Higher Education Opportunities Act

at Saint Francis University

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  • ON AUGUST 14, 2008 President Bush signed the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) into law, setting into motion many changes that will directly affect operations in the financial aid office as well as operations in other offices on campus. The law touches just about every office on campus, including admissions, athletics, bookstore, campus security, career services, disability services, registrar, student activities, veterans’ affairs, and academic areas.

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Accreditation

    Quick Take

    The efforts of the Department of Education to dictate the establishment and measurement of student achievement standards were stopped decisively by the new law, which prohibits the Secretary from regulating student achievement or any other accreditation standards. This was a hard-fought battle and is a significant victory. Other provisions in the law related to accreditation include:

    • A requirement that accreditation standards respect the stated mission of the institution of higher education, including religious missions
    • Several revisions to due-process requirements for accreditation agencies
    • Provisions dealing with distance education, growth monitoring, teach-outs, disclosure of agency actions, and transfer of credit

    In related provisions, the new law also makes substantial changes to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI).

    When Will This Take Effect? 


    The provisions regarding accreditation went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. The Secretary of Education is prohibited from regulating any of the accreditation standards listed in Section 496(a)(5). All of the other accreditation provisions are subject to negotiated rulemaking.

    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    Offices involved with accreditation and distance education offerings; campus legal counsel 


    SFU Link to Accreditations

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: College Costs

    Quick Take

    Through the active involvement of the NAICU membership, the new law does not include price controls on institutions. However, the law does include several provisions related to college prices – most notably a series of “College Affordability and Transparency Lists,” beginning in July 2011, aimed at highlighting those institutions with the highest prices and highest rates of price increases. Institutions with the highest rates of price increases over the three-year period preceding that date will be required to submit reports to the Secretary of Education. 


    Other cost-related provisions include the development of a “Higher Education Pricing Summary Page” for each institution, which will break out net price information by income categories. Colleges also must post a net price calculator on their Web sites within three years. Additionally, the Secretary will post a multi-year tuition calculator on the College Navigator Web site within one year. 


    Click here to view a free financial aid net price calculator.

    When Will This Take Effect? 


    • The “College Affordability and Transparency Lists” will be published on July 1, 2011. The base year for calculating changes in tuition and fees will be the 2008-09 academic year. Based on current Department of Education information-collection procedures, the base year for net price change calculations will be 2007-08.
    • Institutions must post on their Web sites a net price calculator no later than two years after the Secretary of Education develops a model net price calculator. The model calculator is to be developed by August 14, 2009.
    • The breakout of net price information by income categories must be available by July 1, 2010, for inclusion on a new “Institution Pricing Summary Page.” These provisions are not subject to negotiated rulemaking, although the Secretary of Education may issue regulations under normal procedures. In addition, the Commissioner of Education Statistics will convene “technical review panels” to develop guidelines for calculating “net price,” and to develop a net price calculator.

    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    President; business office; student financial aid; admissions; institutional research; campus Web master; public information office 


    SFU Link to College Costs

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Textbooks

    Quick Take

    Colleges will be required, “to the maximum extent practicable,” to disclose information on required textbooks on all Internet-based course schedules. Required information includes ISBN and retail price for both textbooks and supplemental material. The provision does not apply to printed course schedules. The institution also must provide (as soon as practicable) information on courses – including schedule, required books and supplemental material, and class size – upon the request of a college book store. Many other textbook provisions are directed at publishers, but they indirectly affect institutions.


    When Will This Take Effect? 


    July 1, 2010.The law prohibits the Secretary from issuing regulations on the textbook provisions. (Report language indicates that the conferees recognize that the Secretary may need to provide non-regulatory guidance on these provisions.)

    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    Academic affairs; faculty; book store; Web master; registrar

    SFU Link to Bookstore

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Campus Crime Reporting

    Quick Take

    The new law makes several changes to the campus crime provisions (commonly referred to as the “Clery Act”) of the Higher Education Act: 


    • Safety Report Policies: Current requirements regarding campus law enforcement policies would be expanded to include plans for coordination with state and local law enforcement agencies for the investigation of alleged criminal offenses. (Sec. 485(f)(1)(C))
    • New Hate Crime Reporting: The list of hate crimes to be reported is expanded to include four new crimes: larceny-theft; simple assault; intimidation; and destruction, damage, or vandalism of property. (Sec. 485(f)(1)(F))
    • Emergency Procedures/Notification: Institutions must prepare a statement of campus policies regarding immediate emergency response and evacuation procedures. (See Campus Emergency Procedures Quick Take, page 6)
    • Miscellaneous: The Secretary will report annually to the authorizing committees regarding compliance with the Clery Act, and may consult with the Attorney General regarding best practices. Retaliation against any individual for the purpose of interfering with implementation of its provisions is prohibited. (Sec. 485(f)(15), (16), & (17))

    When Will This Take Effect? 


    This provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. It is subject to negotiated rulemaking, so specific regulatory guidance may be provided in the future. In the meantime, institutions must make a “good faith” effort to comply with the law.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    Security/campus police; legal counsel; institutional research, if involved in collection of crime statistics; those involved in emergency planning 


    SFU Link to University Police

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Campus Emergency Procedures

    Quick Take

    Institutions must prepare a statement of campus policies regarding immediate emergency response and evacuation procedures. This must include procedures for notifying the campus community “immediately” of a “significant emergency or dangerous situation” involving an “immediate threat” occurring at any of the locations specified in the Clery Act (i.e., on campus, non-campus buildings or property, and public property). The procedures must be publicized and tested annually.


    When Will This Take Effect? 


    This provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. It is subject to negotiated rulemaking, so specific regulatory guidance may be provided in the future. In the meantime, institutions must make a “good faith” effort to comply with the law.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    President; security/campus police; public information; those offices involved in emergency planning

    SFU Link to University Police

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Disaggregation of Graduate Data

    Quick Take

    Graduation data under the “Student Right to Know” provisions of the law would have to be disaggregated by gender, by major racial and ethnic subgroup, by recipients of Pell Grants, by recipients of a subsidized federal loan who did not receive a Pell Grant, and by recipients of neither a Pell Grant nor a subsidized loan.


    When Will This Take Effect? 


    For most institutions, this provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. However, the provisions will not apply to two-year degree-granting institutions until the 2011-12 academic year. The provisions are included in Title IV, so they are subject to negotiated rulemaking. The National Center for Education Statistics is also likely have a role in determining how this provision is implemented.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved?

    Registrar, institutional research; financial aid

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Disclosures to Students and Prospective Students

    Quick Take

    Prior to the new law, the HEA already included a list of information that institutions must disclose upon request to students and prospective students. In addition, institutions have been required to provide to enrolled students each year the list of all disclosures under Section 485(a), as well as how to obtain the information.


    The new law adds several disclosures to the list in Section 485(a), including plans for academic improvement, terms and conditions of loans, peer-to-peer file sharing policies, student characteristics, post-graduation information, retention rates, vaccine policies, and disaggregation of graduation data.


    It also adds to or revises the more detailed disclosure requirements included in other subsections of Section 485, including exit counseling, campus crime reports, campus emergency response, transfer of credit, fire safety, missing person procedures, notice of drug violation penalties, entrance counseling, and disclosures of service on lender advisory boards.


    When Will This Take Effect? 


    These provisions went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. They are subject to negotiated rulemaking, so specific regulatory guidance may be provided in the future. In the meantime, institutions must make a “good faith” effort to comply with the law.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    Institutional research; financial aid; security/campus police; public information; student health services

    Link to SFU Catalog

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention

    Quick Take

    Institutions will have additional responsibilities under the existing drug and alcohol requirements, including determining:

    • The number of drug and alcohol-related incidents and fatalities occurring on campus, or as part of an institution’s activities, that are reported to campus officials
    • The number and type of sanctions imposed as a result of such incidents and fatalities

    When Will This Take Effect? 


    This provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. The new information should be incorporated into the biennial review (already required under existing drug and alcohol requirements) the institution submits after this date. It is not subject to negotiated rulemaking. However, the Department could choose to issue clarifying regulations on this new provision.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    Student life; security/campus police; student health services; any other campus officials who report or enforce institutional drug and alcohol policies

    SFU Link to University Police

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Drug Violation Penalty Notice

    Quick Take

    Institutions must provide each student, upon enrollment, a separate written notice advising the student of the penalties for drug violations. For any student who loses federal student aid eligibility due to drug violations, the institution must provide a written notice describing the ways in which the student can regain eligibility.


    When Will This Take Effect? 


    This provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. It is subject to negotiated rulemaking, so specific regulatory guidance may be provided in the future. In the meantime, institutions must make a “good faith” effort to comply with the law.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    Registrar; admissions; financial aid; publications office; any other campus officials who enforce institutional drug policies

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Fire Safety

    Quick Take

    The new law requires any institution maintaining on-campus student housing to issue an annual fire safety report. The report must include statistics regarding the number/causes of fires, number of fire injuries and deaths, and value of property damage. It also must include information on each on-campus student housing fire safety system, the number of regular mandatory fire drills, fire safety policies and education programs, and plans for any needed fire safety improvements. The statistics also must be submitted to the Secretary of Education.


    Every institution must maintain a log that records all fires in on-campus housing facilities, and make an annual report to the campus community on these fires.


    When Will This Take Effect? 


    This provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. It is subject to negotiated rulemaking, so specific regulatory guidance may be provided in the future. In the meantime, institutions must make a “good faith” effort to comply with the law.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    Student housing; physical plant office; public information office; campus internal communications; those who will maintain the fire log and submit fire statistics to the Department of Education

    SFU Link to University Police

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Lobbying Certification

    Each institution must annually “demonstrate and certify” to the Secretary of Education that it has not used any funds under the Higher Education Act to attempt to influence a member of Congress in connection with any federal grant, contract, loan, or cooperative agreement. No student aid funding under HEA may be used to hire a registered lobbyist or to pay for securing an earmark.

    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    President’s Office / Finance & Administration/ Instituional Advancement

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Missing Person Procedures

    Quick Take

    Institutions providing on-campus student housing must establish a missing student notification policy and procedures for those who reside on-campus. Among other things, the student must be given the option to provide confidential contact information for a person to be notified in the event the student is officially reported as missing

If campus security officials determine that a student for whom a missing person report has been filed has been missing for more than 24 hours, then within the next 24 hours they must:

    • Notify the individual identified by the student to be contacted in this circumstance;
    • If the student is under 18 years old, notify a parent or guardian; and
    • [In cases where the student is over 18 and has not identified a person to be contacted,] notify appropriate law enforcement officials.*

* Note: The statutory language is inconsistent, at one point indicating that law enforcement officials will always be notified within 24 hours when a student is officially determined to be missing, and at another point indicating that law enforcement officials will be notified only if the student has not identified a contact or is over 18 years old.

    When Will This Take Effect? 


    This provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. It is subject to negotiated rulemaking, so specific regulatory guidance may be provided in the future. In the meantime, institutions must make a “good faith” effort to comply with the law.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    President; student affairs; student housing; registrar; security/campus police; legal counsel

    SFU Link to University Police

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

    Quick Take

    The new law requires institutions to make disclosures to students about institutional policies and sanctions related to copyright infringement. In addition, an institution must certify it has developed plans to combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material (including the use of technology-based deterrents) and will, to the extent practicable, offer alternatives to illegal downloading.


    When Will This Take Effect? 


    This provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. It is subject to negotiated rulemaking, so specific regulatory guidance may be provided in the future. In the meantime, institutions must make a “good faith” effort to comply with the law.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    President; chief information officer; legal counsel

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Post-Graduate Information

    Quick Take

    Each institution must disclose information about the employment of, and participation in graduate and professional education by its graduates. The information is to be gathered from sources such as alumni surveys, student satisfaction surveys, the National Survey of Student Engagement, the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, state data systems, or other relevant sources.


    An institution does not have to collect complete and precise information from its graduates in order to comply with this disclosure requirement, but it must provide some information on the jobs and further education pursued by its graduates.

    When Will This Take Effect? 


    This provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. It is subject to negotiated rulemaking, so specific regulatory guidance may be provided in the future. In the meantime, institutions must make a “good faith” effort to comply with the law.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    Alumni office; career services; institutional research; any other offices involved with graduate surveys or outcomes measures

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Teacher Preparation Report Cards

    Quick Take

    Institutions with teacher preparation programs and that receive federal student assistance will have increased reporting requirements on the Institutional Report Cards. Most importantly, institutions will need to set annual goals regarding teacher development in shortage areas identified by their state, and provide assurances that they are working toward those goals.


    However, there is an explicit prohibition against using this process to mandate any aspect of teacher education curriculum.


    When will this take effect? 


    This provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008, meaning that the next institutional report card on teacher preparation programs must include this information.


    Who on campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    School or department of education teacher preparation office; institutional research

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Transfer of Credit

    Quick Take

    The new law requires an institution to disclose its transfer of credit policies, including any criteria it uses to make credit transfer decisions and a list of institutions with which it has articulation agreements. 


    Saint Francis University can accept transfer credit from accredited colleges and universities. Transfer credits are evaluated on a course by course basis. Only courses with a grade of "C" or better can be approved for transfer credit. A course for which no credit is given at the original institution cannot be transferred for credit at Saint Francis University. Developmental or remedial courses are not transferrable. Military credit may also be considered for transfer credit. Credit from an international college/university must be first evaluated by a credential evaluating agency. New transfer students can transfer in a maximum of 64 credits.

    The university has articulation agreements with Cambria Rowe Business College, South Hills School of Business and Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. The university has also chosen to participate in the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Center (PA Trac) which provides credit evaluation and guidance for students at Pennsylvania's community colleges.

    Credit Information

    These policies must be published on the institution’s Web site. As part of its regular review for accreditation or re-accreditation, the institution’s accreditor will be required to examine whether the institution has disclosed its policies, and the criteria underlying them.


    When Will This Take Effect? 


    This provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. It is subject to negotiated rulemaking, so specific regulatory guidance may be provided in the future. In the meantime, institutions must make a “good faith” effort to comply with the law. As part of the law’s consumer information requirements (see page 7), these policies must be “easily accessible” on the institution’s Web site by August 14, 2009.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    Academic affairs; registrar; Web master; institutional research

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Voter Registration

    Quick Take

    Since the 1998 reauthorization of the HEA, colleges and universities have been required to distribute hard copies of in-state voter registration forms to students prior to their state’s voter registration deadline. Although the 1998 statute anticipated changes in distributing voter registration forms in the future, it did not specifically state that electronic transmission of the forms was legal. The new law clarifies that e-mail messages with links to the state forms are acceptable, as long as the messages are devoted exclusively to voter registration.


    When Will This Take Effect?

    This provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. Despite its inclusion in Title IV, this provision is not subject to negotiated rulemaking, as the Secretary of Education is not allowed to regulate in this area, and colleges are only required to make a good faith effort at compliance.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    President; registrar; student affairs; any other office involved in distributing the e-mail message or forms

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Student Loan Sunshine

    Quick Take

    The law imposes new restrictions on colleges, guaranty agencies and both federal and private lenders, in order to prevent conflicts between their interests and their responsibilities to borrowers. Issues addressed include “prohibited inducements” by lenders, new disclosures to borrowers, and requirements for institutional codes of conduct. The law also defines the requirements for preferred lender lists developed by colleges.


    Under the new law, colleges can be held liable for the actions of certain “institution-affiliated organizations,” such as alumni associations and athletic booster clubs.

    When Will This Take Effect? 


    These provisions went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. Regulations issued on November 1, 2007 (34CFR 682), also continue to apply unless they were superseded by the new law. Provisions regarding the code of conduct for federal student loans are subject to negotiated rulemaking. The Secretary is required to develop guidelines for disclosures and may issue regulations on other aspects of the new requirements.

    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved?

    Financial aid; legal counsel; business/finance office; development office

    HEA 101 Quick Guide: Veterans Readmission

    Quick Take

    The law includes a new section requiring institutions to readmit veterans who left in order to perform military service. The veteran is to be readmitted with the same academic status he or she had when last in attendance at the institution. In most cases, the length of the absence from the institution cannot exceed five years. The law includes exceptions for veterans receiving a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge, or who are sentenced in a court-martial.


    When Will This Take Effect? 


    This provision went into effect when the bill was signed into law on August 14, 2008. It is subject to negotiated rulemaking, so specific regulatory guidance may be provided in the future. In the meantime, institutions must make a “good faith” effort to comply with the law.


    Who On Campus May Need to Be Involved? 


    Admissions; registrar; veteran’s affairs/services office

    SFU Link SFU Veterans Information and Admissions

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