Higher education institutions that dispute their debt-to-earnings rates as calculated by the U.S. Department of Education must submit any alternate earnings appeals no later than Thursday, February 1, 2018.

In its Gainful Employment Electronic Announcement #95 - Debt-to-Earnings Rate Alternate Earnings Appeals, the Department of Education has specified that an institution’s appeal submission should include the following two components:

  1. An examination-level attestation engagement report from an independent accountant or auditor certifying that the institution’s own survey was conducted in accordance with the Department’s survey standards.
  2. A signed “CEO Certification” by the institution’s president or chief executive officer attesting that (a) the survey was conducted in accordance with the Department’s survey standards and (b) that the mean or median earnings used to recalculate the program’s debt-to-earnings rate were accurately determined from the survey results.

Each completed appeal package must be emailed to “AltEarningsAppeals@ed.gov” with the subject line “Alternate Earnings Appeal” and must include three sets of the aforementioned required documentation as attachments to the email. Emails should be sent from an official school email address (for example, jane@school.edu), and the attached CEO Certification should be made on school letterhead.

In an effort to assist institutions that may be filing an appeal, we have generated a sample email to transmit the appeal documentation, along with a sample CEO Certification. Note: These are sample documents and are not intended for replication without consultation by legal counsel.

After an institution files, it should be sure to save a copy of the submission, including the transmission email. Institutions should also confirm that their submission email does not “bounce.”

Borrower defense webinar series: As a reminder, we have two more webinars coming up as part of our ongoing “Borrower Defense Rule: Negotiated Rulemaking” series. Aaron Lacey, a partner in our higher education partner, is reporting from the frontlines in his role as a primary negotiator on the DOE’s overhaul of the “borrower defense” rule. Please join us this Wednesday, January 24, and again on February 21.