February 20, 2018

Possible changes to gainful employment signaled by the DOE

Recent discussions from the department of education indicate changes may be in the works.

 

Session 1: December 4-7, 2017

 

Issue Paper #1

 

Issue:                          Scope and Purpose

Statutory cites:           20 U.S.C. § 1221e-3; 20 U.S.C. § 3474; 20 U.S.C. § 1231a; 20 U.S.C. §§ 1001(b)(1), 1002(b)(1)(A)(i), (c)(1)(A); 20 U.S.C. § 1088(b)

 Regulatory cites:       34 CFR § 668.401

Summary of issue:     On October 31, 2014, the Department published final regulations establishing standards and other requirements for title IV-eligible programs that prepare students for gainful employment (GE) in a recognized occupation.   Those regulations went into effect on July 1, 2015.

 

The regulations established an accountability and transparency framework for GE programs.  The accountability framework conditions the eligibility of a GE program based on (1) the program’s performance under a debt-to-earnings (D/E) rate measure and (2) the institution’s certification that the program meets certain accrediting agency and State requirements.  The transparency framework provides students, prospective students, and their families with accurate and comparable information about a GE program to better inform their educational and financial decisions about enrolling or continuing in the program.  Finally, the GE regulations included reporting requirements to provide the Department with information required under both the accountability and transparency frameworks.  In adopting the accountability framework, the Department acted under its authority under sections 101, 102, and 481(b) of the HEA, which pertain solely to GE programs, among other authorities.  The Department also relied on its broader authority under the General Education Provisions Act and the Department of Education Organization Act.

 

A common criticism of the GE regulations is that one of the problems the rules aim to address—students being saddled with unaffordable levels of loan debt in relation to their earnings—is an issue across all institutions, and not just those that offer GE programs.  In addition, some have argued that many of the factors contributing to poor student outcomes, as measured by the D/E rates, are outside of the control of an institution.  Accordingly, some have suggested that the regulations should apply to all programs, not just GE programs, and that the loss of eligibility resulting from poor D/E rates is unfairly punitive.  Critics have also argued that the reporting and compliance requirements are overly burdensome.

 

In the issue papers that follow, we discuss in detail the individual components of the GE regulations.  Here we address broad issues of scope and purpose of the regulations.


 

Questions for consideration by the committee:

  • Should the regulations apply, in whole or in part, to all programs or just GE programs?
  • Should the Department retain, amend, or eliminate the accountability framework?
    • Should the Department retain, amend, or eliminate the D/E rates? For all programs or just GE programs?
    • If retained or amended, should the D/E rates measure be used to determine eligibility, result in other sanctions (e.g., warnings or other enhanced disclosures), and/or be used as a disclosure? If retained or amended for purposes of disclosure, should this pertain to all programs or just GE programs?
    • Should the Department retain, amend, or eliminate the certification requirements? For all programs or just GE programs?
  • Should the Department retain, amend, or eliminate the transparency framework? For all programs or just GE programs?
    • If D/E rates are removed from the accountability framework, should D/E rates be used for disclosures under the transparency framework?
  • Are program disclosures alone effective in helping enrolled and prospective students identify lower-performing programs with respect to job earnings?

 

Articles on this topic:

https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/11/30/education-department-signals-possible-changes-gainful-employment-rule#.Wh_84Y-jBFo.linkedin

https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-gop-to-propose-sweeping-changes-to-higher-education-1511956800

Capella & Strayer tie the Knot!

capella and strayer merge

Strayer Education Inc. and Capella Education Co. announced Monday they are merging, in a $2 billion deal that will make the combined company one of the largest for-profit college operators in the country.

Shareholders in Herndon, Va.-based Strayer will own 52 percent of the combined company’s stock, while Capella investors will hold the rest. Both boards have voted unanimously for the deal, which the companies anticipate will close in the third quarter of 2018. They will need state and federal approvals, including a thumbs up from the Department of Education.

Neither Strayer nor Capella has endured the legal headaches of some of their competitors, yet tepid growth in the number of people seeking degrees remains a hurdle — but one that investment analysts say the combined companies may be able to overcome.

Link to article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/10/30/for-profit-college-operators-capella-and-strayer-join-forces-in-a-2-billion-merger/?utm_term=.2e826d6c5d1a 

 

Analysis of the proposed merger by Trace Urdan:

In the all-stock transaction as described, CPLA investors will receive 0.875 STRA shares and own 48% of the combined company post-merger. On a combined basis the new company will offer 135 degrees and certificate programs to more than 80,000 students. Its revenue will approach $900 million annually, its EBITDA will approach $130 million and its distributable free cash flow will be approximately $80 million. Its implied equity value will be roughly $1.9 billion.

The new entity will combine back office operations and share best practices, but each academic institution will be separately and independently maintained and operated. Pending approval by the U.S. Department of Education, each of its accreditors (HLC and Middle States) and various state regulatory entities, it expects to close the transaction within the next eight months. The new parent company will change its name to Strategic Education and retain the STRA ticker.

Link to full analysis:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/chocolate-bars-vs-candy-corn-sorting-strayer-capellas-trace-urdan/?trackingId=dRoiTGJ4KKEI1VdwCq%2FWaQ%3D%3D

DOE Will Allow Two Large For-Profit Colleges To Become Nonprofits

US Department of Education

The Education Department has offered its stamp of approval for the controversial sale of two massive for-profit colleges, Kaplan University and the Art Institutes, according to emails obtained by BuzzFeed News — allowing both schools to convert to nonprofit colleges. Kaplan, which was purchased by Purdue University, will become a public college.

The two high-profile conversions have been closely watched by the for-profit education industry, which sees them as a bellwether for future attempts to convert to nonprofits. More and more for-profit colleges have been eyeing conversions as the industry continues to struggle to enroll students.

But there were questions about whether conversions would be allowed by federal overseers. The Obama administration had begun to block such deals over concerns that schools would not actually operate as nonprofits, independent from the for-profit entities that once owned them. There were also worries in and out of the administration that nonprofit conversions were being used to evade regulations.

 

Link to article: https://www.buzzfeed.com/mollyhensleyclancy/the-education-department-will-allow-two-large-for-profit?utm_term=.ojznP2Dyy0#.kn14qB2PPN

 

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Cosmetology Schools get a little win in Gainful Employment

cometology and the GE rule

A small victory for Cosmetology schools.

A Federal Judge Partially Blocks Enforcement of Gainful-Employment Rule as it pertains to cosmetology schools

6/28/17 A federal district court judge issued an order Wednesday partially blocking enforcement of the gainful-employment rule for cosmetology schools that sued in February to halt the regulation.  Case 1:17-cv-00263-RC Document 30 Filed 06/28/17

The Department of Education  had defended gainful employment in court in March but earlier this month it announced that it would pursue a rewrite of the regulation.

The Federal judge ordered that the cosmetology schools be given additional flexibility with filing appeals of earnings data and that the department must now give those schools more time to file appeals. The order applies only to American Association of Cosmetology Schools programs.

In this case, the Court considers whether the Department of Education (“DOE”) acted
arbitrarily and capriciously with respect to cosmetology schools when it decided to
presumptively use earnings data that does not account for unreported income. Although the
DOE was justified in using reported income as the presumptive measure of overall income, it
arbitrarily and capriciously made rebutting that presumption overly difficult.
In setting standards that determine which proprietary schools’ graduates are entitled to
federally backed student loans, the DOE looks to the rates at which the schools’ graduates are
“gainfully employed.” To determine whether graduates are gainfully employed, the DOE has
adopted a test that compares the graduates’ income levels to their levels of debt. To determine
the graduates’ income, the DOE presumptively uses the Social Security Administration’s
(“SSA”) income data. This data does not account for income that is not reported to the Internal
Case 1:17-cv-00263-RC Document 30 Filed 06/28/17 Page 1 of 40
2
Revenue Service. Schools may appeal the DOE’s use of SSA data through “alternate earnings
appeals,” which, if successful, allow them to use alternate measures of income before the debt
to-earnings rates become final. To submit such an appeal, a school is required to use either state
sponsored data pertaining to over half of its graduates during the relevant timeframe or gather
income data on almost all of its graduates through a survey. Schools that fail the debt-to
earnings test for a long enough time lose eligibility for federal loans. Schools at immediate risk
of losing federal-loan eligibility are required to warn their students and prospective students that
they may be ineligible for student loans in the near future.

Link to the official order

Devos to potentially roll back Gainful employment and borrower repayment policies

devos gainful employment

DeVos Will Roll Back 2 Obama Regulations, a Blow to Consumer Advocates – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The U.S. Department of Education is beginning the process of rolling back two Obama-era regulations aimed at holding for-profit colleges accountable and helping students who may have been misled or defrauded by them: the borrower-defense-to-repayment regulation, which was scheduled to go into effect on July 1, and the gainful-employment regulation, which was already in effect.

The gainful-employment regulation was meant to hold career-preparation programs accountable for the outcomes of their graduates. Specifically, if the estimated loan payments of a program’s graduates exceed a certain percentage of their income over a period of years, then the program would risk losing federal student aid.

The industry is finally feeling some relief

Link to Chronicle article:  http://www.chronicle.com/article/DeVos-Will-Roll-Back-2-Obama/240337?cid=wsinglestory_hp_1

 

Special VIP rate for Group Members Capital Roundtable PE investing in Education conference NYC

Market Driven Edu is pleased to announce The Capital Roundtable’s full-day conference on Private Equity Investing in Education-Focused Companies.

 

Coming up on Tuesday, July 18, in New York City, the theme of this conference is Education from 2017 to 2021 — What’s Next for Investors?

 

As a friend of Market Driven Edu, you qualify for a special VIP rate — $995 ($500 off the standard rate).  To register, please call Sarah Burd, at 212-832-7300 ext. 0, or email her at sburd@capitalroundtable.com.

 

These are exciting times for private investors in education-focused companies, even amid the uncertainty about what’s going to happen next.  Despite galactic differences of opinion, everyone’s goal is to deliver great education to as many people as possible.

 

Education is facing changes and challenges in all sectors.  Pre-K is becoming professionalized, migrating away from traditional childcare to more school-based curriculums.  Public K-12 schools are lagging behind, leading to the expansion of new alternatives, such as charter schools and pri­vate schools.  Higher education costs are rising faster than inflation, financial aid isn’t keeping up, and colleges need innovative solutions for keeping costs down.  And the gap is widening between the skills students are learning and the skills employers say workers need.

 

Chairing the conference is Dan Neuwirth, a general partner at Quad Partners. Dan co-founded the firm in 2000 and has led investments across its education portfolio.  Prior to Quad, he worked in investment banking and principal investing at Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, and at Goldman Sachs & Co.

 

Our 20 knowledgeable speakers will boost your knowledge of this attractive area through their first-hand experiences and by answering key questions. See speaker list here.

 

At this conference, you’ll enjoy exceptional networking opportunities. The agenda includes ample time, with session breaks and a buffet lunch, to exchange ideas, swap business cards, and form new relationships.

 

To register, please call Sarah Burd, at 212-832-7300 ext. 0, or email her at sburd@capitalroundtable.com.

 

Please be sure to mention Market Driven Edu to receive this low VIP rate.  And note this rate is not available online. 

Special discount for CECU Conference, formerly the CCA!

cecu

Special group Member discount for CECU Conference, formerly the CCA

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Will Devos help spur growth in the for profit sector?

betsy

HP article:

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was the first and only senator to really press DeVos on for-profit college accountability issues. She asked DeVos, who admitted to have almost no higher education management or college aid experience, if she supported protecting federal taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud, and abuse?  DeVos said yes. Warren said she was glad to know that, since Trump’s higher education experience consisted of fraud so bad at his fake unaccredited university that he paid out $25 million to settle claims from students and New York’s attorney general.

Warren pushed, asking DeVos exactly how she would stop fraud. DeVos: “The individuals with whom I work in the Department will ensure that federal monies are used properly and appropriately.”

Warren pressed further, noting that there are already “a whole group of rules“ written by the Obama Administration to protect college students. In particular, she asked DeVos whether she would commit to enforcing the gainful employment rule, which would penalize career college programs, whether at a for-profit, non-profit, or public college, that leave graduates with insurmountable debt. New data released by the Department confirms what for-profit colleges feared as they have lobbied fiercely against the rule: 98 percent of the programs flunking the test in its first year were for-profits.

DeVos responded, “We will certainly review that rule and see that it is actually achieving what the intentions are.”

Link to article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidhalperin/devos-declines-to-support_b_14235348.html

 

Wash Post:

Some amount of deflection in responding to pointed questions is inevitable. In some cases, DeVos may not have figured out her position yet on various questions, some of which were overly-specific, and a bit unfair. I didn’t find it unreasonable for her to decline to commit to specific current regulations under ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) that she might seek to modify or change.

The most evasive language, in my view, emerged in response to questions about school and college accountability. DeVos was reluctant to commit to strong federal efforts to ensure that all schools will be held accountable. Asked about financial risks posed by charter schools with relationships to Charter Management Organizations, many of which are for-profit, she dodged the issue, responding merely that she would work to “hold schools accountable for educating students.”

And after ducking Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D-Va.) question about equal accountability for all schools receiving federal funds four times in person, she’s said nothing to clarify her position.

Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/02/01/the-good-evasive-and-very-bad-answers-betsy-devos-gave-to-questions-from-democrats-about-education/?utm_term=.071c53e754ee 

EDU Dive:

  • The growing potential for Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos to support deregulation for for-profit colleges and rollback several guidelines for federal standards on postgraduate outcomes takes centerstage in a Huffington Post editorial this week.
  • Author David Halperin explains that the for-profit industry has reaped billions in public funded student loans while leaving students with little-to-no prospect for gainful employment. But inaccuracies in federal reporting on these outcomes has allowed DeVos and Republicans to challenge the policies outright.
  • DeVos declined to endorse guidance for gainful employment and accountability standards for federal funding to institutions of all types.

Link: http://www.educationdive.com/news/would-betsy-devos-scale-back-regulations-on-for-profit-colleges/435341/

Private Equity Investing in Education-Focused Companies 1/26 – Special Discounted Invitation

capital roundtable

MarketDrivenEdu is pleased to announce The Capital Roundtable’s full-day conference on Private Equity Investing in Education-Focused Companies.

 

Coming up on Thursday, January 26, in New York City, the theme of this conference is Why Investors Are Concentrating on Tech-Enabled Niches in Education.

 

As a friend of MarketDriveEdu,  you qualify for a special VIP rate — $995 ($500 off the standard rate). 

To register at this special rate, please call Sarah Burd at 212-832-7300 ext. 0, or email her at sburd@capitalroundtable.com.

Back in the day, buyouts of for-profit post-secondary school systems were the transactions that put private equity investors on the map in the education sector.

Nowadays, investors have shifted their focus to smaller companies that have carved out niches in the K-12, ed- tech, and continuing education and corporate training sectors — examples are, more sophisticated testing and measurement tools, better data management processes and meeting other specialized educational needs.

 

Our 20 knowledgeable speakers will boost your knowledge of this attractive area through their first-hand experiences and by answering key questions. See speaker list here.

 

Chairing the conference is Tom Formolo, a partner at New Harbor Capital. He formed the firm in 2013 after 23 years at CHS Capital, where he headed the education team.

 

At this conference, you’ll enjoy exceptional networking opportunities. The agenda includes ample time, with session breaks and a buffet lunch, to exchange ideas, swap business cards, and form new relationships.

 

To register, please call Sarah Burd, at 212-832-7300 ext. 0, or email her at sburd@capitalroundtable.com.

 

Please be sure to mention MarketDrivenEdu to receive this low VIP rate. And note this rate is not available online. 

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