- Financial Aid Programs are regulated by complex and voluminous regulations. There is a long-standing requirement that a college not award federal financial aid for classes that do not directly apply to a financial aid-eligible degree or certificate program. Specifically, the Student Financial Handbook clarifies (34 CFR 668.2) and states, “you cannot award the student aid for classes that do not count toward his degree, certificate, or other recognized credential.”
- Institutional Liability
- The financial risks associated with funding courses that are not Course Applicable could mean sanctions for Cosumnes River College, including repayment of disbursed funds and possible loss of the college’s ability to administer Title IV aid.
- Why Now?
- This is not a new requirement. The U.S. Department of Education has recently levied audit findings against several institutions for non-compliance with federal regulations regarding disbursement practices. Institutional scrutiny is at an all-time high to ensure accountability with Federal Financial Aid policies and regulations.
- Fee Waiver
- Course Applicability is a Federal requirement and therefore does NOT impact a student’s eligibility for the California’s Board of Governor’s (BOG) Fee Waiver.
- How Will it Work?
- LRCCD has purchased course audit software, Highpoint, which will interface with an existing degree audit tool in the PeopleSoft system. This software ensures that the student’s enrollment specifically meets the program’s requirements for Federal financial aid, which will also impact state aid. Any non-required units will not be eligible for disbursement.
- Impacted Students
- In an analysis of Spring 2017 enrollments, approximately 1 in 5 students, who are receiving Federal Financial Aid, enrolled into a class that was outside of their Major, General Education requirements, elective allowance or did not qualify as a pre-requisite.
- Next Steps
- Beginning November 28th, students who are on Federal and State Financial Aid will be notified daily (following any enrollment activity) if they have enrollment in courses for the Spring 2017 semester that is not applicable to their certificate or degree program. This notice will inform the student that they cannot receive Federal Financial Aid for these course units. As a result, students may add/drop courses later than they typically do, which may impact overall course enrollments.
- Where to Go for Help
- Effective January 27th, students can be directed to General Counseling for a consultation regarding course applicability if the student believes that the system has denied a course’s financial aid eligibility in error. Students with Course Applicability questions will receive prompt support for their inquiries.