Attend the Florida Board of Massage Therapy’s (FBMT)

General Business Meeting on January 26, 2024 at 9:00 AM

The Florida Hotel 1500 Sand Lake Road Orlando, Florida 32809

Why is this meeting and FACTS advocacy important?

Notice Agenda Item III: Discussion- Rule 64B7-32.003 Minimum Requirements for Board Approved Massage Therapy Schools. At its Zoom workshop on January 10, 2024, the FBMT agreed to explore options to increase the minimum hours for Massage Therapy Programs from 500 to 750 hours. That discussion (and maybe vote) will happen at this meeting.

What was the impetus for this?

In December, FACTS President Mez Varol and Director Michael Halmon met with the Executive Director of the Florida Board of Massage Therapy, and others aligned with the Florida Department of Health to discuss the impact that the new “100% Rule”, adopted by the U.S. Department of Education as part of its Gainful Employment (G/E) Rulemaking, would have on private cosmetology and wellness schools in Florida.

The FBMT listened carefully as the FACTS constituents raised awareness that potential massage therapy students in Florida would lose access to Pell Grants and direct loans because the state minimum for massage therapy programs is lower than 600 hours. The FBMT did a quick calculation, based on the number of massage therapy applicants for licensure each year, and concluded that as much as $15 million in federal grants could be lost annually because of the new “100% Rule. The FBMT then held the Zoom workshop, on January 10, 2024, to begin the discussions as to increasing state minimums.

Why is the “150% Rule” now “the 100% Rule”?

Formerly, educational programs that are clock-hour-based, such as massage, have been governed by the 150% Rule. This allowed programs to offer 50% more clock hours than their state’s minimum requirements and remain eligible to offer students federal financial aid. For example, Florida’s state minimum for massage therapy is 500 hours. Under the 150% Rule, a Florida private school could offer a massage therapy program of up to 750 clock hours (50% more than 500) and remain eligible to offer federal financial aid because the program exceeds 600 hours.

Effective July 1, 2024, for a massage program to remain Title IV-eligible, the program length must be equal to state minimum hour requirements. Schools cannot deviate from this number, or the entire program becomes ineligible for Title IV funding. In essence, the new rule amends the 150% Rule to 100%. The 50% “safe haven” is eliminated.

What Will Happen to Clock-Hour Massage Programs?

There is no “grandparenting” clause—all schools offering a massage program across the country with Title IV funding must align their hours to their state minimum hours by July 1, 2024. FACTS estimates that a significant number of massage (and esthetics, too) programs across the state rely on the 150% Rule to offer federal funding – both Pell Grants and Direct Loans. These are the programs at risk of losing this funding as of July 1, 2024, unless the Florida state minimums are increased.