Basic Consumer Information Requirements College Institutions Must Provide Their Students
Colleges that participate in Federal Student Aid Programs under Title IV must comply with certain requirements related to consumer information. Typically this information is available through general publications such as a college catalog, but other information must be provided directly to students. All of this information must be provided to students upon request.
Institutions must provide the following general information about their school
- Names of accrediting or licensing boards, associations or agencies
- Special facilities and services available to students with disabilities
- The cost of attending the school, including individual program costs
- A statement regarding the return of federal student aid funds
- The degree programs, training, and other education offered
- The availability of a GED program if they admit students who do not have a high school diploma
- The physical plant facilities associated with academic programs
- A listing of faculty or other instructional personnel
- Contact information for financial assistance and general school questions
- Terms and conditions under which students receiving federal loans may get deferments
- Information regarding federal aid programs for study abroad
Schools must also provide the following Financial Aid information
- The need-based and non-need-based aid available to students from federal, state, and institutional sources
- How students apply for financial aid and how eligibility is determined
- How the school distributes financial aid among students
- The rights and responsibilities of students receiving financial aid
- How and when financial aid will be disbursed
- Terms and conditions of any employment that is part of the financial aid package
- Details regarding loan repayment and required loan exit counseling
- Criteria for maintaining and re-establishing satisfactory academic progress
- Additional Requirements
In addition to this basic consumer information, schools must comply with other laws and regulations
- Student Right-to-Know Act – this Act requires disclosure of information on graduation, completion, and transfer-out rates for both athletes and non-athletes.
- Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act (EADA) – this Act requires disclosure of athletic program participation rates and financial support data.
- Campus Security/Clery Act – this Act requires an Annual Security Report disclosing a school’s security policies and reporting of crime statistics. In addition, schools must provide a timely warning to the campus community of any occurrences of crimes such as homicide, sex offenses, robbery, assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, and violations of drug, alcohol, and weapons laws.
- Campus Security and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) – FERPA grants certain privacy rights to students. However, the provisions of FERPA do not prevent a college from complying with the Campus Security Act. Records created and maintained by a campus law enforcement unit for law enforcement purposes are not education records and may be disclosed without a student’s consent. In other words, certain privacy rights are waived if a student engages in criminal activity.
- Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Information – schools that participate in the campus-based programs (such as Federal Work Study) must comply with disclosure requirements for drug and alcohol abuse prevention.
- Loan Counseling – schools must provide entrance counseling to first time student loan borrowers and exit counseling to all student loan borrowers when they leave school. The purpose of this regulation is to ensure that students know their rights and responsibilities as borrowers under federal loan programs.
The federal government may fine, limit, suspend, or terminate the participation of any school that substantially misrepresents the nature of its educational programs, its financial charges, or the employability of its graduates. Substantial misrepresentation is defined as any false, erroneous, or misleading statement made to a student or prospective student, or to the family of an enrolled or prospective student, if such statement proves detrimental. Examples would include false statements about a school accreditation, scholarship offerings, or employment opportunities for graduates which might result in a student’s tainted decision to enroll at that particular school.