News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

April 2, 2012

Federal audit says SMWC should return $42M in student aid

College plans to challenge findings

TERRE HAUTE — A federal audit says St. Mary-of-the-Woods College should return $42 million in loans and grants made to students between 2005 and 2010, something the college plans to challenge.

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Education says the college’s students, both on campus and distance education, should not have received Title IV federal financial aid.

The audit says the college’s distance learning programs did not meet the regulatory definition of “telecommunications courses” and should instead have been categorized as “correspondence” courses.

The college disagrees and says its accrediting agency has designated its distance programs as telecommunications.

“I’m a little angry,” Dottie King, college president, said in a telephone interview today. “I know we have done nothing wrong.”

The college “has always acted in good faith with full transparency, and the program has always been completely approved by the Higher Learning Commission,” the college’s accrediting agency, King said.

The audit report includes recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education, and the Woods will now begin discussions will DOE. The college has hired outside legal counsel.

In the meantime, nothing changes for the college or its students while the matter is resolved, which could take some time. The college remains accredited and students’ financial aid is not affected. “It’s business as usual,” King said.

The audit says DOE should “terminate” the college’s participation in the federal Title IV program and require the return of all Title IV funds disbursed during award years 2005-06 through 2009-2010 to the federal government or FFEL lenders.

It also recommends that Title IV funds disbursed in 2010-11 should also be returned.

King believes the $42 million figure is misleading because students must already repay their federal loans and the government can’t ask that those funds be repaid twice.

The audit findings are recommendations that have been forwarded to the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) within the U.S. Department of Education.

FSA will undertake an independent review of the recommendations and the college’s response and determine whether any action is warranted, and if so, the nature of such action.

According to the audit report, under the Higher Education Act of 1965, “an institution is not eligible to participate in the Title IV programs if 50 percent or more of its students were enrolled in correspondence courses during its latest complete award year. The college considered its programs to be offered in either on-campus or telecommunications formats. It did not consider any of its programs to be offered through correspondence. However, based on our review of the College’s documentation and interviews with college officials and students, we concluded that courses were in fact offered in a correspondence format.”

The college submitted an extensive response to the OIG, which is part of the audit report.

The college has an enrollment of about 1,500 students.

The campus community is being informed of the findings today.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Video Shows Smiling American Bomber in Syria Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity