ED has clarified that just because a State requires an institution to report the number of clock hours in a program before it approves, it does not necessarily make that program a clock hour one in all cases. The Department indicates that it depends on how the State uses the clock hour information, and specifically whether the State uses the information in a substantive way. The example given denotes that if the State establishes a ratio of clock to credit hours for the purpose of approving the program in the State, or if the school is required to use the clock hour information in calculating a refund under State law, then the clock hour information is being used in a substantive manner. Thus, in such cases, the program would be considered a clock hour program for Title IV purposes.
However, in other cases ED addresses, the number of clock hours a State may require for a program to be authorized in the State will necessitate a program being considered a clock hour program. An example provided stipulates that an automotive repair program that must contain at least 1000 clock hours to be approved by the State is a clock hour program for Title IV purposes. Likewise, if a State licensing board requires a student to complete a specific number of hours to be able to take a licensing exam, the program is considered a clock hour program for Title IV purposes.
The specific regulatory cites for these examples are contained in 34 CFR 668.8(k)(2). The detailed discussion ED provided on this topic about when a program is required to be counted as a clock hour program may be found on its Program and Integrity Questions and Answers page accessible from the IFAP home page. ED recently provided 3 new Q&As on the topic of when a program must be considered a clock hour program for Title IV purposes.