[Guide] How For-Profit Schools can Simplify Compliance

for-profit schools can simplify compliance

[Guide] How For-Profit Schools can Simplify Compliance

[Guide] How For-Profit Schools can Simplify Compliance

New software can help schools prevent fraud, maintain compliance with federal and accreditor regulations, and protect themselves against borrower defense claims. 

Every day, your staff arrives at work only to be met with piles and piles of paperwork that they have to manually enter into the SIS. At best, it’s a tedious process, that takes hours of staff time that could be better spent on higher-value tasks. At worst, you’re leaving your school open to data errors and other significant compliance risks.

CourseKey collects, automates, and visualizes your data in real-time to take the guesswork out of the legwork. With accurate, verifiable data your staff can catch compliance issues early and have peace of mind that your data is fraud-free and audit-ready.

Whether your programs include online, on-ground, or externships, software ensures you have real-time student data from every learning environment. Let’s explore the many ways software helps your school stay compliant.

Table of Contents

How Software Prevents Fraud

Manual data entry errors aren’t your only concern when attendance is tracked on paper. Students may be buddy punching and instructors have more leeway to start class late or end early. 

“One of the discoveries we had when we implemented attendance software was surrounding the timeliness of when classes started and ended. We didn’t have that visibility before,” said Ena Hull, COO of Legacy Education. 

Ena with Legacy Education started using attendance software, she had clear visibility into which students were present and how long classes were held. “When we partnered with CourseKey and began to measure the things going on in the classroom, we quickly determined when classes started on time and ended on time. And that the instructors were meeting the requirements of the program.” 

CourseKey protects your data integrity by providing transparency when adjustments or corrections need to be made to student data. CourseKey protects data integrity by providing transparency to any adjustments or corrections made to student attendance data.

How software proves your data to accreditors

Transparent reporting isn’t just about giving auditors all of your data—it’s about giving them a complete picture of your school’s operations. To provide a comprehensive picture of your operations, your data must be accurate, verifiable, and consistent over its entire lifecycle.

Your reports are only as good as the information that goes into them. Between human error and potentially fraudulent activities, tracking your data manually reduces its integrity and doesn’t accurately showcase the level of care you have for your policies and procedures.

“Because we are a higher ed institution, we are federally regulated,” said Leanne Rohmann with Legacy Education. “The way we work with a student is monitored through federal regulators, the state, and ED. Attendance is a critical piece in every one of these areas. If there are mistakes and a student falls below an attendance requirement, it could impact the completion of their program.”

When it comes time to compile your data for accreditors, wouldn’t it be nice to know that all of the information included is accurate? 

How Software Simplifies Accreditation and Audits

Schools must go through strict audits and accreditation processes to obtain Title IV funding, certification, and recognition. Historically, audits have been a pain, requiring box after box of paper records to verify the data in the SIS. Unfortunately, if you’re entering the data manually, you can’t be sure that the data is accurate. Verifiable data is more important to your school now than ever as regulators are cracking down even harder on for-profit schools.

ED is even laying the hammer down on accreditors, adding additional documentation requirements to an agency’s already rigorous standards. In July 2020, changes to accreditation requirements included modifications to the documentation required to demonstrate an agency’s student achievement standards, 

Now, institutions are required to document:

  • Actions taken against institutions or programs that do not meet agency standards
  • Whether agencies have adequate staff and financial resources

 

Software simplifies your audits and accreditation processes by documenting and verifying the data you need for accurate reporting. It provides access to essential metrics like Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and proves that students are earning the hours they need to graduate. You want to ensure accreditors know that your institution is providing quality education, and software provides the proof. To make the accreditation or reaccreditation process as smooth as possible, eliminate rummaging through boxes of files. Utilize software to create, store, and manage the data. 

At DeHart Technical School, CourseKey makes the process easy. 

"If I'm feeding grades into CourseKey, attendance into CourseKey, if I need exact minutes, CourseKey is always going to be able to prove it and I can always match it to our SIS. I never have to worry about the two being off. So when I sit down with an accreditor who says 'prove to me that Tom Jones was here' I can show them we have Tom Jones ID, and he's connected with biometrics on his phone plus a QR code. It's the easiest, most straightforward thing in the world to be able to set up simple verification."

Damon Fugett, Director, Depart Technical School

 

But great recordkeeping isn’t enough if you’re not compliant with Title IV throughout the year.

How Software Helps For-Profit Schools Improve Compliance with Title IV

Title IV of the Higher Education Act is the lifeblood of every school and ensures that every student has access to post-secondary education. Schools that receive Title IV funding must follow strict requirements to ensure taxpayer money is well spent, particularly at proprietary schools.

“We’re constantly saddled with qualitative and quantitative benchmarks,” said Damon Fugett, Director of DeHart Technical School. “We have to prove that a student was here, prove that the student did the work, and then monitor and assess whether they’re meeting those benchmarks.” 

Student success is every school’s number one priority, but a school can’t focus on the students if they’re spending all staff members’ time ensuring their data is compliant. Software simplifies compliance by ensuring the data you need is verifiable and available with the click of a button. Let’s take a look at administrative capability.

Read The 4 Factor Framework To Improve Compliance At For-Profit Schools to learn more.

Administrative Capability

Administrative capability is an institution’s ability to comply with the laws and regulations governing the Title IV student aid programs. If a school suffers from mismanaged records, delayed reporting, and Title IV errors, they are not considered “administratively capable” of receiving funds.  

As of July 2023, there will be new rules for administrative capability surrounding aggressive recruitment policies. For a more in-depth analysis of new rules and regulations, hop over to Federal Regulation Changes Impacting Your School.

If we cannot demonstrate that we’ve reported well, it shows a lack of administrative capability,” Ena said. “The CourseKey solution has allowed us to close that gap quickly and strengthen us to continue to scale and grow at the level that we have.”

Ena Hull, COO, Legacy Education

FDA, LDA, R2T4, and the compliance alphabet

You make an investment in your students before they even walk in your door, so it’s critical that they show up on day one. The longer you’re left waiting on a paper attendance sheet, the longer you’re delaying Title IV drawdown.

Unfortunately, not every student makes it across the finish line. When a student drops, schools must return any unearned Title IV funds. To begin R2T4 calculations your staff needs accurate Last Day of Attendance (LDA)—which is easier said than done if you’re waiting days or weeks for attendance sheets. 

With real-time attendance software, you have an accurate view of LDA the moment a student drops—ensuring your R2T4 calculations are timely and accurate. 

Software Helps Provide Burden of Proof in Borrower Defense Claims

Federal Student Aid (FSA) protects students from schools that don’t provide the programs and gainful employment promised. If a student’s case is proven to have validity, it discharges some or all of a student’s federal student loan debt. This is called Borrower Defense to Repayment.

In March of 2021, the Department announced several rule changes to borrower defense to repayment. Approved claims can now expect:

  • Full discharge (100%) of federal student loans
  • Reimbursement of any amount paid toward the loan according to regulations
  • Requests to remove negative credit reporting with the credit bureaus
  • Reinstatement of federal student aid eligibility for those who lost it.

As of April 2022, ED may require any firm with at least a 50% stake in a private college to join college officials in signing the institution’s program participation agreement, or PPA, which is a pledge to follow federal funding standards. This means that any individual with a 50% stake in the company is financially responsible in the event of a borrower defense claim. Should a borrower’s defense claim be approved, ED could go after school owners for the discharged funds. 

Through approved borrower defense claims, ED has discharged $2 billion in debt among 107,000 borrowers. Is your school prepared to protect itself? Shouldering the burden of proof means it is your responsibility to prove that you provided the education promised to your students. 

Verifiable records put the power back in your schools’ hands, empowering you to prove that you provided the education promised. Pulling this data isn’t a trial, either. You’re not relying on delayed our outdated information. It’s not waiting in the SIS or LMS to be transferred into a report. Records are created by the software and transferred into the SIS with a time and date stamp. With skills tracker, everything a student does in your classroom is documented, including assessments and assignments. You have a record of everything your student has completed or been assigned—all with a click of a button. 

CourseKey’s Compliance-First Software is Here to Help

Every school wants to see that affirmation letter that they’re in compliance and ready to educate the next generation of essential workers. And it’s our mission to help you get there. Speaking with us about a recent audit at her school, LeeAnn Rohmann, president of High Desert Medical College, told us, “We just came from our site visit and, you know, zero findings, zero violations, zero citations.” 

CourseKey helps maintain compliance by ensuring accurate data, compiling transparent reports easily, and protecting your data. Your staff can compile transparent reports easily, ensure you’re maintaining compliance, and protect your school from fraud and borrower defense claims. Request a demo to learn more about what CourseKey can do for your school.

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