Department Of Education Cold Cases

Career College Central summary:

  • Earlier this year, the Education Department suddenly told officials at two universities they needed to pay up for minor infractions of federal student aid rules alleged to have occurred from 1994 to 1996.
  • The institutions — the University of Colorado at Boulder and Yale University — had initially objected to the fines when, in 1998, the Education Department’s Office of Inspector General issued reports finding them at fault for going too far in exercising discretion over how it awarded federal financial aid to students.
  • Under federal law, college financial aid officers are permitted to use their own “professional judgment” in determining whether special circumstances exist for a student that would entitle him or her to more federal financial aid.
  • In 1997, the Education Department’s inspector general launched an audit into the University of Colorado’s use of “professional judgment” for the 1994-95 and 1995-96 academic years. Those investigators issued a report in July 1998 that concluded that the university misused its discretion, and sought a repayment of funds.

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