UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20202
In the Matter
BOISE BIBLE COLLEGE,
Financial Assistance Proceeding
Respondent. ACN: 10-51016
Appearances: Robert L. Aldridge, Esq., Boise, Idaho, for Boise
Bible College, Inc.
Alexandra Gil-Montero, Esq., Office
of the General Counsel, United States
Department of Education, Washington, D.C., for Student Financial Assistance
Before: Judge Richard F. O'Hair
The final audit determination relies on an audit of Boise's Title IV Financial Aid Programs for the period July 1, 1992, through June 30, 1994, which was conducted by a firm of independent auditors employed by Boise. The auditors found that Boise's misinterpretation of its policy for monitoring satisfactory progress and determining eligibility for Federal student financial aid resulted in five Boise students improperly receiving student aid during the 1993-94
Federal regulations require an eligible institution, such as Boise, to
establish, publish, and
apply reasonable standards for measuring whether a student, who is otherwise eligible for Title
IV aid, is maintaining satisfactory progress in his or her course of study. 34 C.F.R.
§ 668.14(e) (1993). ED considers an institution's standards to be reasonable if they are the
as, or stricter than, those applied to an institution's students who are not receiving assistance
from a Title IV program, and if the standards are based upon grades, completed work projects,
or comparable factors that are measurable against a norm. 34 C.F.R. § 668.14(e) (1993).
Similarly, the regulations provide that a currently enrolled student is eligible for Title IV aid if,
among other requirements, the student is maintaining satisfactory progress in his or her course of
study, as measured against the institution's standards of satisfactory progress. 34 C.F.R.
§ 668.7(a)(5) (1993).
The standards Boise adopted for measuring whether a student is
eligible for Title IV
student financial aid are found in both the 1993-95 Boise Bible College Catalog and a 1989-1990
Student Financial Aid Consumer Information pamphlet. In the paragraphs addressing academic
probation and suspension, the catalog informs the students as follows:
You will be placed on academic probation at the end of any semester in which your GPA [grade point average] falls below 1.75 (for freshmen) or 2.00 (for all others).
Academic suspension will usually take place when either of the following conditions are present:
1. You fail all classes in a semester,
including your first semester,
unless extenuating circumstances are present that are acceptable to
the Academic Council;
2. You have two successive semesters under minimum GPA.
Respondent's Exhibit R-1, at 76.
The Boise catalog explains that students who are placed in an academic suspension status lose their right to federal financial aid for at least one semester after the student returns to school. It also directs inquiries regarding federal and state financial assistance to the Student Financial Aid Consumer Information pamphlet. That pamphlet quite clearly prescribes as a qualitative
requirement for federal aid that the "[s]tudent must maintain a cumulative grade point average of
2.0, except that a freshman student must maintain CGPA of 1.75." Respondent's Exhibit R-3, at
A later paragraph in that pamphlet informs the reader that a student
will be placed on
financial aid probation for one semester when he/she receives less that a 2.0 (1.75 for freshmen)
cumulative grade point average (CGPA). It further states that if the CGPA is not raised to the
appropriate level during the probationary semester, the student becomes ineligible for further
federal, state, and/or institutional financial aid. The pamphlet explains that a student's financial
aid eligibility may be reinstated when the student's CGPA is raised to a 2.0. It also authorizes a
student who is placed on academic probation or suspension of financial aid to appeal for relief to
the Faculty Committee. Id. at 20.
The audit submitted by Boise describes five students to whom
Boise improperly applied
its policy for monitoring satisfactory academic progress and, therefore, were improperly
determined to be eligible for Title IV aid during the 1993-94 award year. Prior to that award
year, Boise placed each of these five students on academic probation for failure to achieve the
minimum CGPA. During the succeeding probationary semester, they again failed to raise their
CGPA to the minimum level. Then during the 1993-94 award year, each of these students was
awarded Title IV student financial aid. Boise concedes that one of the students was ineligible for
financial aid, but it appears to defend its determination of eligibility for the remaining four
students on the basis that each had successfully appealed a pending school suspension action. In
each of these four cases, even though the students did not raise their CGPA's to the minimum
level during their semester on academic probation, apparently they convinced the institution's
Academic Council that they should not be suspended from school because of the existence of
mitigating circumstances and that they had the potential to succeed. It appears that during this
award year, the erroneous policy Boise followed was that if the student successfully challenged a
pending suspension and was permitted to continue in a probationary status, then the student
continued his/her eligibility for Title IV aid.
I agree with Boise's auditors and SFAP that Boise improperly
interpreted its policy for
monitoring the satisfactory progress of its students for purposes of determining eligibility for
Title IV student financial aid. Boise disbursed Pell Grants, Supplemental Education Opportunity
Grants (SEOG) and/or student loans to these five students who, because they earned below-
minimum CGPA's during the probationary semester, were ineligible for Title IV student
financial aid. Boise established and published appropriate standards for monitoring its students'
satisfactory progress, but for some reason, the institution did not correctly apply those standards
in this instance. Accordingly, Boise has a liability of $15,862 for its Title IV disbursements for
these five students. This amount is based upon $14,072 in student loans, $1,525 in Pell Grants,
$265 in SEOG funds, and $1,266 in interest charges.
2. Boise improperly disbursed Pell Grants, SEOG funds and
student loans to these five
students during the 1993-94 award year.
Judge Richard F. O'Hair
Dated: April 18, 1996
A copy of the attached initial decision was sent by certified mail, return receipt requested to the
Robert L. Aldridge, Esq.
1209 North Eighth Street
Boise, Idaho 83702-4297
Alexandra Gil-Montero, Esq.
Office of the General Counsel
U.S. Department of Education
600 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-2110