Request to Identify Burdensome Regulations: Student Eligibility, SAP, New Programs, Additional Locations

NASFAA continues to seek member input about regulations that should be recommended to the Department of Education (ED) for repeal, replacement, or modification. The initial article in this series explained the basis of this solicitation and requested input on verification. The second article sought opinions on rules related to the return of Title IV funds for withdrawn students, and on the Direct Loan Program. The third article concerned the Pell Grant and campus-based programs, and issues related to nontraditional program formats. The fourth article asked member views on regulations governing disclosures (including student consumer information) and reporting requirements. This final article invites comments on student eligibility regulations, including satisfactory academic progress (SAP), and rules to establish new academic programs and additional institutional locations. Is there anything else in regulation that bugs you? Tell us about that as well!

Please give your recommendations either as a comment to this article, or in an email to, subject line “Regulatory reform.”

Student Eligibility

Most of the student eligibility criteria are statutory in nature, although regulations and ED policy implement them (see the student eligibility section of NASFAA’s Student Aid Index). For example, military selective service law denies Higher Education Act (HEA) Title IV assistance to students who fail to register for selective service when required to, unless a student can show by a preponderance of evidence that the failure to register was not knowing and willful. While this regulatory reduction initiative cannot eliminate the Selective Service registration requirement, it can alter regulations and procedures that govern how a student and the institution go about establishing that failure to register was not knowing and willful.

Likewise, suspension of eligibility for drug-related offenses is statutory, along with the penalty periods and rehabilitation exception. Rules governing how a student regains eligibility by completing a drug rehabilitation program are regulatory.

The law requires that a student meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements, but the basic outline for those requirements are regulatory. Although ED sets the basic parameters, schools have options as to how they design the required components. The fundamental requirement to have a SAP policy is also part of the administrative capability regulations that in part determine an institution’s eligibility to participate in the Title IV programs.

Are there any regulations associated with these or other student eligibility criteria that should be repealed or revised?

New Programs and Additional Locations

Some new programs may be established without ED approval, others require approval. Are there any rules or procedures that inhibit your institution’s ability to set up new programs, especially in response to the needs of businesses or industries in your community or fields of study?

Additional locations must be reported to ED under certain circumstances, most notably when at least 50 percent of a program is offered there, and ED’s approval might be required. In part, these regulations enable ED to assess whether the additional location affects the institution’s financial and administrative capabilities. Have you encountered problems with these rules?

Anything Else?

What have we not addressed that causes unnecessary burden or cost, or that inhibits effective operations or innovation?


Publication Date: 8/8/2017

Deb P | 8/8/2017 4:29:57 PM

I find this SAP requirement related to Maximum Timeframe extremely burdnesome. Student is ineligible at the evaluation point where indicated will exceed max timeframe NOT at the point when they actually reach the max timeframe. Example At the end of the payment period (SAP evaluation checkpoint) student has atttempted 160 credit-hours out of a possible 180 credit-hours allowed under max timeframe but has 25 hours left to earn to eomplet his degree. Sttudent is not meeting SAP due to exceeding the max timeframe because he has more hours to earn than whais is allowed to graduated within the maximum timeframe. This is hard to explain to students and hard to program. Way to complex for what could be a straightforward max.

Marguerite J | 8/8/2017 11:15:13 AM

SAP Duration is burdensome for our school due to students taking lots of additional credits that do not necessarily get them to their degree faster. Since we charge a flat rate for full time, students are taking classes that they are interested in as well as taking classes that go toward their major, sometimes using 50 credits per year. these are our brightest students with high gpas and we have tell them are not making SAP. It doesn't make sense to them or us to have this in place. if there must be a limit, let the aid programs themselves be the limit.

Dolly D | 8/8/2017 10:16:58 AM

If a student answers they are a Grad Student on the FAFSA, why not skip the high school question? ATB should not be an issue at Grad level.

David S | 8/8/2017 10:2:59 AM

As you say, Selective Service and suspension for drug-related convictions are statutory, not regulatory (and let's work with members of Congress who want to change drug-related laws to change this in Reauthorization - Senators Cory Booker and Rand Paul might be a good place to start). But in the meantime, what's preventing ED from writing regulations that say "the financial aid application and disbursement processes shall not be used to identify students who do not meet these requirements?" Applying for financial aid should be for the purpose of receiving financial aid, not giving the authorities a means to found that you broke a law that has nothing to do with your ability to improve your life by furthering your education.

Only catch is that this would throw enforcing federal law back where it belongs, with the Department of Justice. So hold off on writing these regs until Jeff Sessions has a new job.

Jeff A | 8/8/2017 9:29:06 AM

Now that every single program subject to GE must be on the ECAR, and a program is defined as the CIP code/level, a minor adjustment to a CIP or addition of a program could be a landmine for liability if adding the program to the ECAR is overlooked.

Let's require that programs be updated when you next have reason to update something significant on your ECAR, and consider programs approved pending ECAR update if related to an already approved program. Clarify that only programs that have a unique first 2 or 4 CIP digits must be added within 10 days.

James C | 8/8/2017 8:43:48 AM

There is a rule that if a certificate program is not fully transferable to an Associate degree program then the certificate program is a clock hour program for aid calculations even if it is a credit program at your school. This requirement is burdensome and quite honestly, not adhered to at most schools.

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