VA Plans No Changes to Refund Policy
December 17, 2012
At an annual conference hosted by the Department of Education's Federal Student Aid (FSA) office, Robert Worley, director of education services at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), confirmed that institutions agreeing to comply with Executive Order (EO) 13607, "Establishing Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members" will not have to follow ED's Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculations for VA funds.
The Principles of Excellence include a provision requiring schools to agree to an institutional refund policy that is aligned with ED's R2T4 rules when a student withdraws prior to completing a course. NACUBO, along with several other higher education associations, expressed concern with this provision and others in a June letter sent to the Secretaries charged with enforcing the Executive Order, but never received a clear answer regarding the refund policy.
An Executive Order only allows agencies to conduct activities to the extent permitted under the law. Current statutory language does not permit the return of VA funds in the manner described in the EO, explained Worley.
The Department of Defense (DoD), however, plans to include language similar to R2T4 in its third iteration of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that institutions must sign in order to participate in Tuition Assistance programs for active service members. DoD released version two of the MOU on December 7. A draft of version three of the MOU is expected to be available for comment in spring of 2013.
Slides and Audio Available
The presentation at the FSA conference provides a good overview of the Principles of Excellence. In addition to Mr. Worley, panelists included Carolyn Baker from the DoD and David Bergeron from ED. The presentation slides, along with recorded audio, are available on the FSA website. Worley addresses the refund policy issue during the Q&A portion of the session (58-minute mark).
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