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14 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j a n u a r y/ fe b r u a r y 2 0 24 ABMP PROFESSION UPDATE Massage School Programs at Risk After Amendment of "150%" Rule Despite efforts by Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) to advocate for changes to the US Department of Education's (ED) Gainful Employment rules in June 2023, final rules were released on October 31 that could greatly impact clock-hour programs in states with minimum clock-hour requirements for licensure or certification, including massage therapy. The new rule is flawed and, if not changed, will cause devastating collateral damage to schools, instructors, students, and the public. ABMP explains the new rule below and outlines potential advocacy steps schools may wish to pursue to work for a different result. EXPLANATION OF THE NEW RULE Educational programs that are clock- hour-based, such as massage therapy, have historically had a rule for financial aid called the "150% Rule." This allowed programs to offer more education than their state's minimum requirements and remain eligible to offer students federal financial aid. Essentially, if a state had a minimum-hour requirement for a program, then a school could offer a program that exceeded the minimum hours by up to 50 percent and students would still be eligible for financial aid through Title IV. For example, if a state has a massage therapy minimum requirement of 500 hours, a school in that state could offer a massage program up to 750 hours (150 percent of the minimum) and remain eligible to offer federal financial aid. As of July 1, 2024, for a massage program to remain Title IV-eligible, program length must be exactly what the state requires. Schools cannot deviate from this number, or the entire program becomes ineligible for Title IV funding. In essence, the new rule amends the 150 percent rule to 100 percent. The ED's reasoning for this change is based on the premise of saving the US taxpayer money. The ED believes that when a state arrives at a minimum number of required education hours, the state has made a reasonable judgment about how many hours it takes to be trained and ready to work in a profession. Therefore, in the ED's reasoning, Title IV-financed hours in addition to that foundation result in an unnecessary taxpayer financial burden. ANDREA PIACQUADIO/PEXELS

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