TEACH Grants Becoming Loans for Most Recipients
A Department of Education study has found that 63 percent of TEACH Grant recipients saw their grants become loans. Based on the report’s findings, teachers whose grants converted to loans failed to meet the program’s eligibility requirements due to being unqualified in a certain field or recertification paperwork issues. The report also discovered that some colleges use the grant to meet students’ financial aid needs rather than to achieve the program’s intended purpose. One key finding revealed that colleges are more likely to use TEACH Grants to make a degree more affordable instead of guiding graduates toward high-need fields at. Read More.
FAFSA Mobile App Announced
In its efforts to update the federal student aid system, the Department of Education is planning to make the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (“FAFSA”) available via a mobile application. Office of Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer A. Wayne Johnson said the app would make it easier for students to file for federal aid and provide a modernized experience throughout the application process. Johnson also noted that the app could perform many of the functions that student loan servicers can provide borrowers via the web and telephone. The app will likely arrive in April. More on the future FAFSA mobile app is available. Read More.
College Scorecard Receives an Update
The Department of Education recently updated information on the College Scorecard, a consumer tool aimed at helping students research colleges and universities. The update includes a new feature that allows data from up to 10 colleges and universities to be compared. More on the College Scorecard update is available on the Inside Higher Ed website.
GAO Calls for Improved Grant Monitoring Oversight
According to a study of 75 discretionary grant programs, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) has concluded that the Department of Education grant staff failed to effectively monitor grantee performance. The GAO found that inconsistent grant monitoring has led to around $21 million in discretionary grant funds lacking proper documentation. In particular, 69 of the 75 grants studied were missing key documents such as annual performance reports. As a result of its findings, the Department of Education has agreed to the GAO’s recommendations of implementing detailed written supervisory review procedures and establishing guidance on using the Post-Award Monitoring module. More on the discretionary grants review is available on GAO.gov.
Online FAFSA Tool Temporarily Down for Months
An online tool used by students to help them complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (“FAFSA”) might be unavailable for several months. In a joint statement last week, the Department of Education and Internal Revenue Service said the tool will be down until security protections are implemented. The added security measures are aimed to protect the taxpayer data of those who submit an application. Students should expect the tool to be back at the start of the next FAFSA season on October 1. More on the FAFSA online tool is available on the Inside Higher Ed website.
Student Aid Enforcement Unit Introduced
Officials from the Department of Education have announced the establishment of a new office focused on investigating misconduct at higher institutions. The Student Aid Enforcement Unit will be responsible for imposing administrative actions against colleges and universities, and resolving debt relief claims to defrauded student loan borrowers. Robert Kaye will oversee the Student Aid Enforcement Unit, which will consist of 50 department employees. To help fund the enforcement efforts, the Obama Administration has requested $13.7 million from Congress. For more on the Student Aid Enforcement Unit , check out the Inside Higher Ed Web site.