Consumer Information Required by the US Department of Education
Final regulations published in the Federal Register on October 29, 2010, [75 FR 66665 and FR 66832], by the U.S. Department of Education (the Department), require institutions that participate in the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (the HEA), to report certain information about students who enrolled in Title IV-eligible educational programs that lead to gainful employment in a recognized occupation (GE Programs). Those regulations also provide that institutions must disclose to prospective students certain information about their GE Programs. Finally, the new regulations require an institution to notify the U.S. Secretary of Education (the Secretary) if it wishes to add additional GE Programs to its list of Title IV-eligible programs. All of these requirements are effective July 1, 2011.
In order to be eligible for funding under the Title IV programs, an educational program must lead to a degree (associate, bachelor's, graduate, or professional) or prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation." In addition, virtually all programs - degree and nondegree - offered by proprietary institutions must prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation."
The consumer information for each program is posted on the page for that program. It's important to understand that some of the general governmental data such as the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics information is aggragate information and your personal experience may be different depending on where you may choose to work, the hours you work and the type of employment position you seek. Also, much of the data, such as the Net Price Calculators, is based on prior year information and doesn't reflect current pricing.
The information contained in the Consumer Information also uses various compilation methods so there can be variability depending on what information or agency you are looking at in addition to this information. It's also important to remember that different schools report information differently and are interpretting the federal guidelines differently, thereby creating a wide range in how the data is compiled. When you compare the information from different schools it's important to factor in that all schools choose to report their information with variations that may affect the numbers.
In regards to wage and salary information, your best source of information is to talk to people who are working in the industry and have had successful practices or businesses for at least 3 years. Generally these people have a pretty good idea of the compensation for your area of the country or state. The more people you talk to the more you will understand what to expect. It's also good to talk to professionals who graduated from the schools you are considering attending so you wil have a sense of how well the school prepared them for their career.
Be diligent so you will know that you are going to the best school for you. Enjoy the journey.