UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20202
In the Matter of Docket No. 96-16-ST
UNIVERSIDAD FEDERICO HENRIQUEZ
Y CARVAJAL, Student Financial Assistance Proceeding
The office of Student Financial Assistance Programs (SFAP) of the U.S. Department of Education (Department) issued a notice of intent to terminate the eligibility of Universidad Federico Henriquez y Carvajal (Carvajal or Respondent) to participate in the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), and to impose a fine of $124,900. 20 U.S.C. § 1070 et seq. and 42 U.S.C. § 2751 et seq. This termination notification was followed by Carvajal's request for a hearing. A hearing on this matter was conducted in Washington, D.C., on October 1 and 2, 1996.
The grounds for this termination and fine proceeding, initiated pursuant to 34 C.F.R.
§ 668, Subpart G, are that Carvajal failed to meet appropriate standards of administrative
capability with respect to its conduct of the Title IV, HEA programs in that it: 1) failed to
conduct and/or use a need analysis for Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL); 2) had no
established refund policy and failed to pay refunds; 3) failed to maintain required FFEL
documentation; and, 4) failed to develop a proper satisfactory academic progress policy. The
letter of notification concludes by alleging that Carvajal also does not adhere to the required
fiduciary standard of conduct in administering the Title IV, HEA programs. At the beginning of
the hearing, SFAP withdrew the allegation that Carvajal failed to maintain required FFEL
documentation, and it will not be further addressed in this decision.
Respondent is a private, postsecondary university located in the Dominican Republic
which has been participating in Title IV, HEA programs for its United States students since 1987.
The bulk of its United States students receiving Federal student financial aid have been enrolled
in Respondent's four year medical program. Respondent originally operated under the name of
Universidad Mundial Dominicana (Mundial), which was administered by Dr. Ronald Bauer. Dr.
Bauer allegedly engaged in some financial improprieties with funds belonging to Mundial and on
February 3, 1988, Consejo Nacional de Education Superior (CONES), the National Council for
Higher Education for the Dominican Republic, assumed operational control of Mundial.See footnote 11 From
that point, until February 12, 1991, Dr. Margarita Cornielle and her husband, Mr. Rumaldo
Fermin, two former Mundial administrators, were appointed by CONES to jointly administer
Mundial. Recognizing that Mundial's professional reputation had been tarnished by Dr. Bauer's
misconduct, on February 12, 1991, CONES, by means of two presidential decrees, first
terminated Mundial as a legal entity, and then established Universidad Federico Henriquez y
Carvajal. Respondent stressed that the point for issuing these two separate decrees was to
reinforce the fact that Carvajal was a new, independent institution, and not a successor institution
From May 23 through May 26, 1994, the Department conducted a program review of the
Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Programs administered at Carvajal for award years 1992-
93 and 1993-94.See footnote 22 The program reviewers requested that Dr. Cornielle, acting in her capacity as
the director of financial aid, provide them with all of Carvajal's Title IV student financial aid
files for those two years. Dr. Cornielle was able to locate 61 such files for their examination.
The program reviewers prepared a program review letter which described regulatory deficiencies
they found in Carvajal's administration of the Title IV programs. This termination and fine
proceeding was initiated after Carvajal was given an opportunity to respond to the findings of
To begin and continue participation in Title IV, HEA programs, an institution must
demonstrate its capability to properly administer the Title IV programs in which it participates.
34 C.F.R. § 668.16. Simultaneously, an institution which participates in these programs is also
obligated to act with the competency and integrity necessary to qualify as a fiduciary. 34 C.F.R.
§§ 668.82(a), (b) (1993). The regulations governing these programs clearly provide that any one
violation of a regulation, regardless of significance, provides a basis for a termination of an
institution's eligibility. 34 C.F.R. § 668.86(a) (1993).
The senior program reviewer's overall opinion of the state of the financial aid records at
Carvajal was that they were the worst she had ever seen. She related that she found that the
student records were scattered throughout the office and were brought to her in a "piecemeal"
fashion, were not well organized, and many were incomplete. Dr. Cornielle explained to the
program reviewers that some of the missing student financial aid files had been confiscated by
CONES in 1988. The program reviewers examined student files maintained under CONES'
control in two different locations, but these files were only academic files, not financial aid files.
Before an institution can certify that a student is eligible for a Title IV loan, the institution must be satisfied that the student has a financial need. 34 C.F.R. § 668.7(a)(10) (1993). Compliance with this responsibility is documented through the institution's performance of a need analysis, a process by which the student's cost of attendance at the institution and the student's expected family contribution are evaluated to arrive at the student's financial need. 20 U.S.C. §§ 1087kk, ll; 20 U.S.C. § 1070a-6. The expected family contribution means the amount of funds which the student and his or her family may be reasonably expected to contribute toward his or her postsecondary education. 20 U.S.C. § 1087mm.
The program reviewers reported they could find no evidence that a need analysis was
performed in 53 out of the 61 sample student files. The number of deficient files was reduced at
the hearing from 53 to 11 because the parties stipulated that a need analysis had been conducted
by the loan guarantee agency in all but 11 of the original 53 files. In the case of these remaining
11 student files, the documents disclosed that Dr. Cornielle completed the School Certification
Section of the loan Application and Promissory Note. In that section a school official indicates
the cost of attendance and the expected family contribution, and then certifies the loan amount
for which the student is eligible. In nine files she indicated that the student had an expected
family contribution of $0; in two files she reported the students had an expected family
contribution of $900. However, none of the files contained any financial documents supporting
her conclusion as to what, if anything, these 11 students or their families were able to contribute
to the students' educational costs and, consequently, there was nothing to support her conclusion
of the students' financial need. See footnote 33
Dr. Cornielle explained that, in her capacity as Carvajal's financial aid advisor since 1991,
she regularly and conscientiously interviewed each financial aid applicant and, based upon the
student's responses, plus other submissions, exercised her professional judgment in determining
the expected family contribution for each student. In the process, she decided whether or not a
student was receiving money from other sources that could be applied to the student's educational
expenses. She testified she looked at the Student Activity Reports which contained financial data
about the applicant and his or her family, but she did not retain a copy for the files because she
was unaware this was required. She blames the Department for any deficiencies in the student
financial aid files on the basis that she has not received training from the Department on the
proper administration of these financial aid files. Additionally, Carvajal argued that it has never
been sent copies of the applicable regulations, Dear Colleague letters, or any other
correspondence from the Department.
I find that Carvajal's determination of the expected family contribution for each of the 11
student files examined by the program reviewers was inadequate to satisfy the need analysis
required by 34 C.F.R. § 668.7(a)(10) (1993). Without Dr. Cornielle preparing a memorandum of
her personal judgment regarding financial need, and retaining copies of suitable documentation
supporting her determination, Carvajal has not conducted a satisfactory need analysis for its
financial aid files. As such, there has been a violation of the regulation because there is no
assurance any of these student loans were made to eligible students. In arriving at this
conclusion I give no weight to Respondent's argument that the Department has failed either to
properly train its personnel to perform this function, or to provide Respondent with appropriate
guidance materials. It is the responsibility of a participating institution, and not the Department,
to ensure that the institution has the trained personnel and appropriate statutes, regulations, and
guidance materials to properly administer the Title IV, HEA programs.
After examining Carvajal's Title IV program materials and questioning Dr. Cornielle, the
program reviewers concluded that Carvajal had not established a fair and equitable refund policy.
By law, an institution, such as Respondent, which participates in the FFEL program must
establish a refund policy which provides for a refund of unearned tuition, fees, room and board,
and any other institutional charges to a student who receives Title IV, HEA program assistance
and withdraws prior to the completion of the program. 34 C.F.R. § 682.606 (1993). This refund
must be paid within 60 days of a student's withdrawal or within 30 days of the last day of a leave
of absence for a student who does not return from a leave of absence. 34 C.F.R.
§§ 682.607(c)(1), (2) (1993). Further, to be fair and equitable, the refund policy must provide for
a refund which is the greatest of the amounts provided under:
When the program reviewers questioned Dr. Cornielle regarding Carvajal's refund policy,
they reported she told them that Carvajal does not refund any tuition and fees to the students.
She explained that when the tuition and fees are paid in United States dollars, they are
immediately deposited with the Central Bank, which converts them into Dominican pesos, and it
is too cumbersome to convert the funds from pesos back into dollars. Dr. Cornielle
acknowledged that during the seven years she had been administering the Title IV program, there
had been students who had withdrawn but that Carvajal had not paid refunds to, or on behalf of,
any of them. The program reviewers were not shown, and did not discover on their own, any
documentation which described Carvajal's refund policy.
Dr. Cornielle testified that Carvajal has always had a refund policy and denied telling the
program reviewers otherwise, but she admitted that Carvajal has never had an opportunity to
apply its refund policy to a FFEL participant. She then referred to several paragraphs in the
Medical School Catalog which address Carvajal's Tuition Refund Policy. She recounted that
since 1991 there has been only one student who was entitled to, and was paid, a refund.
Additionally, she was aware of one other student who had been on a type of leave of absence
and, rather than refund the tuition to the student, Carvajal held the money for the student in some
form of informal escrow account.
I find that Carvajal has not adopted a fair and equitable refund policy which complies
with the regulations. Because Carvajal is not located in a state and is not accredited by a
recognized accrediting agency, it was required to implement a refund policy which guarantees a
pro rata refund to withdrawing students. The policy set out in the Medical School Catalog
requires that requests for refunds must be submitted 30 days prior to the beginning of the term,
and states that there will be no pro-rated refunds given once classes begin. This is contrary to
the provisions of 34 C.F.R. Part 682, Appendix A. Furthermore, it appears that in the one
instance where Dr. Cornielle could recollect that a student was entitled to a refund, Carvajal
elected to hold the tuition funds in trust for the student rather than make a refund payment. In
either event, Carvajal has not implemented a fair and equitable refund policy.
Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy
To be eligible to receive Title IV funds, a student must be currently enrolled and must be
maintaining satisfactory academic progress in the student's course of study. 34 C.F.R.
§ 668.7(a)(5) (1993). To ensure this obligation is met, the institution must establish, publish and
apply reasonable standards for measuring whether a student is maintaining satisfactory academic
progress. An institution's failure to establish a satisfactory academic progress policy
demonstrates its lack of administrative capability. The program reviewers found that although
Carvajal had a stated academic progress policy, it was deficient in that it failed to contain a
number of essential elements set out in 34 C.F.R. § 668.14(e) (1993). The missing elements
were the following:
The program reviewers examined the provisions of a document entitled General
Academic Policy and found it did not cover the above described elements of a satisfactory
academic progress policy. During the hearing, Carvajal presented evidence of additional school
policy which was contained in a document entitled Student Rules. I have examined the relevant
portions of both documents, General Academic Policy and Student Rules, and I agree with SFAP
that neither of them contain sufficiently complete, unequivocal elements of a satisfactory
academic progress policy to satisfy the requirements of the regulation. Accordingly, the evidence
has not documented that Carvajal has established, published, or applied reasonable standards for
measuring whether its students are maintaining satisfactory academic progress.
In summary, I find that SFAP has met its burden of proving that Carvajal failed to
conduct the appropriate need analysis for 11 of its students, failed to implement and apply a fair
and equitable refund policy, and also failed to implement and apply a satisfactory academic
progress policy. These inadequacies illustrate that Carvajal lacks the administrative capability to
administer the Title IV, HEA programs, and that Carvajal has failed to act in a manner consistent
with its fiduciary obligations to its students and the Department. The seriousness of these
violations warrants termination of its eligibility to participate in the Title IV, HEA programs.
Taking into consideration that I am terminating Carvajal's eligibility to participate in
Title IV programs, which I consider to be a significant punishment in and of itself, the mitigating
effect of its status as a small school, and the absence of any evidence of fraud or other
malfeasance by its administrators, I have determined that a fine is not appropriate in this case.
Accordingly, I am not assessing a fine against Carvajal for the substantiated program violations.
2. Carvajal failed to implement a fair and equitable refund policy.
3. Carvajal failed to develop a satisfactory academic progress policy.
Judge Richard F. O'Hair
Dated: December 16, 1996
A copy of the attached initial decision was sent by certified mail, return receipt requested to the
Arcadio J. Reyes, Esq.
1150 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Denise Morelli, Esq.
Office of the General Counsel
U.S. Department of Education
600 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-2110