services, provision of technology, placement services for internships, and student career counseling). Payments based on tuition generated by the 3rd party’s activities are permittedas long as the 3rd party does not make prohibited incentive payments to its employees and the school does not pay 3rd party separately for recruitment services.

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incentive compensation12
Incentive Compensation
  • GEN-11-05:
  • Examples of prohibited/permitted payments cont’d.
    • Vendor ensures that enrollment applications are complete and forwards them to the school. Vendor also receives financial aid files and verification documentation to complete the verification process before returning the FA files to the school. Payments made by Vendor to its own employees based on the number of files processedis permitted because they do not recruit or admit students, or make FA decisions.

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incentive compensation13
Incentive Compensation
  • GEN-11-05:
  • Q: Does incentive comp rule apply to all employees regardless of title or position?
  • A: Yes, but …“Senior managers and executive level employees who are only involved in the development of policy and do not engage in individual student contact or other covered activities listed in Table 1 will not generally be subject to the incentive compensation ban.”

Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

incentive compensation14
Incentive Compensation
  • GEN-11-05:
  • Q: What “standard evaluative factors” other than seniority may an institution take into account in determining compensation of employees?
  • A: any qualitative factor not related to success in securing student enrollments or award of financial aid. e.g., job knowledge, professionalism, analytic ability, initiative in work improvement, clarity in communications, use & understanding of technology, accuracy, thoroughness, dependability, punctuality, adaptability, peer rankings, student evaluations, and interpersonal relations.
    • BEWARE: Despite the Dept.’s guidance on evaluative factors, the Dept. has indicated that it will take action when it perceives that non-enrollment criteria is being used to disguise enrollment-based criteria. (“Disguise”, “Pretext”, “Sham”).

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incentive compensation15
Incentive Compensation

GEN-11-05:

Q: Can you make payments to employees engaged in recruitment or FA decisions based upon a student’s academic performance while enrolled?

A: No. Any incentive comp. for recruiters or FA advisors violates the ban. However, to the extent employees are engaged in exempt activities in Table 1, their activities may be based on successful student performance. e.g., athletic coaches.

Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

incentive compensation16
Incentive Compensation
  • GEN-11-05:
  • Q: When is profit sharing allowed?
  • A: Institutions are allowed to use “profit” for 401(k) contributions and traditional pension plans, “as long as such payments are not designed to benefit recruitment and financial aid personnel distinct from all other institutional employees”.

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hypothetical 1
Hypothetical 1

School X institutes a performance evaluation system rating admissions reps on criteria such as professionalism, punctuality, job knowledge, proficiency with contact management system, and number of calls made and number of interview appointments made. Each criteria is assigned a point value and admissions reps are given a percentage increase in pay based on a sliding scale.

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hypothetical 11
Hypothetical 1
  • Question:
    • Does the plan use appropriate evaluative factors?
    • When asked for documentation as to how X ranked employees on the criteria, X’s HR manager explains that they did not keep records to support each employee’s score. Does this present a compliance issue?

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hypothetical 2
Hypothetical 2

School Y makes an arrangement with a community association to use workers as a “canvassing team”. The team will distribute literature about Y in the neighborhood and at the Association’s HQ. The Association’s president is to be paid a fee for each student referred to the School.

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hypothetical 21
Hypothetical 2
  • Questions:
    • Is the canvassing team covered under the incentive comp rule?
    • Is the canvassing team “recruiting”?
    • Is the distribution of information “targeted”?

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hypothetical 3
Hypothetical 3

School Z develops a plan to compensate its senior management team (SMT) which includes CEO, VP of Operations, CFO, director of marketing, director of admissions, director of education, and director of financial aid. The plan will provide each member of the SMT a bonus if the School increases its EBITDA more than 5% over the prior fiscal year.

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hypothetical 31
Hypothetical 3
  • Questions:
    • Are the members of the SMT covered employees?
    • Is this profit sharing plan permitted?

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hypothetical 4
Hypothetical 4

School AA has been suffering from lower than expected enrollment. AA’s President orders the director of admissions to rank its 5 admissions reps by number of enrollments to-date and fire the two reps with the fewest number of enrollments.

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hypothetical 41
Hypothetical 4
  • Question:
    • Can AA use this information to decide to terminate a covered employee?

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hypothetical 5
Hypothetical 5

School BB evaluates admissions employees on their job knowledge, seniority, and accuracy of data entry in its contact systems each year for possible compensation adjustments. BB also does a semi-annual performance reviewtaking into account the number of outbound calls, appointments, interviews, and starts. BB does not use performance review data for compensation purposes, but uses this information to refer employees for training, to institution progressive discipline, or to terminate an employee. BB has complete records of both evaluations.

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hypothetical 51
Hypothetical 5
  • Question:
    • Is BB’s use of this dual evaluation system proper under the incentive compensation rule?

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new misrepresentation rule
New Misrepresentation Rule
  • The Higher Education Act (HEA) allows ED to suspend or terminate an institution from participation in Title IV Programs for “substantial misrepresentation” that may be made in four general areas:
    • The nature of its educational program
    • Its financial charges
    • Employability of its graduates
    • Relationship with ED
    • Section 487(c)(3) of the HEA of 1965, as amended by the HEA Amendments of 1992 [20 U.S.C. § 1094(c)(3)].
  • Effective July 1, 2011, ED’s amended misrepresentation rule prohibits misrepresentation regarding an institution, including about the nature of the institution’s educational programs, financial charges and graduate employability on which the person to whom it was made could reasonably be expected to rely, or has reasonably relied, to that person’s detriment.
    • 34 C.F.R. §§ 668.71-75.

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what has changed
What has changed?
  • Misrepresentation is now defined more broadly and the sanctions for substantial misrepresentationsare more expansive.

34 C.F.R. § 668.71 and Subsection G.

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misrepresentation defined
Misrepresentation Defined

Any false, erroneous or misleading statement an eligible institution, one of its representatives, or any ineligible institution, organization, or person with whom the eligible institution has an agreement to provide educational programs, or to provide marketing, advertising, recruiting or admissions services makes directly or indirectly to a student, prospective student or any member of the public, or to an accrediting agency, to a State agency, or to the Secretary.

A misleading statement includes any statement that has the likelihood or tendency to deceive or confuse.

A statement is any communication made in writing, visually, orally, or through other means.

Misrepresentation includes the dissemination of a student endorsement or testimonial that a student gives either under duress or because the institution required the student to make such an endorsement or testimonial to participate in a program.

34 C.F.R. § 668.71(c).

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dear colleague letter
Dear Colleague Letter
  • ED has issued sub-regulatory guidance regarding the misrepresentation rule in a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL). The DCL does not fundamentally change the requirements but it clarifies that institutions will have statutory rights* to notice and hearing before sanctions may be imposed, and that the rule applies only to those misrepresentations regarding the institution’s educational programs, financial charges and graduate employability, and not just any misrepresentation regarding an eligible institution.

U.S. Department of Education, Dear Colleague Letter re Implementation of Program Integrity Regulations, GEN-11-05 (Mar. 17, 2011).

* NOTE: The due process protections of 668 Subpart G are not required when ED pursues a revocation of a PPA or denies an application for recertification.

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misrepresentation
Misrepresentation
  • “Mislead” – likelihood or tendency to deceive or confuse.
    • How? Statements made in writing, visually, orally, or through other means.
    • By Whom? Made by representatives, agents, vendors, as well as marketing, advertising, recruiting, and admissions services.
    • To Whom? Made directly or indirectly to students, prospective students, accrediting agency, State agency, Secretary, or any member of the public.

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nature of education program 668 72
Nature of Education Program (§668.72)
  • Type, Nature, and Status of Accreditation
  • Transferability of credits
  • Whether successful completion of course qualifies student for:
    • Acceptance to labor union
    • Government issued license or nongovernmental certification
    • Satisfaction of conditions generally needed to secure employment in the occupation
  • Requirements for successfully completing the program including grounds for terminating enrollment.
  • Whether courses are recommended or have been the subject of unsolicited testimonials or endorsements.
  • Availability, frequency, and appropriateness of courses and programs to employment objectives

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nature of education program 668 72 continued
Nature of Education Program (§668.72) (Continued)
  • Nature, age, and availability of training devices or equipment
  • Availability of part-time employment or other forms of financial assistance
  • Nature and availability of any tutorial or other supplementary assistance needed before, during or after course completion
  • Nature or extent of any prerequisites for enrollment in any course
  • Subject matter, content of course of study, or any other fact related to the credential awarded upon completion of course of study
  • Whether academic, professional, or occupational degree conferred has been authorized by appropriate State agency
  • Matters required to be disclosed under 34 C.F.R. 668.42 (Financial Aid) & 668.43 (School Information)

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nature of financial charges 668 73
Nature of Financial Charges (§668.73)
  • Offers of scholarships
  • Whether a charge is customary charge
  • Cost of program and refund policy
  • Availability or nature of financial assistance
  • Duty to repay loans regardless of whether student completes program or obtains employment
  • Student’s right to reject financial aid or other assistance or whether student must apply for particular type of aid

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employability of graduates 668 74
Employability of Graduates (§668.74)
  • School’s relationship with any organization, employment agency, or other agency providing authorized training leading directly to employment
  • School’s plans to maintain placement services for graduates or otherwise assist in obtaining employment
  • School’s knowledge about current or likely future conditions, compensation, or employment opportunities in industry
  • Whether employment is being offered by institution or that a talent hunt/contest is being conducted
  • Government job statistics in relation to potential placement
  • Other requirements generally needed to be employed:
    • commercial driving licenses
    • license to carry firearms
    • failing to disclose factors that would prevent applicant from qualifying for such requirements, such as existing prior criminal record or preexisting medical conditions

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relationship with dept of ed 668 75
Relationship with Dept. of ED (§668.75)

School or Third-Party Vendor may not describe School’s participation in Title IV programs in manner suggesting approval or endorsement by ED.

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how to prepare
Howto Prepare
  • Review all website pages, marketing materials (including print, tv, and radio copy), catalogs, and any other written materials distributed to the public
  • Review filings made with accreditors and state agencies to ensure accuracy
  • Evaluate training materials to make sure they are compliant: e.g., scripts for admissions reps
  • Review all contracts with Third-Party Vendors whose services may involve representations to the public about the School
  • Periodic reviews or audits of Third-Party Vendor activities

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third party contracts limiting risk via contract terms
Third Party Contracts - Limiting Risk Via Contract Terms
  • Content Pre-Approval Clause
    • Defining “Content” Broadly
    • Require Pre-Approval for Broad Categories of Content
    • Require Use of Disclaimers and Qualifiers
    • Prohibit Publication Without Prior Written Approval and Prohibit Alteration Post-Approval
    • Require Vendor to Include Context in Which the Content Will Appear
    • Use of Call Center - Require Institution-Approved Script and Access to Call Recordings
    • Require Vendor to Provide Location (URL) For All Content
    • Require Vendor to Copy Institutional Contact on All Communications Sent by Vendor

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limiting risk via contract terms cont d
Limiting Risk Via Contract Terms cont’d.

Comprehensive Indemnity Clause

Clause Regarding Vendor Insurance Coverage

Clause Regarding Mandatory Vendor Compliance Training

Clause Regarding Compliance with Law

Clause Stating Prohibitions Regarding Referrals and Inquiry of Referrals

Clause Regarding Use of Partners of Sub-Vendors

Obligations Upon Termination

Clause Regarding Independent Contractor Relationship

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misrepresentation1
Misrepresentation
  • PENALTIES
    • Revocation of Program Participation Agreement
      • (the most extreme consequence: ends participation in Title IV without due process protections provided in 34 CFR 668 Subpart G) (Note: only applies to provisionally certified schools).
    • Denial of Participation Applications, e.g., denial of application for recertification.
    • Proceedings seeking fine, limitation, suspension, or termination (fine can amount up to $27,500 per misrepresentation).

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potential statutory actions
Potential Statutory Actions
  • False Claims Act – increased number of qui tam actions in sector.
  • State Deceptive Trade Practices
  • State Agency Rules and Regulations
  • Criminal Fraud

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limitations in scope
Limitations in Scope
  • GEN-11-05:
  • Q: Do the misrepresentation regulations create a private right of action?
  • A: No.
  • Q: Do the misrepresentation regulations extend beyond substantial misrepresentations made re: educational programs, financial charges, employability of graduates, or relationship with ED?
  • A: No, the rule did not expand the scope of misrepresentation beyond the four listed areas.

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enforcement
Enforcement

How might the Department Chose to Enforce?

“the Department has also always operated within a rule of reasonableness and has not pursued sanctions without evaluating the available evidence in extenuation and mitigation as well as in aggravation.”

75 FR 66914 (October 29, 2010)

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Enforcement
  • “As noted elsewhere in this preamble, the Department enforces its regulations, including those in subpart F of part 668 with a rule of reasonableness. …For this reason, we agree to limit the reach of the ban on making substantial representations to statements made by any ineligible institution, organization, or person with whom the eligible institution has an agreement to provide educational programs or those that provide marketing, advertising, recruiting, or admissions services.”

Federal Register, April 13, 2011 (76 FR 20636)

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Enforcement
  • “…As a result, statements made by students through social media outlets will generally not be covered by these misrepresentation regulations.”
  • Also statements made by entities that have agreements with the institution to provide services other than those relating to educational programs, marketing, advertising, recruiting, or admissions services will generally not be covered by these misrepresentation regulations (Example: Food Service).

Federal Register, April 13, 2011 (76 FR 20536)

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related regulations
Related Regulations
  • §668.16: Standards of administrative capability – Ability to adequately administer the Title IV Program
  • §668.24: Record retention – Title IV Documentation (Generally 3 Years).
  • §668.82: Standard of conduct – Institution as a fiduciary.

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Hypothetical # 1

Admissions Rep (“A.R.”) at the Institution contacts Prospective Student (“P.S.”) by telephone and invites P.S. to tour the campus.  P.S. arrives at the Institution and takes the tour. Afterward P.S. and A.R. sit down in A.R.’s office to discuss the Institution’s programs and possible enrollments.   P.S. asks A.R. how much the Institution charges for tuition for its Associate Degree program in Cartography.   A.R. replies “tuition, with all the fees, plus the books and supplies you will need should come to about $22,000, but you can get financial aid to pay for most of it.” 

Has A.R. misrepresented the nature of financial charges?

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Hypothetical # 2

P.S. asks if he can get a bachelor’s degree at Institution.   A.R. replies that Institution does not offer bachelor’s degree programs right now, but since Institution is accredited that P.S. is able to transfer credits to another Institution that is accredited by the same accrediting body if he wants to continue progressing toward a 4 year degree.

Is A.R.’s statement about the transfer of credits false? Does accreditation guarantee acceptance of transfer credits between institutions?

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Hypothetical # 3

P.S. asks A.R. if it will be necessary to get a loan to cover P.S..’s educational costs.  A.R. replies, “That depends, if you can get a scholarship or a grant, you might not need a loan. If you get a loan but later decide that Institution is not for you, you will be able to leave school before you finish your program, because Institution has a refund policy and you will not have to pay your loans back.”

Is A.R. making a misleading statement to P.S. about the Institution’s refund policy? Does any institution have a refund policy as generous as the one A.R. describes?

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Hypothetical # 4

P.S. asks A.R. if he’ll be able to get a good job after graduation.  A.R. hands P.S. a piece of paper which shows that Institution had a 88% placement rate in 2009.  He then provides A.R. with a report from the Department of Labor showing that the average salary of Cartographers in the United States is $55,000 a year and that there was a “bright outlook” for jobs in that field.  As he is handing these materials to P.S., A.R., mentions that “there is some more information on the web”.  A.R. also tells P.S. “We have a placement services office here at Institution that will help you get a job.”

Is the data provided by A.R. accurate or misleading? Could A.R.’s statement be misinterpreted as a guarantee of employment?

Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

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Hypothetical # 5

Your school must report placement data to an accrediting commission as well as the State Department of Education. Your placement rate when calculated by the accrediting commission is 72%. However, when you complete the calculation according to the State’s methodology, your placement rate is 95%. Your print and radio ads regularly mention that 95% of students are employed after graduation, but don’t provide more detail. In addition, Admissions Representatives highlight “95% placement” as an important factor prospective students should consider.

What potential regulatory problems might your school face under this scenario?

Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

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Hypothetical # 6

Your school’s Advertising Manager intends to implement a new advertising campaign. He shows you the ad copy, which includes photos of enrolled students and attributes quotations to them. Examples of the quotes he wants to use include, “What a great education, I found a job right after I graduated!”; “The School delivered the type of hands-on training I expected!”; “I’m making $40,000 a year in my new career!”; “I finished the program in only 6 months, you can too!”; “I loved the small classes and my classmates at the School!”; and “Without the School’s training, I could never have started my new career!” When you ask, the Advertising Manager says he has releases giving the school permission to use each student’s name and likeness in its advertising. However, he made up some of the quotations and states the release he has will protect the school.

Do any of the quotations attributed to students raise compliance –related concerns? What if the Advertising Manager obtained a release from each student giving permission to use those quotations?

Ritzert & Leyton, P.C.

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Questions?

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Peter S. Leyton is the president of the Washington, D.C. area law firm of Ritzert & Leyton, P.C. (R&L) and head of the firm’s education practice group. Since 1980, Peter has represented many institutions of higher education, publicly traded companies, private investment groups and others with respect to resolving regulatory/compliance matters as well as with respect to achieving desired transactional results through mergers, acquisitions and reorganizations. This work involves daily interaction with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), national, regional and programmatic accrediting agencies as well as state licensing agencies and other third parties. Peter is presently serving in his second term on the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities board of directors and is actively involved in advising APSCU on legislative, regulatory and litigation matters. Mr. Leyton received his law degree from Catholic University Columbus School of Law in 1980, a master's degree in public administration from American University in 1974, and a bachelor's degree in political science from Antioch College in 1971.

Telephone: (703) 934-9826 www.ritzert-leyton.com Email: pleyton@ritzert-leyton.com

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