Several schools have informed the Clearinghouse that they have been contacted by Federal Student Aid (FSA) and instructed to change the Published Program Length that they use to report student enrollment status information.

FSA provides guidance on how schools should capture and report this data in the November 2017 NSLDS Enrollment Reporting Guide, section 4.4.6:

Published program length should be reported based on the definition of “normal time” to completion in the regulations at 34 CFR 668.41(a), as follows:

  • If the school has published, in its catalog, on its website, or in any promotional materials, the length of the program in weeks, months, or years, the program length reported must be the same as the program length that the school has published.

Note: For gainful employment programs, the school must have published the program’s length in weeks, months, or years on the school’s website.

  • If the school has not published a program length and the program is an associate or bachelor’s degree program, the program length to be reported should be two years or four years, respectively, unless the academic design of the program makes it longer or shorter than the typical, 2-year associate degree program or 4-year bachelor’s degree program.
  • For all other programs for which the school has not published a program length, the program length is based on the school’s determination of how long, in weeks, months, or years, the program is designed for a full-time student to complete.
  • Consistent with the guidelines above, schools are free to choose whether to report their program lengths in years, months, or weeks. However, schools should report the same program length and unit of measure for all students in the program,  and should report one program length and unit per student per program.
  • Lastly, schools must report the weeks of instructional time in their Title IV academic year, but only if they report a program length that is measured in months or weeks. This is one of the components of the school’s academic year, as defined in 34 CFR 668.3.

Changing Student Program Lengths

To change a student’s program length, submit the current program with the incorrect/former program length as “Withdrawn” or “Never Attended,” as appropriate, and re-report the program with the new program length value. You can do this in your next scheduled enrollment file submission or, for individual students, through the Online Update option on the Clearinghouse’s secure site.

The Clearinghouse suggests that you use the “Never Attended” (X) status if the program information for the student was previously reported erroneously. If you want to report a change to the student’s program, use the “Withdrawn” (W) status for the student’s prior program. The new program should be reported with the appropriate enrollment status.

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact the Clearinghouse at 703.742.4200 (select options #7, #2) or