NAICU Washington Update

Departments of Veterans Affairs, Education Continue Implementation of “Principles of Excellence”

July 23, 2012

The Department  of Education has issued  guidance on the “Principles of Excellence” it is asking institutions to agree to as part of serving military service members and veterans.  Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs has posted the names of the institutions agreeing to the principles on its website.

The Department of Education has issued guidance regarding their expectations for institutions that endorse the principles set out in Executive Order 13607.  The July 13 guidance letter addresses questions regarding seven provisions - including the standardized cost form, refund policies, and individual education plans.

The guidance confirms that institutions endorsing the principles will be expected to use the "Know Before You Owe"model aid offer format for their veteran and military-related students, “once that format is made available by the Department of Education.”  (The format was released on July 24 and may be found here.)

On refund policies, it makes clear that compliance with current “return of Title IV” funds requirements will not be sufficient.  Rather, institutions will be expected to handle the refund of monies provided from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs “in the same manner” as Title IV refunds.  There is still concern about the workability of this provision.  Should the interpretation be revised, Department officials plan to issue supplemental guidance - as they have on their clarification of gainful employment regulations (see separate story)

Individual education plans include general degree requirements, any credits that will be accepted in transfer, and how transfer credits will be applied.  The plan must be provided to students within 60 days of their selecting a degree program and required transcripts have been received.

Institutions already in compliance with Higher Education Act requirements on misrepresentation, incentive compensation, state authorization, substantive change, and readmission  won't be required to change their policies and practices in these areas.   The guidance also calls for the academic and financial advising point of contact to have a basic understanding of Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs education programs.  However, these points of contact aren't required to work exclusively in this area, and may make appropriate referrals.

In related action, the Department of Veterans Affairs has begun posting on its website the names of institutions, by state, that have endorsed the principles.  

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