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Higher Education Opportunities Act
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.
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:
In related provisions, the new law also makes substantial changes to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI).
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.
Offices involved with accreditation and distance education offerings; campus legal counsel
SFU Link to Accreditations
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.
President; business office; student financial aid; admissions; institutional research; campus Web master; public information office
SFU Link to College Costs
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.
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.)
Academic affairs; faculty; book store; Web master; registrarSFU Link to Bookstore
The new law makes several changes to the campus crime provisions (commonly referred to as the “Clery Act”) of the Higher Education Act:
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.
Security/campus police; legal counsel; institutional research, if involved in collection of crime statistics; those involved in emergency planning
SFU Link to University Police
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.
President; security/campus police; public information; those offices involved in emergency planningSFU Link to University Police
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.
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.
Registrar, institutional research; financial aid
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.
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.
Institutional research; financial aid; security/campus police; public information; student health servicesLink to SFU Catalog
Institutions will have additional responsibilities under the existing drug and alcohol requirements, including determining:
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.
Student life; security/campus police; student health services; any other campus officials who report or enforce institutional drug and alcohol policiesSFU Link to University Police
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.
Registrar; admissions; financial aid; publications office; any other campus officials who enforce institutional drug policies
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.
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 EducationSFU Link to University Police
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.
President’s Office / Finance & Administration/ Instituional Advancement
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:
President; student affairs; student housing; registrar; security/campus police; legal counselSFU Link to University Police
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.
President; chief information officer; legal counsel
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.
Alumni office; career services; institutional research; any other offices involved with graduate surveys or outcomes measures
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.
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.
School or department of education teacher preparation office; institutional research
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 InformationThese 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.
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.
Academic affairs; registrar; Web master; institutional research
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.
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.
President; registrar; student affairs; any other office involved in distributing the e-mail message or forms
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.
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.
Financial aid; legal counsel; business/finance office; development office
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.
Admissions; registrar; veteran’s affairs/services officeSFU Link SFU Veterans Information and Admissions
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