Missouri Education Watchdog by Cheri Kiesecker

Congress largely eliminated Title IV aid for correspondence courses because of widespread abuse.

In December 2017 The Huffington Post  published this piece, Risks Of Fraud In Competency-Based Education, written by David Halperin, where he reviews the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General report on Competency-Based Education. We’ve posted several excerpts below but suggest you read both the OIG report and the Huffington Post piece.  Halperin reminds us that correspondence education cannot be funded by federal Title IV monies unless students have “regular and substantive interaction with the faculty”.  He states,

“The Inspector General report found WASC’s oversight of such programs by educational institutions lacking in a number of respects; for example, WASC “did not evaluate whether proposed competency-based education programs were designed to ensure faculty-initiated, regular, and substantive interaction between faculty and students. According to Title IV regulations, programs that are not designed to ensure such interaction should be classified as programs delivered via correspondence, not distance education.”

Such correspondence courses were eliminated by Congress from eligibility for Title IV aid in the early 1990’s after investigations revealed widespread abuses. The blanket ban was modified late in the 1990’s as various interests pushed for eligibility of distance education programs delivered via the Internet. Congress attempted to provide for eligibility of legitimate distance ed programs by distinguishing them from ineligible correspondence programs based on the “regular and substantive interaction with the faculty” that characterized the former.

My expert sees a risk that the new IG report will create pressure to eliminate this test, and the expert believes doing so would “provide an enormous loophole for correspondence programs to sneak back in, and create the next path of least resistance for widespread fraud in Title IV”[…]

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