This announcement is to remind institutions of their statutory reporting obligation under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act (“Section 117”) (20 U.S.C. § 1011f) and to announce our new system that institutions will use to discharge their statutory obligations. Section 117 requires institutions to disclose to the U.S. Department of Education information about ownership and control by foreign sources, contracts with foreign sources, and gifts from foreign sources. The Department recently developed a new reporting system, available at https://partners.ed.gov/ForeignGifts, through which institutions must submit their Section 117 information.
Which Institutions are Required to Report and When
The statutory reporting obligation of Section 117 applies to any institution, public or private, or, if a multi-campus institution, any single campus of such institution, in any State, that is legally authorized within such State to provide a program of education beyond secondary school, that provides a program for which the institution awards a bachelor’s degree (or provides not less than a two-year program which is acceptable for full credit toward such a degree) or more advanced degrees, and is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association and to which institution Federal financial assistance is extended (directly or indirectly through another entity or person), or which institution receives support from the extension of Federal financial assistance to any of the institution’s subunits.
Institutions that are owned or controlled by a foreign source must file two disclosure reports per year—one no later than January 31 and the other no later than July 31. All other institutions that receive a gift from or enter into a contract with a foreign source, the value of which is $250,000 or more, considered alone or in combination with all other gifts from or contracts with that foreign source within a calendar year, must file a disclosure report no later than January 31 or July 31, whichever is sooner.
What Information Must Be Reported
Please see Appendix A (below) to understand what information must be reported. Additionally, please see Appendix B (also below) for excerpts of certain responses to public comments the Department provided during the course of developing this information collection (see the Sources of Information and Help section of this announcement for a link to the complete responses to public comments).
How the Report is Submitted
As of June 22, 2020, institutions must report Section 117 information using the new reporting system, available at https://partners.ed.gov/ForeignGifts. Institutions should no longer report foreign gifts or contracts on the E-App in question 71. If your institution submitted an E-App prior to June 22, 2020, those gifts or contracts already reported do not need to be re-submitted using the new system.
Failure to Comply
The information collection is subject to 18 U.S.C. § 1001, which provides that whoever knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry, may be subject to fines and imprisonment.
Furthermore, if a school fails to discharge the statutory obligations of Section 117, the Secretary of Education may request the Department of Justice to undertake a civil action in federal district court.
Rescission of Prior Guidance
On October 14, 2004, the Department issued a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), GEN-04-11, available at https://ifap.ed.gov/dear-colleague-letters/10-04-2004-gen-04-11-reporting-foreign-gifts-contracts-and-relationships. In 2004 when the Department issued this DCL, we collected Section 117 reports via the Department’s e-application for schools. As the 2004 DCL stated, institutions should use their e-application to submit their Section 117 reports; the DCL further explained some of the content required to be included in these reports.
As explained in the How the Report is Submitted section above, the Department recently developed a new, electronic reporting system for institutions to use for submitting Section 117 reports. This new electronic system is necessary to ensure: (1) institutions provide Congressionally mandated transparency with respect to covered gifts from and contracts with foreign sources: (2) the public has ready and meaningful access to this information; and (3) the Secretary receives more detailed information about covered gifts or contracts involving a foreign source, or about ownership or control of the institution by a foreign source, to be able to determine whether it appears an institution has failed to comply with the requirements of Section 117.
Consequently, we hereby rescind the prior guidance, GEN-04-11. That guidance became outdated now that there is a new method for institutions to submit Section 117 reports, and given the Department updated the specific questions institutions must answer via the new reporting system.
Sources of Information and Help
As alluded to earlier, Section 117 of the Higher Education Act has been codified at 20 U.S.C. § 1011f. Background information and additional resources related to Section 117 can be found on the Department’s website at https://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/leg/foreign-gifts.html. For technical questions or access issues, contact ForeignGiftsAccess@ed.gov.