Students Receiving Federal Aid Are Not Making Satisfactory Academic Progress: Tougher Standards Are Needed

HRD-82-15 Published: Dec 03, 1981. Publicly Released: Dec 03, 1981.
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Highlights

Each year, the government provides billions of dollars in financial aid to students seeking a postsecondary education. GAO visited 20 institutions of higher education and reviewed more than 5,800 randomly selected student transcripts to report on the academic progress requirements of federally funded student aid programs.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Congress should amend the Social Security Act to require students receiving postsecondary education benefits to maintain satisfactory progress in the course of study pursued according to the standards and practices of the school attended. Congress should also amend the Social Security Act and the Higher Education Act of 1965 to authorize the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education to issue regulations setting forth general requirements for institutions of higher education to follow in establishing progress standards.
Closed - Not Implemented
The SSA financial aid program is in the second year of a 3-year phaseout period. Program expenditures will be minimal from now to the program's termination. The Department of Education states that it will be able to issue regulations without congressional action.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Education The Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Education should issue regulations setting forth general requirements that institutions must meet in establishing academic progress standards for postsecondary students receiving Education and Social Security Administration financial aid. These regulations should specify that an institution establish, publish, and enforce academic progress standards for students receiving the aid. The institutions should also be required to show how the academic progress standards relate to the schools' probation/suspension policies and what a student has to do to have financial aid reinstated.
Closed - Implemented
Please call 202/512-6100 for information.
Department of Health and Human Services The Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Education should issue regulations setting forth general requirements that institutions must meet in establishing academic progress standards for postsecondary students receiving Education and Social Security Administration financial aid. These regulations should specify that an institution establish, publish, and enforce academic progress standards for students receiving the aid. The institutions should also be required to show how the academic progress standards relate to the schools' probation/suspension policies and what a student has to do to have financial aid reinstated.
Closed - Implemented
The Department of Education issued regulations on October 6, 1983.
Veterans Administration The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should issue regulations, supplementing those now in effect, to require institutions of higher education to include provisions in their academic progress standards which would require students to move toward graduation or program completion at a reasonable rate.
Closed - Not Implemented
No action will be taken at this time because VA does not agree that action is needed. The action will be discussed with VA again when Education issues regulations.
Office of Management and Budget The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should ensure that the Department of Education, the Social Security Administration, and the Veterans Administration coordinate their efforts in setting and enforcing requirements for academic progress standards under student financial aid programs in an effort to improve administration at both the federal and institutional levels.
Closed - Not Implemented
Because the SSA program is being phased out and VA does not agree with the recommendation, only the Department of Education will take action on the recommendations. Therefore, there is no need for OMB to ensure agency coordination.

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