School’s out for summer, giving many 2017 high school graduates two and a half months of eager anticipation of their first year of higher education. But many foster youth lacking the financial support or resources to make a college degree obtainable won’t get that opportunity. A majority of states are calling on their—public and, sometimes, private—institutions of higher education to help change that. Continue Reading States tag colleges and universities to support foster youth
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy problems consistently make the U.S. Department of Education’s List of Top 10 common—and often expensive—Federal Student Aid program review findings. In short, under-developed SAP policies can lead colleges and universities to award Federal Student Aid funds to ineligible students—funds those schools must ultimately return to the Department. Findings related to SAP can even contribute to ending a school’s Federal Student Aid participation.
But there’s good news! Even if you don’t work in the financial aid office, it’s (fairly) easy to ensure your SAP policy includes required elements. Continue Reading Check SAP policies ASAP! Quick steps to progress and liability prevention
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector released a new guide for independent auditors evaluating Title IV Federal Student Aid compliance by proprietary (for-profit) colleges and universities. The guide places several audit categories under standards more akin to the Federal Student Aid program review process than to traditional independent audits. Could non-profits be next? Continue Reading Department of Education demands intense independent Financial Aid audits
On June 23, 2016, the Supreme Court released its long-awaited opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case that challenged the University’s consideration of race in its undergraduate admissions process. The Court upheld the University’s admissions process, holding that affirmative action remains constitutional within certain limits. Continue Reading Not So Fast: Supreme Court finally rules on affirmative action after second consideration of Fisher v. University of Texas
Colleges and universities are required to make voter registration forms widely available to students.
As a condition of participating in Title IV Federal Student Aid programs, postsecondary institutions must make good-faith efforts to:
- distribute voter registration forms to
- all on-campus students
- enrolled in their degree or certificate programs.
New federal regulations released March 11, 2016, extend the time that foreign national students who graduate in STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) fields may work in the U.S. before seeking employer-sponsored work authorization. The regulations, meant to attract high-demand talent to the U.S., impose additional reporting requirements on colleges and universities seeking to attract foreign students. And employers of these STEM students must implement a formal training plan that identifies learning objectives and a plan for achieving them. Continue Reading New regulations extend work authorization of STEM foreign national students
Some colleges and universities, eager to save their student workers from tax liability and avoid additional payroll charges, may compensate student workers by providing them “scholarships” or “account credits” that directly reduce charges for tuition, books, fees, and room and board. While well-intentioned, these practices may be rooted in a misunderstanding of the federal tax exemption for “qualified scholarships” and risk significant unpaid tax liability for students and penalties for the institution itself. Scholarships paid to students for performing work are generally taxable and may even constitute hidden wages that should be reported on W-2s. Continue Reading Paying student workers with ‘scholarships’ doesn’t usually avoid tax liability
On Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear for a second time Abigail Fisher’s claim that the University of Texas uses race unconstitutionally in its student admissions process. Having sent the initial case back to the 5th Circuit (a de facto “no-decision”), what should we expect when the judges preside over the rematch? Continue Reading Race in admissions: Opening bell for round 2 of Fisher v. University of Texas looms
Reversing its earlier position, the U.S. Department of Education announced on Friday, Nov. 27 that it will no longer ban colleges and universities from compensating recruiters based on students’ graduation from, or completion of, educational programs. At the same time, the Department stood by its existing ban on recruiter compensation tied to enrolling minority students. Continue Reading Department of Education OKs graduation-based incentive comp, prohibits diversity enrollment-based comp
Following up on the VA’s recent audits of flight schools in an effort to reign in abuse of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for what can be very expensive flight training, the VA recently gave the unofficial word that effective Jan. 1, IHLs will not be able to certify private pilot courses that are part of a degree program at an IHL if the IHL contracts with a third party to provide the flight training. Further, effective June 1 the VA will no longer approve any private pilot programs that are not in-house at an IHL, as part of a degree-seeking program (this applies to all types of private pilot training: fixed-wing, rotary, dual engine, etc.). IHLs with flight programs must therefore truly “own” the program, with instructors being faculty who are actually employed by the institution. The IHL can lease equipment, but no part of the training may be conducted by anyone other than the IHL faculty. The VA made it very clear that private pilot training is simply not eligible for education benefits: VA provides flight training benefits for veterans who want to advance their pilot qualifications, and a private pilot’s license is required before the veteran starts the additional flight training. Continue Reading Officially unofficial update on cancellation of VA benefits for private pilot training under contract