Webinar: Compliance and Best Practices for Catalogs, Publications and Student-Facing Materials

Duane Morris is hosting Compliance and Best Practices for Catalogs, Publications and Student-Facing Materials, the second session in its Boot Camp for Education Legal Leadership series. The webinar takes place  Wednesday, February 28, 2024, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern | 11:00 a.m. Pacific.


About the Program

The start of the year is an excellent time for institutions to review their policies and establish a review cycle for all of their student-facing publications. In this session, Duane Morris Education attorneys will discuss strategies and best practices for institutions conducting policy, catalog and handbook reviews for the 2023-24 academic year with a focus on the value these materials have in mitigating institutional risk in the current active regulatory climate.

Webinar: The Regulatory Landscape ‒ A Dynamic and Disruptive 12 Month

Duane Morris will present Boot Camp for Education Legal Leadership, Session 1: The Regulatory Landscape ‒ A Dynamic and Disruptive 12 Months, on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time/11:00 a.m. Pacific time.

The past 12 months have been one of the most active in recent memory for the U.S. Department of Education in publishing new regulations and issuing new policy guidance in the area of Title IV, Higher Education Act compliance. Join the Education Industry Group at Duane Morris for review and analysis of these developments and how they impact your institution, both now and in the near future.


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Webinar: Understanding Borrower Defense to Repayment Claims

Duane Morris is hosting the webinar Understanding Borrower Defense to Repayment Claims on Thursday, October 5, 2023, from 2:00 pm to 3:00 p.m. Eastern.


About the Program

Institutions of higher education – public, nonprofit and proprietary – have reached out to Duane Morris’ Education Group with questions and concerns regarding Borrower Defense to Repayment claims. Join us for recommendations on how to handle these inquiries, insights on best practices and what to expect in terms of next steps.

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Student Arbitration Agreements

By Edward Cramp and Jessica S. High

July 1 is quickly approaching for institutions that require students to sign pre-dispute arbitration agreements.  The new Borrower Defense to Repayment (BDR) regulation goes into effect on July 1. Among other things, it prohibits Title IV institutions from requiring students to sign mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements covering BDR claims.

Institutions can continue to use arbitration agreements for non-BDR claims. Institutions should review current arbitration agreements to ensure they comply with the new regulation.  Additionally, institutions must provide notice (with prescribed language) to students who previously signed a pre-dispute arbitration agreement that does not comply with the new regulations. The notice must be provided no later than exit counseling or the date on which the school files its initial response to a demand for arbitration or service of a complaint, whichever is earlier.

Compliant arbitration agreements and notices must be implemented by July 1. Some arbitration administrators, such as the American Arbitration Association, required consumer arbitration agreements to be registered with the agency.  Such administrators may decline to administer an arbitration if the college or business does not comply with the registration requirement. Institutions should review their arbitration administrator’s rules to see if this is required.

Finally, litigation is pending in the case of CCST v. Cardoza, which may impact whether the new BDR regulation goes into effect as scheduled.  Institutions should be on the watch for updates in the event that the court issues a ruling that impacts the implementation of the new rule.

If you have any questions about this blog post, please contact Edward Cramp, Jessica High, any of the attorneys in our Higher Education Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

U.S. Department of Education Updates Third Party Servicer Guidance

On May 16, 2023, the United States Department of Education (the “Department”) updated its Third Party Servicer Guidance issued in GEN-23-03.  The new Dear Colleague Letter (“DCL”) officially delays indefinitely the previously issued guidance.  It also removes the prohibition on contracts between institutions of higher education and foreign owned or operated third party servicers.

This DCL replaces the prior update posted in a blog by Undersecretary Kvaal, in which he commented that the department was effectively delaying the prior DCL.  This formalizes that announcement.

The DCL indicates that institutions will be provided with at least six (6) months advance notice before the effective date of any future formal guidance.  The deadlines for audit and contractual requirements in any new guidance will be delayed until the institution’s first fiscal year beginning after the effective date for the reporting requirements.  We read this to mean that institutions and Third Party Servicers will not be required to retroactively implement the new guidance.

Finally, the Department also clarified that institutions may contract with foreign owned Third Party Servicers.  It rescinded earlier guidance on this issue.  The Department did note, however, that this issue may be subject to rulemaking in the future.

Institutions and potential Third Party Servicers should continue to evaluate how they may be impacted by new regulation or guidance in this area.  It is clear that the Department is intent on increasing its oversight of Third Party Servicers by expanding the scope of services that fall into the Third Party Servicer bucket in the Higher Education Act.  In addition, the Department has identified Third-Party Servicers and Related Issues for rulemaking in the fall of 2023. Concerned parties should continue to monitor developments from the Department as they arise over the next several months.

Why You Should Require Students to Get Vaccinated as COVID Retreats

We have entered a new phase in the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

We no longer wake up every day to increasing numbers of deaths, infections, and reminders about social distancing and vaccine shortages. Instead, we now read about record low numbers of infections, limited fatalities, and a domestic surplus of vaccine so large that we are now vaccinating children as young as 12 and may be exporting it by June.

And, just last week, the CDC dispensed with mask guidance for vaccinated people. This prompted President Biden to host his first “maskless” appearance of his presidency. For college leaders planning the summer and fall semesters, it’s a 180-degree turnaround that we were afraid to hope for just last year.

Yet here we are. The question now vexing colleges is how to safely reopen on-ground learning with a pandemic in retreat. It’s a nice problem to have, but it still has to be solved.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris partner Edward M. Cramp, please visit the University Business website.

COVID-19 Can Change Everything—If We Let It

According to Dave Clayton, senior vice president of consumer insights at Strada Education Network, hybrid education “was a consistently popular option” throughout a recent survey taken by his organization. It beat out both online and in-person when it came to which option Americans were likely to recommend, as well as which option offered the best preparation for joining the workforce.

Will this change higher education? Of course it will. The market to find students gets more competitive for colleges every year. That trend is predicted to continue long into the future. If today’s junior high schoolers already know that they want “both,” this shift in consumer demand won’t go unnoticed. If college leadership wants the freshman class of 2026 to enroll in their institution, they would be foolish not to adapt.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris partner Edward M. Cramp, please visit the University Business website.

Colleges Fear COVID-19 Spread, Class Actions Over Tuition When Welcoming Back Students

Colleges and universities across the country are beginning to figure out what the fall semester for students will look like. In-house counsel at the schools that have chosen to bring students back to campus full-time need to worry about furthering the spread of the new coronavirus and class action litigation over refunds for tuition, housing and service fees.

It is too early to tell how courts will rule on these kinds of lawsuits, Ed Cramp, a partner at Duane Morris in San Diego said. From his perspective, how education is delivered to a student is not something guaranteed by the university. However, the suits asking for a refund of fees for services not used could be problematic.

“The issue for the institutions is that many of them just don’t have the money. It is not a matter of, ‘Let me just write you a check,’” Cramp said.

To read the full text of this article in Corporate Counsel magazine quoting Duane Morris partner Ed Cramp, please visit law.com (subscription required).

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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