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Emerging Legal Developments in Title IV Administration. Presented to National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators Annual Conference Washington, DC July 8-11, 2007. Presented by Stanley A. Freeman Sherry Mastrostefano Gray Sharon H. Bob, Ph.D. Joel M. Rudnick. Powers

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Emerging Legal Developments in Title IV Administration

Presented to

National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

Annual Conference

Washington, DC

July 8-11, 2007

Presented by

Stanley A. Freeman

Sherry Mastrostefano Gray

Sharon H. Bob, Ph.D.

Joel M. Rudnick

Powers

Pyles

Sutter &

Verville PC

Attorneys At Law

1501 M Street, NW, Seventh Floor, Washington, DC 20005

Phone: (202) 466-6550 Fax: (202) 785-1756 www.ppsv.com


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Washington Merry-Go-Round

Stanley A. Freeman

Powers

Pyles

Sutter &

Verville PC

Attorneys At Law


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Washington Merry-Go-Round

From The Founding Fathers - Three Branches Of The Federal Government:

  • Article I of the Constitution – Legislative

  • Article II – Executive Branch

  • Article III – Judicial Branch


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Washington Merry-Go-Round

Legislative Branch – A “Perfect Storm” Of Bills Affecting Student Aid

  • Student Loan Sunshine Act (H.R. 890, passed House in May)

  • College Cost Reduction Act (House Reconciliation Bill)

  • Higher Education Access Act of 2007 (Senate Reconciliation Bill)

  • Higher Education Amendments of 2007 (Senate HEA Reauthorization Bill)


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Washington Merry-Go-Round

Legislative Branch – “Perfect Storm” Of Bills Affecting Student Aid

  • House Appropriations Bill for FY 2008 (passed House on June 8)

  • Senate Appropriations Bill for FY 2008 (Rpted out of Subcommittee on June 19)

  • Student Aid Reward Act (STAR Act)

  • Pending: Senate Banking Committee to tackle private lending

  • Recurrent: HEA Extension Legislation


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Washington Merry-Go-Round

Sample Topics Covered By The “Perfect Storm” Of Proposed Legislation

  • Accreditation – Possible Re-write of NACIQI

  • Student Outcomes and Accreditation

  • Student Loan Restrictions and Auctions

  • Independent Student Definition

  • Transfer of Credit

  • Due Process in Program Reviews

  • Pell Grants and Loan Limits


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Washington Merry-Go-Round

Executive Branch – Agency Initiatives Complicate The Outlook

  • Negotiated Rulemaking Hits Rough Seas:

    • Accreditation – Secretary Agrees to Cease and Desist

    • Lending Rules – Too Little Too Late?

  • Federal Trade Commission

    • Chairman’s Recent Letter to George Miller: “Law enforcement will be a critical part of the FTC’s response to concerns about private student loans.”


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Washington Merry-Go-Round

Executive Branch – Agency Initiatives

  • Education Department Initiates Campus Security Program Reviews on Clery Act

  • Watchdog Group – “Security on Campus” –Steps Up Private Enforcement Efforts

  • Furor Over Recent Case in Wake of ED Report:

    • Report: School defied Clery timely warning requirements for ten weeks after rape/murder in dorm was discovered

    • Potential Sanctions: Fines/Title IV Restrictions


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Washington Merry-Go-Round

Judicial Branch: Case Law Takes Sharp Turn Towards Expansion of Whistleblower Claims

  • Appeals Courts Reinstate False Claims Act Allegations Premised on Title IV Violations

  • One Case Even Focuses Upon Accreditation

  • College Lawyers Cite Growing Threat of Whistleblower Claims on Multiple Fronts

  • Qui Tam Cases: Filed, But “Under Seal” and Not Made Known to the Institution!


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School – Lender Relationships: New and Proposed Rules

Sherry Mastrostefano Gray

Powers

Pyles

Sutter &

Verville PC

Attorneys At Law


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Prohibited Inducements (34 CFR 682.200)

  • Lender cannot offer, directly or indirectly, points, premiums, payments, or other inducements to secure FFEL loans.


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Prohibited Inducements (Non-Exhaustive List Per ED)

34 CFR 682.200

  • No payments or other benefits to a prospective borrower in exchange for applying for or accepting a FFEL loan from the lender.

  • No payments or other benefits to a school, any school-affiliated organization or to any individual in exchange for FFEL loan applications, application referrals, a specified volume or dollar amount of loans made, or placement on a school’s list of recommended or suggested lenders.


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Prohibited Inducements - Definitions

  • The term “other benefits” includes, but is not limited to:

    • preferential rates for or access to the lender's other financial products,

    • computer hardware or unrelated computer software at below market rental or purchase cost, and

    • printing and distribution of college catalogs and other materials at reduced or no cost.

  • A school-affiliated organization is:

    • any organization that is directly or indirectly related to a school and includes, but is not limited to, alumni organizations, foundations, athletic organizations, and social, academic, and professional organizations


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Prohibited Inducements

  • No payment of conference or training registration, transportation, and lodging costs for an employee of a school or school-affiliated organization (but see exception).


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Prohibited Inducements

  • No payment of entertainment expenses. Includes private hospitality suites, tickets to shows or sporting events, meals, alcoholic beverages, and any lodging, rental, transportation, and other gratuities related to lender-sponsored activities for employees of a school or a school-affiliated organization (but see exception).

  • No philanthropic activities if provided in exchange for FFEL loan applications or application referrals, or a specified volume or dollar amount of FFEL loans made, or placement on a school’s list of recommended or suggested lenders.


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Prohibited Inducements

  • No staffing services to a school as a third-party servicer or otherwise on more than a short-term, emergency, non-recurring basis to assist a school with financial aid-related functions.

  • No conducting unsolicited mailings to a student or a student's parents of FFEL loan application forms.

  • No engaging in fraudulent or misleading advertising with respect to its FFEL loan activities.


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Permitted Activities (Exhaustive List)

A lender may provide:

  • Assistance to a school that is comparable to the kinds of assistance provided to a school by the Secretary under the Direct Loan program, as identified by the Secretary in a public announcement, such as a notice in the Federal Register.

    • Most recently published in August 1999

    • Issue of LCD – will direct loan schools demand the type of services that FFEL lenders can and would provide?


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Permitted Activities

  • Support of and participation in a school’s or a guaranty agency’s student aid and financial literacy- related outreach activities, provided that lender name is disclosed and lender does not promote its student loan or other products.


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Permitted Activities

  • Meals, refreshments, and receptions that are reasonable in cost and scheduled in conjunction with training, meeting, or conference events if those meals, refreshments, or receptions are open to all training, meeting, or conference attendees; (Exception to prohibition regarding entertainment expenses.)


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Permitted Activities

  • Toll-free telephone numbers for use by schools or others to obtain information about FFEL loans and free data transmission service for use by schools to electronically submit applicant loan processing information or student status confirmation data.

  • Reduced origination fees in accordance with §682.202(c) and reduced interest rates as provided under the HEA, and payment of federal default fees.


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Permitted Activities

  • Other benefits to a borrower under a repayment incentive program that requires at least one or more scheduled payments to receive or retain the benefit; and

  • Items of nominal value to schools, school-affiliated organizations, and borrowers that are offered as a form of generalized marketing or advertising, or to create good will.


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Additional Permitted Activities – Guaranty Agencies (34 CFR 682.401)

  • Meals and refreshments that are reasonable in cost and provided in connection with guaranty agency provided training of program participants and elementary, secondary, and postsecondary school personnel and with workshops and forums customarily used by the agency to fulfill its responsibilities under the Act;


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Additional Permitted Activities – Guaranty Agencies CFR 682.401)

  • Travel and lodging costs that are reasonable as to cost, location, and duration to:

    • facilitate the attendance of school staff in training or service facility tours that they would otherwise not be able to undertake, or

    • participate in the activities of an agency's governing board, a standing official advisory committee, or in support of other official activities of the agency;

  • Default aversion activities approved by the Secretary under section 422(h)(4)(B) of the Act:


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Preferred Lender List (34 CFR 682.212) CFR 682.401)

What is it?

Any recommendation or suggestion of lenders (in print or any other medium or form) for use by the school’s students or their parents.


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Preferred Lender List CFR 682.401)

Guidelines:

  • Cannot be used to deny or otherwise impede a borrower’s choice of lender;

    • Impede means to purposefully delay (see unnecessary certification delays standard).

  • Cannot contain fewer than three lenders that are not affiliated with each other and that will make loans to borrowers or students attending the school; and

  • Cannot include lenders that have offered, or have been solicited by the school to offer inducements


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Preferred Lender Lists CFR 682.401)

  • A school that provides or makes available a list of recommended or suggested lenders must:

    • Disclose as part of the list, the method and criteria used by the school in selecting any lender that it recommends or suggests;

    • Provide comparative information to prospective borrowers about interest rates and other benefits offered by the lenders;


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Preferred Lender Lists CFR 682.401)

  • Ensure that any benefits offered to borrowers by the lenders are the same for all borrowers at the school;

  • Advise students through a prominent statement that they are not required to use one of the school’s recommended or suggested lenders;

  • Cannot not assign a first-time borrower’s loan to a particular lender; and

  • Cannot cause unnecessary certification delays for borrowers who use a lender that has not been recommended or suggested by the school. (See also pattern or practice language under 34 CFR 682.603(f).)


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Enforcement - NPRM CFR 682.401)

  • Temporary or permanent exclusion from programs as eligible lender. (34 CFR 682.705 and .706)

    • Rebuttable presumption – to rebut, but provide evidence that the activities or payments were provided for a reason unrelated to the securing of FFEL applications.

  • A guaranty agency may not make a claim to ED regarding a loan if the lender offered or provided an improper inducement. (34 CFR 682.406)

  • Lender subject to claims borrower may have against school if, minimally, the school refers borrowers to that lender or an inducement was provided. (34 CFR 682.209)


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New York SLATE CFR 682.401)

  • Prohibitions cover:

    • All institutional employees

    • All educational loans (Federal and private)

    • Guarantee Agencies

    • Lenders and affiliates that make loans


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New York SLATE CFR 682.401)

  • No revenue sharing is permitted between lenders and schools.

  • Schools must implement a code of conduct prohibiting lender gifts to employees.

  • Effectively, financial aid employees cannot serve on lender advisory boards with respect to any form of student loans.

  • FA employees will need to report to NYSED all participation or financial interests they have related to any lender.

  • Schools must inform students of availability of Title IV loans, including terms and conditions, before a lender can offer a private loan.


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New York SLATE CFR 682.401)

  • A lender and school cannot enter into an agreement under which the lender makes high risk (opportunity) loans to students in exchange for the school providing concessions or promises to the lender that may prejudice other borrowers.


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New York SLATE CFR 682.401)

  • Preferred lender lists are allowed.

    • school must explain method and criteria for selection and rank criteria

    • must state (in same font size) that student can use another lender without penalty

    • inclusion and placement of lenders on the preferred lender list must be based solely on the best interests of the borrowers

    • school must review list(s) at least annually

    • school must seek assurances that advertised benefits upon repayment will continue upon sale of loan(s)

    • sale of loans shall be disclosed (same font)


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New York SLATE CFR 682.401)

  • Penalties

    • lender can be fined up to $50,000

    • school employees can be fined up to $7,500

    • if lender violates this law, the lender cannot be placed on any preferred lender list unless notice of such violation is provided to all potential borrowers at the institution

  • NY defines "lender" to include guarantee agencies and any trade or professional association that receives money from a lender or guaranty agency for educational loan purposes.


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Senate HEA Bill - Proposed CFR 682.401)

  • Bottom Line – substantially scales back original proposals; mixture of NPRM and SLATE

  • Addresses School/Lender relationships with respect to FFEL loans only.

    • Possible involvement of Banking Committee, FTC

  • May require changes to Final Rules issued by ED.


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Senate HEA Bill - Proposed CFR 682.401)

  • Specifically addresses:

    • Issues identified in NPRM

    • Consulting arrangements (prohibited for FA employees or those school responsible for student loan decisions)

    • Compensation for service on advisory boards (prohibited – but reimbursement for expenses allowed)


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Senate HEA Bill - Proposed CFR 682.401)

  • Would require code of conduct to

    • Prohibit revenue sharing

    • Prohibit gifts and trips except allows reasonable expenses for professional development that will improve programs and for domestic travel to such development

    • Prohibit consulting arrangements

    • Prohibit payment for service on advisory board except for reimbursement of reasonable expenses.

  • Would require annual attestation of compliance by executive officer.


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Senate HEA Bill - Proposed CFR 682.401)

  • Preferred lender lists

    • Disclosure by school of why lenders are included on list

    • Student choice

    • At least 3 unaffiliated lenders (Secretary to maintain list of lenders)

    • Factors considered for inclusion can include loan terms, high-quality customer service, additional benefits (obviously, not prohibited benefits).


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Senate HEA Bill - Proposed CFR 682.401)

  • Enforcement – per program participation agreement, violation can result in institution’s limitation, suspension or termination from loan programs.



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Title IV Hardball With PPSV CFR 682.401)

Issue 1:Preferred Lender Lists


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Title IV Hardball With PPSV CFR 682.401)

Issue 2:Revenue Sharing


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Title IV Hardball With PPSV CFR 682.401)

Issue 3:NASFAA/Cuomo Apology and Code of Conduct


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Title IV Hardball With PPSV CFR 682.401)

Issue 4:Direct Lending vs. FFELP


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Title IV Hardball With PPSV CFR 682.401)

Issue 5: Lender Auctions


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Title IV Hardball With PPSV CFR 682.401)

Issue 6: Transfer of Credit


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Title IV Hardball With PPSV CFR 682.401)

Issue 7: Campus Security


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Title IV Hardball With PPSV CFR 682.401)The End!


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Top Ten Negotiated CFR 682.401)Rulemaking Issues

Sharon H. Bob, Ph.D.

Powers

Pyles

Sutter &

Verville PC

Attorneys At Law


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ED Conducts Negotiated Rulemaking CFR 682.401)

  • On August 18, 2006, the Department of Education announced in the Federal Register its intent to establish up to four negotiated rulemaking committees to prepare regulations under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The notice also announced a series of four regional hearings where interested parties could suggest issues for consideration.


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ED Conducts Negotiated Rulemaking CFR 682.401)

  • The Department held four field hearings on September 19, 2006, October 5, 2006, November 2, 2006, and November 8, 2006. Witnesses articulated a number of overarching themes at the hearings including:

    • the need to revisit a number of unworkable rules governing the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant) programs;

    • the value of the current accreditation process particularly as it relates to improving student outcomes; and

    • the need to address the rising levels of student debt through increased student aid and improved repayment options.


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ED Conducts Negotiated Rulemaking CFR 682.401)

  • As a result of the comments and recommendations, on December 8, 2006, the Department of Education announced in the Federal Register the establishment of four negotiated rulemaking committees to:

    • develop rules for the federal student loan programs (including the FFEL, Direct Loan, and Perkins Loan Programs);

    • address issues related the ACG and the National SMART Grant Programs;

    • address accreditation issues; and

    • address issues related to other Title IV programmatic, institutional eligibility and general provisions issues.


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Results of Negotiated Rulemaking Sessions CFR 682.401)

  • Loan Issues Go Forward Despite Non-Consensus

  • Consensus Reached on General Provisions Issues

  • ACG/National SMART Grant Issues Go Forward Despite Non-Consensus

  • Accreditation Rules Withdrawn


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TOP 10 NEG REG ISSUES CFR 682.401)


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Loan Issues CFR 682.401)1. Crime of Identity Theft

  • There are no proposed regulations for the crime of identity theft because of provisions in current regulations under Loan Discharge for False Certification as a Result of Identity Theft (§§ 682.402 and 685.215).

  • “Crime of Identity Theft” means that an identity theft victim must wait for a formal judicial determination that an identity theft crime has been committed before granting a loan discharge.


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Loan Issues CFR 682.401)2. Record Retention Requirements on MPN’s Assigned to ED

  • Institutions would be required to retain Perkins Loan Program records showing the date and amount of each disbursement of each loan under an Master Promissory Note (MPN) until the loan is cancelled, repaid, or otherwise satisfied.

  • An institution would have to submit disbursement records on an assigned Perkins Loan upon the Secretary’s request.

  • Guaranty agencies would have to submit the record of the lender’s disbursement of loan funds to the school for delivery to the borrower when assigning a FFEL Loan to the Department.


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Loan Issues CFR 682.401)3. Perkins Loans: Reasonable Collection Costs

  • The Department provided proposed regulations that would limit the collection costs that an institution may assess a Perkins Loan borrower to 30 percent of the unpaid principal and accrued interest for first collection efforts, 40 percent for second collection efforts, and 40 percent plus court costs in cases of litigation.


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Loan Issues CFR 682.401)4. Mandatory Assignment of Defaulted Perkins Loans

  • The Department provided proposed regulations that would require mandatory assignment “at the Secretary of Education’s discretion” of any defaulted Perkins Loan to the Department if:

    • The amount of the loan is $50 or more;

    • The loan has been in default for more than five years; and

    • No payment has been received on the loan within the previous year.

  • Exception: If payments were not due on the loan in the preceding 12 months because the loan was in an authorized deferment or forbearance period.


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    General Provisions CFR 682.401)5. Nonterm Clock-Hour Programs Disbursement Requirements

    • Students enrolled in clock-hour, nonterm programs would have to “successfully” complete half of the clock hours in addition to half of the weeks in the payment period before another disbursement can be made.


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    General Provisions CFR 682.401)6. Determining Loan Eligibility for Nonstandard Term Programs

    • The Department provided proposed regulations that would permit students enrolled in nonstandard term programs that are substantially equal in length and are each at least nine (9) weeks long (Per ED, lowering the nine (9) week time period would have cost implications) to become eligible for a new annual loan limit when the academic year calendar time has elapsed, which is permitted for standard term programs.


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    ACG/National SMART Grants CFR 682.401)7. Eligibility of Certificate Programs for ACG

    • Current interpretations by ED would not permit eligibility of certificate programs for ACG.


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    ACG/National SMART Grants CFR 682.401)8. Academic Year Progression Measured in Weeks

    • Academic Year Progression is measured in credits earned and weeks of instructional time.


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    Accreditation CFR 682.401)9. Requirements to Measure Institutional Success

    • An accrediting agency’s standards would have to address success with respect to student achievement in relation to the institution’s mission, which must include:

      • Expected levels of performance for vocational programs and programs leading to professional licensure or certification, including

        • Completion rates;

        • Job placement rates; and

        • As applicable, pass rates.


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    Accreditation CFR 682.401)Requirements to Measure Institutional Success, cont’d…

    • Criteria may permit institutions to establish their own expected levels of performance and agency review of the appropriateness of the expected levels of performance.

    • Criteria may include different standards for different types of institutions or programs.


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    Accreditation CFR 682.401)10. Transfer of Credit and Acceptance of Credentials

    • The Department provided proposed regulations that would specify that an agency’s standards related to admissions and recruiting practices must address transfer of credit and acceptance of credentials by requiring that decisions about the acceptance of credits and credentials cannot be made solely on the basis of the accreditation of the sending institution or program, provided that the institution or program is accredited by a recognized agency.

    • Institutions would be required to inform prospective students of their policy.


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    Program Reviews, Audits & Investigations: Breaking Issues & Solutions for Resolution

    Joel M. Rudnick

    Powers

    Pyles

    Sutter &

    Verville PC

    Attorneys At Law


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    Potential Consequences of Noncompliance in Financial Aid Solutions for Resolution

    • Program review or audit findings leading to disallowances and liabilities.

    • Enforcement Actions -- fines, limitations, termination, suspension.

    • Reimbursement or Cash Monitoring

    • Letters of Credit

    • Growth Restrictions (changes in ownership, audit findings)

    • School And Program Closures, Teach Outs, Loan Discharges, Class Action and Qui Tam Lawsuits.


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    Sources of Enforcement – ED and Beyond Solutions for Resolution

    • Program Reviews (Onsite and Desk Reviews)

    • OIG Audits and Investigations

    • Substantive Change Reviews

    • Qui Tam Lawsuits & Federal Court Litigation

    • Student Lending: State AGs, ED and Congressional Inquiries, FTC

    • Accreditation: Outcomes (Completion & Placement)


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    ED Program Review Activity Solutions for Resolution

    ED Program Reviews Completed in FY 2004 – 2006

    • 634 Program Review Completed

      • FY 2006: 190

      • FY 2005: 219

      • FY 2004: 225

    • Breakdown of FY 2004-2006 Reviews By School Type

      • Public: 133

      • Proprietary: 367

      • Private Nonprofit: 132

      • Foreign: 2


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    ED Program Review Activity Solutions for Resolution

    ED Program Reviews Completed in FY 2004-2006


    Ed program review activity70 l.jpg
    ED Program Review Activity Solutions for Resolution


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    Ranked by Frequency Solutions for Resolution

    Excess cash balances

    Late Returns of Title IV funds

    Verification violations

    Incorrect Return calculations

    Inconsistent information in student file

    Entrance/exit counseling deficiencies

    Campus Crime requirements not met

    Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards not mentioned

    Avoiding Program Review and Audit Liabilities

    Top Findings in Program Reviews and Audits


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    Ranked by Dollars Solutions for Resolution

    Ability to Benefit violations

    Falsification of records

    Inconsistent information in student file

    Excess cash balances – Direct Loans

    FISAP expenditures incorrect

    Ineligible Pell disbursements

    Lack of Administrative Capability

    Refunds not made to Title IV accounts

    Admissions policy not followed

    Verification not documented

    Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards not mentioned

    Avoiding Program Review and Audit Liabilities

    Top Findings in Program Reviews and Audits


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    ED and OIG Enforcement Activity Solutions for Resolution

    • Recent Decisions from Administrative Judges in Program Review and Audit Appeals

      • R2T4 and Application of Dear Colleague Letter

    • Recent Decisions from the Secretary in Program Review & Audit Appeals

      • Ineligible Locations and Disallowances

      • Professional Judgment

    • Recent OIG Audit Activity

      • Increase in FY07 Final Audit Reports


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    Audit Review Process – Factors That Trigger Audits, Investigations and Program Reviews

    HEA Factors for Prioritizing Program Reviews

    1. Institutions with CDRs in excess of 25% or in highest 25th percentile

    2. Institutions with a default rate in dollar volume for loans in highest 25th percentile

    3. Institutions with significant fluctuation in FFEL, Direct Loan, or Pell volume

    4. Institutions reported to have deficiencies or financial aid problems by state licensing or accrediting agencies

    5. Institutions with high annual dropout rates

    6. Catch-all: Institutions deemed to pose a significant risk of failure to comply with administrative capability or financial responsibility provisions


    Audit review process steps for preempting and containing audit and program review findings l.jpg
    Audit Review Process – Steps For Preempting and Containing Audit and Program Review Findings

    • Information Flow During and Immediately After the Audit & Visit – Detecting and Correcting Factual Misunderstandings

    • Preempting File Review Requirements: The 10 Percent Standard

    • Opportunities Under The HEA To Correct or Cure Administrative, Accounting or Recordkeeping Errors

      • if the error is not part of a pattern of error

      • if there is no evidence of fraud or misconduct relating to the error


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    Audit Review Process – Steps For Preempting and Containing Audit and Program Review Findings

    Resolution of Audits, Reviews & Investigations

    • Case Management Team

    • Policy and PIP

    • Office of General Counsel

    • Senior ED Officials

    • Administrative Judges

    • State & Accrediting Agencies


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    Other Sources of Enforcement – Qui Tam Lawsuits and Student Lending Investigations

    • Qui Tam Lawsuits

    • Student Lending Investigations

      • New York AG Investigation Into Preferred Lenders Lists and Lender-School Relationships

      • Old & New Enforcers

        • ED

        • OIG

        • Congress

        • Other State AG Offices

      • State Legislatures

        • Federal Trade Commission

    • What These Developments Mean for Title IV Participating Institutions & The Enforcement Process


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    Preventive Care Student Lending Investigations

    • Internal Controls & Corrective Action Plans

    • Operational Procedures to Ensure Compliant and Ethical Financial Aid Practices

    • Hiring, Training and Maintaining An Ethical Compliance Team

    • Monitoring Changes in Law and Guidance

    • Anticipating and Preventing Employee and Student Fraud


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    Preventive Care (cont’d) Student Lending Investigations

    • Risk Identification

    • Internal/External Reviews and Assessments

    • Helplines/Hotlines

    • Active Review of Complaints

    • The Role of In-House and Third-Party Experts


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    Stanley A. Freeman Student Lending Investigations

    Powers

    Pyles

    Sutter &

    Verville PC

    Attorneys At Law

    Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, P.C.

    1501 M Street, NW, 7th Floor

    Washington, DC 20005

    Ph. 202-872-6757

    Fax. 202-785-1756

    E-mail: [email protected]

    Stanley A. Freeman joined Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, P.C. in 1994. Mr. Freeman is a principal and shareholder and founder of the firm's education practice. Mr. Freeman frequently counsels postsecondary educational institutions from all sectors of higher education regarding strategic issues pertaining to participation in the federal student financial assistance programs, accreditation, licensure, and related regulatory concerns.

    Mr. Freeman has been actively involved in representing educational institutions for twenty years. In his practice, he counsels individual educational institutions, corporate investors in higher education, associations of schools and colleges, accrediting agencies, guaranty agencies, and allied educational companies on administrative, transactional, regulatory and litigation matters. He has represented numerous schools in proceedings before the U.S. Department of Education, the accrediting commissions, and guaranty agencies. He has also litigated cases in the state and federal courts. Stan spends much of his time advising clients concerning regulatory and compliance matters arising under the Higher Education Act of 1965.

    Mr. Freeman graduated with distinction from the Honors College of the University of Michigan in 1978 and received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1982. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.


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    Sherry Mastrostefano Gray Student Lending Investigations

    Powers

    Pyles

    Sutter &

    Verville PC

    Attorneys At Law

    Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, P.C.

    1501 M Street, NW, 7th Floor

    Washington, DC 20005

    Ph. 202-872-6778

    Fax. 202-785-1756

    E-mail: [email protected]

    Sherry Mastrostefano Gray is a principal and a member of the Education Group at Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, P.C.  She represents colleges, universities and postsecondary education companies.  Ms. Gray regularly advises clients regarding federal regulatory, state and accrediting agency requirements applicable to postsecondary institutions, including approval requirements, federal student financial aid compliance issues, growth plans, mergers and acquisitions, student loan programs, and non student aid federal grant standards.  Ms. Gray assists institutions in the resolution of government and independent audits, investigations and other actions alleging failure to comply with regulatory requirements or accrediting agency standards.  Ms. Gray graduated with honors from Boston University in 1986 and received her law degree, with honors, from George Washington University Law School in 1990.  Prior to joining private practice, she served as law clerk in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia.  Ms. Gray is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys.


    Sharon h bob ph d l.jpg
    Sharon H. Bob, Ph.D. Student Lending Investigations

    Powers

    Pyles

    Sutter &

    Verville PC

    Attorneys At Law

    Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, P.C.

    1501 M Street, NW, 7th Floor

    Washington, DC 20005

    Ph. 202-466-6550

    Fax. 202-785-1756

    E-mail: [email protected]

    Sharon H. Bob, Ph.D., Higher Education Specialist on Policy and Regulation, is a member of the Education Group at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, P.C. Dr. Bob advises all sectors of higher education regarding strategic issues pertaining to their participation in the federal student financial assistance programs, accreditation, licensure, education tax benefits, and related regulatory matters.

    Dr. Bob advises public and private colleges and universities, as well as private and publicly-traded companies. In this role, she provides clients with detailed technical guidance related to compliance with applicable statute and regulations. She regularly assists postsecondary educational institutions on issues relating to institutional eligibility, program eligibility, student eligibility, financial responsibility and administrative capability standards, changes of ownership, adding locations and programs, program reviews and compliance audits, and institutional responsibilities for the education tax benefits. Through training seminars and on-site reviews, she assists clients in complying with the federal requirements for administering federal student financial assistance. Dr. Bob has authored numerous articles on federal financial aid issues for The Greentree Gazette, NASFAA’s Journal of Student Financial Aid, NASFAA’s Student Aid Transcript, the Career College Link, and other higher education publications and frequently speaks at meetings of college officials and student aid administrators.

    Dr. Bob received her undergraduate degree summa cum laude from the State University of New York at Buffalo and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her doctorate from the University of Maryland.


    Joel m rudnick l.jpg
    Joel M. Rudnick Student Lending Investigations

    Powers

    Pyles

    Sutter &

    Verville PC

    Attorneys At Law

    Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, P.C.

    1501 M Street, NW, 7th Floor

    Washington, DC 20005

    Ph. 202-872-6763

    Fax. 202-785-1756

    E-mail: [email protected]

    Joel Rudnick is a principal in the firm’s education practice and has specialized in representing public and private colleges and schools, investors, and lenders on compliance, litigation and transactional matters for 16 years.

    Joel advises clients on compliance issues arising out of all aspects of the federal, state, and accrediting body regulation of public and private postsecondary educational institutions with a primary focus on matters related to the federal student aid programs authorized by the Higher Education Act of 1965. He regularly assists clients with strategic planning and targeted advice on issues relating to institutional eligibility, the 90/10 rule, financial responsibility, changes in ownership, the incentive compensation rule, student lending rules, distance learning, return of funds, institutional changes such as new campuses and educational programs, student eligibility rules, verification, compliance audits, and the vast array of technical rules and guidance governing the disbursement of federal student financial assistance. He also speaks and writes frequently on breaking regulatory issues affecting the financial aid community, including CCA, NASFAA, and state and regional conferences and seminars.

    Joel has extensive experience representing postsecondary educational institutions in proceedings before the United States Department of Education. He has litigated numerous client appeals of final audit and program review determinations and adverse actions before the Department, as well as seeking and obtaining settlements of such matters. He has also represented clients in federal court and in show cause proceedings before accrediting bodies and state licensing agencies. He has provided regulatory counsel on over 75 program reviews, audits, and investigations on Title IV matters.

    Joel also counsels schools and investors on regulatory and transactional matters unique to the acquisition of postsecondary educational institutions. He has advised on over 50 transactions in the postsecondary market, including initial and secondary public offerings, going private transactions, non-profit to for-profit conversions, mergers and recapitalizations. He advises clients on the transactional impact of applicable federal, state, and accrediting body rules, including structuring and regulatory approvals. He also conducts and consults on due diligence inquiries and investigations.

    Joel graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1991. He lives in the Washington area with his wife Patty and their son and daughter.


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