unitea states s;A8 GenexdAccomthgOfIice Washington, D.C. 20548 : Heath, ~NMSO~ and Human,Seryicesomision B-277901 septernber 15,199? The Honorable Bill Fkist tZh&mm, . Education Task Force CommWeeontheBudget lJmedstatessenate Subject: Educaiion Pro- Maior IssuesAffecting PoStSeCOndZY Education, @hoobto-%brk. and’ypath &nDlOvmentPrograms This korrespondence provides iufonnation requestedby the committee’s Education Task Force on July 18,1997,smnu&&g work we have completed from 1990through 1997on pos@econdaryeducalion, school-@-work, and youth employment traMng issues. In addition today we are separat&y report&g on prepara;tory education issues1 Thesemat&a& may be useful as the ComnWee continues to explore problems in the American education Mrastructure and in Mfonningthefederalgovemm ent about its role in address& them OlMning a postsecondaq educationis becoming even more essential to students’future earning power, while the cost of a postsecondaryeducation is rising rapidly, contributing to the diffk&y of students affording a postsecondazyeducation. In addition, some federal programs designed to h@ educationally and economically disdvanm youth enter, stay in, and complete their postsecondaryeducation or noncollege-boundyouth obtain aNemathworksMRshmenotEveduptotheirexpecMions. Thelimited efkWeness of these programs has contributed to the dif6culty of some at-risk youth obtain&g a postsecondaryeducation. In &?itio~ the Department of Education the principal federal manager of most of these progmms, has had problems in implement and m student 1 Education PrQgmms and Secondazv E&xz&ion Programs GAm97912B P ostsecOnborg Edllcatim Prcwhcts E277901 financialaidprograms,asweUasmanaghgtheprograxus. Thishasledusto identify its student &ancial aid programs as high risk because of vulnerabilities to waste, fraud, abuse,and m&management In our past work, we have not only &cussed problems that kept some of these programs from meeting their statutom objectives, but also identiCed ways to improve the programs. We discuss some of these problems, as well as congressionaland agencyactions to address them, in enclosure I. Enclosure I id-es and orgarhs the mqjor issues concerning our previous work on postsecondaryeducation, school-&work, and youth employmeut tmining programs. For each issue, we have summarized our work, including major conclusions and recommendations,and the action taken by the Congress or agencies. A list of relevant u@or GAO products appears in enclosure IL We are sending copies of this correspondenceto the chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Commit& on the EMgeh the secretaries of Education and Labor, other congressionalcommittees, and others who l~~aybe inMested. Ifyouoryourstaffhavearryquestions,orwishtodiscuss~materialfurther, please call me at (202) 612-7014.I@jor contributors include Jay Eglin, Ass&ant Director, and Chuck Shexvey. Carlotta C. Joyner Director, Education and Employment Issues Enchsures-4 2 GAWEEES97-212B PaetecondaryEduat3onPmdmts ENcLosuREI ENCLOSURE1 INFORMATION ON MAJOR POSTSECONDARYEDUCATION, SCHOOLTo-woR& AND YOUTH EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS POSTSXONDARY EDUCATIONISSUES Higher education is a growing Ame&!an indus&y with $173 billion in total expenditures and 2.6 million employeesin the 1993-94academic year. During the 199495 academic year, more than 9,9002-year and 4year colleges and vocalional and technical schools offered postsecondary education. Federal appropriation9 for n@or postsecondaryeducation programs totaled about $9.4 bilLion for Cal year 1997,and the adminissation requested about $13.9 billion for fiscal year 1993 (see endl I@. In the fall of 1994,America%higher education system enrolled 16.1 million students, in&xiing 456,000foreign students, and its schools conferred 2.2 miRion asso&& bachelor’s,master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees. From 1974to 1995,the portion of high school gMuates who attended a posBecondaxyinstit&onrose&om48toneariy62percen~ Inaddition, emrolimentincreased for nonkaditional students, such as old= students and those attending school part time The portion of the po&secondary education @pulation with one or more of these nontraditional characteristics increased from66percentin1986to69percentin1992. Since 1930,a student’s ability to afford to attend college has declined as college tuitions have xisen faster than incomes, gxant aid,2 and state funding for public dleges. In 1996,we reported that t&ion and fees at 4-year public colleges increased 234 percent during the l&year period ending with school year 1994 95; median household incomes and the consumer price index rose by 82 percent and 74 percent, respe&&y, during the same period.’ (See fig. Ll.) ?%ant aid can be fkom federal or other sources. Federal Pell grants, which represent the largest amount of federal funds appropriated for student financial aid,aremadeavail&letostudentswiththe~Snancialneed. Than Household Income and 164,Aug. l&1996). 3 GA--97-212R Por&econd~ Education Pmdncte ENcLota.RE I ENcL0suIa1 FTpllrr! x Ll: hold lncorn Prices. School Years 1980-81to 199596 - ‘3oQr %Q- aQ- YSQ - loo - ifm lsel 19g 1m 1981 1905 1986 1967 1986 lms 1990 1991 1992 ls93 1991 19% 9ebodrrB@milQ Since 1987at 4year public colleges and unhrsities, the mix of fell grants and federal student loans’has shifted iTom 67 percent loans and 33 percent grants to 85 percent loans and 15 percent grants in 1996,as shown in figure I.2. yrt\e two largest federal student loan programs are the Fedsal Family Education Loan Rogram (FF’EW} (the govemment guarantees loans provided by private- sector lenders) and the Federal Direct Loan Rogram (EDLP) @he government makes loans directly to porrowers>. 4 GAOAEES-9%212B Posbccondvg Edawstion Psoducta ENCLOSURE I ENCLOSURE1 . ~qm 1.2: Distribution of Pell Grants and Fed& Student hns to Studen@at 4-Y&r Public Colleees and Universities As college tuition and fees continue to increase, more students and the& families are borrowing. The total volume of new federal student loans more than doubled between 1987 and 1995,Kohl $9.7 billion to $23.1billion- The growth of the higher education industry has not been without its problems. Socioeconomically and eduaonally dhdvantaged high school students fhn low-income families and certain ethic groups attend and complete college at much lower rates than other students. Concernsalso exist about the Quality of college education being provided and the managementof higher education pmgrams and funds by the Depar&mentof Education, schools, lenders, loan guaranty agencies, and loan servicing companies. These are the key issues that xtUst be addressed if the United States is to remain i,ntexnationallycompetitme and the predominant world source of a quality college education in the fut~~. The following discusion involves Eve xn@or themes einmrhg access, in- 5 GAWEEHS-97.212E Postauo ndary EdnaSiom prod=ta ENcLosuRE I ENCLOSUREI retention, improving quality, increasing affordability, and improving !inancial aid program managementand oxmight I Ensuring Access A primary objective of federal postsecondaryeducation progmms is to ensure access for qualified students. Although the rate of college enrollment among highschooZ~~hasrisensteadtilyinthelastdemde,awidedisparitgin enrollment exists among certain racial groups and income levels. For example, in 1993,67 percent of high sqhool gmdmtes were em&d in postsecondary educations However, white students enrolled at a higher rate (69 percent) than black students (56 percent), and students from higher income families enrolled at a higher rate (86 percent) than those from lower income families (45 percent). Thus, to narrow the enrollment gaps for students in these ra&l and income \ groups, it is necesmy to encourage and help students Born minority and low- incomefarniliestoearnbe#ergradesinhigh~~ltopreparebetterfor college or to Snd a better way to help less prepared students &om minority and lower income families to enroll in postsecondaryeducations Generally, the federal government has addressedcollege accessthrough an axray of student financial aid programs. The availability of federal grant, student loan, work study, and naiional semice financiaI aid allows eligible students from all income levels the opportunity to pursue a postsecondary education. Even students who have not obtained a high school diploma (or equivalent) may quali@for federal student aid if they can demonstrate an ability tobeneiitfromstudyingatapostscondaryschool. Cextain federal student aid programs are designedto help selected populations, particularlythosewiththegreatestfinancialneed,marereadiIyobtainaccessto higher education. Examples include the TRIO and SupplemenW Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) programs. TRIO is a series of programs that provides remedial and support servicesto dMMu@ged undergraduate students before and after they are enrolled in college. -A po&secondazy education instbtion’s most dedy students receive SEOGS Thesegmnfsare distributed &st as supplementalaid to students who receive Pelt grants, and Our past work has addresseda se&s of topics on coJlegeaccess. Tikis work includes a 1992report in which we concluded that interest subsidy payments to 6 GAMU3HS-9%tl2B P 4StSOCOllw Edaeation bJdUCt3 ENCLUSUREI~ ENcLOsuREI lenders on the guaranteedstudent loans they make or hold could be reduced to s2mthegovernm ent money, yet allow student access. pVe’ako reported on the useof~~targetedto~~students,6earlybenestsandcosts related to Americas and the controls in place at the Department of Education to prevent student financial aid payments to ineligible noncitizns~ In 1991we reported, for example,that most SEOGfunds go to the intended recipients.8 However, we also found that the amount of SEOG funds that students receive may dependmore on which schools they attend, rather than on theirfinancialneeds. Thisismo&yduetothe~ySEOGfundsaredistributed among the nation%schook Schoolsannuallyreceive SEOG funds largei: xi thetiasisoftheamorrntoffundstheyhavereceivedinpastyears,butthismay not ne reflect the relatk need of the students they curren@ enrolL We suggestedthat the Cmgress consider amendingthe Higher Ekiucation Act of l.966, as amended,to more equitab4 distribute SEOGfunds. No such action hasbeentakentodate,however. In 1992,we analyzd the poten& impact of lowexing the federal subsidy paid to commercial lenders who make or hold &uaranteedstudent loans@ The Congresswas expIoring al&math ways to cut student aid costs without &7exMyaf&lingstudent@accesstoloancapitaL Somewereconcemedthat reducing the federal subsidy rate would lead to a din&i&ted supply of guaranteedloans from commercial lenders. Our ana?y& showed that the subsidyrate~the~ewas3~percent-probably~~thantherate necesary to retain most lenders in the program. We recommendedthat the Educatlom Infoxmation on Minor&-Ta~eted Scholars&q (G2iO/HEHS 9417, Jan 14 1994). 5-222,Aug. 29,1995). Verification Helns Preven Student Aid Pavments to Inelis!ibIe Noncitizens (GAO/EBHS97-153, A$6,1991). . ODDOmGrantsAre @SlMoti Student Loans. Lower Subs&v am ts Could Achieve Savimzs . Act!esg without A,&!mm (GAO&-7Jin~ 1992). 7 GA--97-212E p4J6mson* Eduution pradoets ENcL-osuREI ENCLOSURE1 subsidy rate be reduced to 3.0 percent. Subsequently, the Congress reduced the subsidyrateto2.5percen~sa;vingthegwernm ent about $165 million without affecting students’accessto loans or enrollment in school. Raising Retention About one-third of college freshmen drop out before they begin their second year, and only about half eventually gmdmte. College students’abiliw to stay in school (referred to as persistence) through graduation varies considerably depending on their high school grades, Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, f&m& income, and ethnicity. Collegesalso vary greatly in retaining studenk For example, schoolsthat have highly selective admission standards (accept freshmanwfrowereinthetop10percentoftheirhighschool~~drrSS) had an averagef persistence rate of 90.7 percent in 1997. In contra& schoolswith opendmMons standards (accept an high school graduatesuptolimitsofcapacitg)hadanaveragepersistencerateofo~53.9 percent in 1997. Persktence inpos&econdary . educalionis important for several reasons. From a student’s m ,thosewhopeMstthroughgraduaUongreatlyincrease their lifetime eamingspotdial. In 1994,a college graduate eamed 73 percent niore per hour than someonewith a high school diplo- On the other hand, students who dropped out of college may have done little to improve their earnin@ potentid Yet students who dropped out may have incurred additional Gnancialliabilities from student loan debt and are more Ukely to default on their student loans. A student’s faihxe to persist therefore, can be costly not 0114for the student,but also to the government and for society as a whole. Federal student aid programsmay help many students stay in-college who might hm otherwise dropped out for financial reasons. In addition one component of the TRIO pro-dent Support Services-provides funding to higher educationinH&utions to help them improve their retention and graduation rates for low-income students or those with disabilities. fn.1998, the Department is requestingabout $169.9million to help app- 179,500 participants. This program, however, can help only a small portion of students who might benefit from such a&stance. Partly becauseof the rather few federal dollars dkected to helping students persist in college,we have done little work on student retention We have reviewed the combinationof federal student aid grants and loans provided to students and the restructuring of student# financial aid packages to help improve the paistence rates of minority and low-income students For 8 GAWBEBS-97-212R pastaeeondug Edllution produca3 ENCLO~I ENcLosuREI example, our 1995 analysis of low-income students showed that a 81,000 increase in grant aid reduced the probability that a low+ncome student would dropoutandthstanequalincreaseinloanaiddidnothavea~~ siguificzutt effect on these students’per&tence.lo In @Won, giving students most)ygrantsintheirfirstyearofcollegeandgradually~~loanaidin subsequentyears (refemd to as &&loading grants) could sign&antIy reduce the dropout rate, according to our work. Although the Department of Education thought that frontioading held prom@ it said it may need specific legislaM! authoxiw before considering a &onWadingpilotprogram TheCongreshasyettogivetheDepax4mentthat authority. In additiol& federal financial aid programs can help students enroned in dlege who need remedial education. For example, we report& that 13 permt of aid p~dedtoasamgleof~schoolswenttound~~enronedin~least one remedial cousxU Eelping to ensure that poslsondary institMons provide students with qgality education or t&ning worth the lime, energy, and money they invest has traditionally been a responsib%ty shared by school accreditation agencieq the states, and the Department of Education. Ekcause school operations, curricula, and instrucfion are state and school respon&biEtiesrather than federal ones, the Department relies on accMi&g agenciesand states to determine and enforce standards of program Qualitg. The Departmeng as specified in the Eigher Education Act of 1965,as amended,(1) approves inclivi~ accrediWg agencies as the reliable authoxitiesto help ensure that schools prcrviae quality education . . and tmining and (2) certifies schools by focusing more on their B and financial capabilities and soundnessrather than evaluating the ipality of the education they pzWde. Since the late 198Oqthe Congressand the pos&econdary education community bavebeenqu3iteconcernedabo~thequaiitgofinstiftrto~inthepropridarg (prbate for-profit schools) sector. Although proprietary schools make ain Aid Could Reduce kw-Income 23,1995). *dent FWancial Aid: Federal m Awarded to Students Taking -echaI . Courses (GAOEIEHS-97-142,Aug.?:, 1997). 9 GAOIHEHS-9%212E Pomseconm Eduution Pmda~cta mcLosuRE1 ENcxBuREI important contribution to the nation’s economic competitiveness by providing occupational tmining to those who are not college bourld, some proprietary school operatorshave enliched t-h- at the expense of economically t%sadvmtagedstudents,while providing little or no education in return. Faced with large debts and no new marketable skills, these students often default on their loans. Default rates for proprietary school students peaked at around 41 percent in 1990,when the student loan default rate for all pos@econdaIy institutions meraged about 22 percent. In 1991,the government paid lenders $3.2 billion to cover loan defaults-more than triple the amount paid in 1987. Because of the large number of loan defaults and our work and that of Education’s Of&e of Inspector General (OIG), the Congress and the Department have taken several actions to address this problem. For example, the Higher EducationArnenhene of 1992 addressed program integrity concerns by including provisions to encourage the states to more aclhely oversee schools,and the Student Loan Default Prevention Miative Act of 1990 allowed the Departmentto begin barring postsecondarg schools with exceptionally high default rates from federally guaranteed student loan programs Sincethe default prevention inithth began in 1991,Education has barred 672 schools (most of which were proprietaxy schools) from participating in federal student aid programs,and the default rate for propriefary schools has dropped to 21.1 percent Defaulted loans have totaled about $2.6 billion ammlIy the Iast couple of years, but the govemm em’stotaldrelatedto defaultedloans~beend~,~$$249millionin1996,mainlybecauseof subsequentefforts by the Department and its acthities to collect on these loans after default claims had been paid to lenders. OurworkoninsWtionalqualityinthelast5or6yearshasconcentrated mainly on the Department’sefforts to reduce loan defaults and in- the collection of default& loans and related issues. For example, in 1995,we reviewedthep~theDepartmentusestobarschoolswithhighdefault rates &an participating in federal student aid programs.= Many schools were sub&ntMy delayingany punitive actions against them, our work showed, by ~administrativeappe&andMvsuits&imingthatthedatausedto compute their default rates were inaccurate. While theirappeals and lawsuits are being adjudlm these schools are allowed to continue in the programs and their students are receiving federally guaranteed loans, subject&g the . Iam-0 . . . ns in sanctio~g %tudentLoanDef&& De~artmento Ed caixo J+oblem Scha (GAOhlEEISQW9,Jf, 1; 199;. 10 GAOIHEHS-97-2 12B P a5t8econd8ry Ednc8tion Produets ENCLOSURE1 ENcLostm31 gvent to possible additional default costs and risking these students‘ abili@ to continue their education and causing them to .&ur additional debt. We recommendedthat the Congress give the Department the authority to hold schools liable for the costs of defaults on any loans made duxingthe appeals process and to require these schools to post a performance bond as a condition of BBng an appeal. Although Education has included such provisions in its proposals for the reauthoxization of the Higher Education Act in the 106th Congress,the pm have yet to be fohed to the Congress. In June 1997,we reported that stud- are obt&ing federal student financial aid (grants and subsidizedloans) for trait&g at prop&&y schoolsfor ocapations with a surplus of trained woricezs.” In the 12 statesincluded in our review, we found that in &SC&year 1995, $273miliion in federal funds sub&&d the train@ of over lrZ,OOOproptietary school studentsin occupationswith projected labor supply suxpluses We recommendedthat the Congreeto help M students understand the usefulnessof recent schoolgradu&m =&s+qand the Student Right-to-mow Act requiring proprietaryschoolstoreportrecent graduat&&aining-reMedjobplacement rates Wealso recommended that Education ensue that pnxpe&~ students have accessto empbyment and earnings projections regarding their chosen trabdng field in their locality. Education was receptive to our recommendationq however, it may be too early for either the Congressor the Department to have acted on the recommendations. EscaMng college tuition and related costs and student debt levels have become an issue . . of growing con- to students and their families, coll?ge -m=U ovemment policymakters. As we reported in 1906,&om 1980to 1995,the averagetuition charged undergraduate students at 4year public COnegeS ad lrnmeFsitiesincreased 234 perce~&” During approximately the same period, median household income increased 8Qercent and the cost ofMngrose74per&t Ascollegecostshaveconlinuedtorise,statesupport has funded a dimin@hedporfion of public colleges’revenues,and increasesin federal funds for grants have not kept pace with tuition increases,resulting in dents for w 1’GAO/HEHS9M64,Aug. 16,1996. 11 GAWHEES-9?-212B Paetsecondary Edacation Proancta ElNcLosuREI ENcLOsuREI students having to rely more heavily on student loans. This shift from grants to loans is contributing to students leaving college with rapidly increasing debt levels. Agrowingnumberof~andschoolshavebegun~measurestodeal with escakhg college costs. For example, 17 states have implemented college savings or prepaid tuition plans through which families may prepay tuition at current levels to avoid higher payments when their children reach college age and enroll. Four more states will have college sasGngsor prepaid t&ion plans in place by the end of 1997,and the remaWng29statesareconsld~such plans. Examples of 0th~ measurestaken or planned to deal with rising college costs include shortening the time neededto eam a degree and limit@ tuition increasestotheincreaseinthecostofliving. Noclearconsensusexists, however, on how to best make college more affordable. The federal govemm ent has not directly addressedthe issue of how much tuition and fees colleges charge their students. The federal &ategy in response to~co~egecostshasbeento~increasethe~o~toffunds as&lable for federal student mcial aid pro~mostly through loans. For example, the Eigher Education Amendmentsof 1992greatly expanded accessto student loans for students and their families In addition, the recent budget agreement contains a number of tax beneGtand other provisions designedin part to help Americans pay for higher education Our work on college affordabili~ has involved analyz@ infozmation on the extent of the problem and identi@ing examplesof measurestaken or planned to address affordability. For example, our 1995report reviewed the fktors corltzibutingtoin~ . in tuition costs at 4year public colleges and tmmdtks for the l&year period ending with the 19W-95school year. Rises in schools’expenditum, primarily for B s&&s, and schools’greater dependenceon tuition as arevenue source, according to our review, were mostly responsible for the increase in tuition. St&es vary widely in the amount per student they appropriate for higher education, we found, and this in ban has remlted in widely varying amounts of tuition that schools charge among the states-fi-om $1,524in Hawaii to $5,521Wmont in school year 1995-95.The nationwide average tuition charged that year was $2,855. GA-97.212B PutBccoud8ry Educ8tiou Pmducts ENcLOsuREI ENcLosuREI ln 1995,we reviewed the states’efforts to encouragefamilies to save for college through college savings or prepaid tuition program~.‘~ $even states had such programs in 1995, and at least a dozen other states were considering implementing prepaid tuition programs. Most participants were middle and upper income familiesglower income families were underrepresent& probably due to their lack of disaetionary income. Uncertain@about the pot.entiaI federaltax~f~ptogram~~~was~somestatestodelay implementing such programs, according to our review. The Congresspassed a lawin1996to~~thetaarissues,and~hascon~toseveralother states subsequently est.&w these kinds of programs. The Department’s managementand owsight of the many student financial aid programshasbeenach&lengingtaslcmaWybecauseitinvolvesmanydi&rent m millions of students, thousands of schools and lenders, multiple guandg agencies and loan semicers, and numerous private entities. The Department’s OIG, congredonal committees, we, and others We weR documented the Dqmr&nent’s his@y of mismanagement,abuses,and other management and ove&ght problems regarding these programs These concerns, ixmpled with the signScant amount of federal dollars at risk, contributed to our decision in 1992 to design&e the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP)a%i.gh-riskkea BiIlionsofFFEUVundshavebeenhighly vulnerable to fmud, waste, abuse, and went. In 1996,we expanded our considemtion of high risk to all of the student &uncial aid programs in Education’s purview. As expected with the s&d&ant amount of federal funds appropriated for student Enancial aid and the Depsrtment’s history of poor man&ement and GscaI accountdility, we have focused considerable resources in reviewinghow the Depatment managesthese program. (See encL I& which shows the large number of products we have issued on these topics.) Our West high-&& series report, issued in 1997, summa&es and updates both our continuing concerns about the Departmentfs vulnerabilities in mmaging and overseeingthe student aidprogramsaswellasprogressinstrengtheningthep~~‘dscaland management controls and sgstems16 The following discussion hi@lights State TbitionRenmnent Romam~ 1%bh-Risk Series: Student FMancial Aid (GAO/HR-97-11,Feb. 1997). 13 Gim97-2l2B PutBecon~ Education Plwduct.6 ENcLosuREI ENCLOSUEE I some of our concerns about Education’sprogram -0~ information resources management,and financial managementof s&dent financial aid as well as some of the Department’sactions to remedy them. . . . AdmmHr&on In1995,werepoxt&thatguaranQagenclesoperat@underF’FELPmightbe in&ned,undevxtain&cumshnces,tospendpartoftheirreserme funds on unnw expenditure9 for additional staE; the purchase of faciUtieq fur&me, computers, and the like; or higher sabies.” These reserves, which arefederaMmdsthatthegovemm ent may recover, would then not be available to the federal govemment or to the agenciesto cover losses on defaulted loans that cannot be collected. To prevent some of these abuses,the Department sub~~~issued~o~restrictingthetgpesof~~tha;tthe gwrantyagenciesmaymake. , In 1995,we found that Education did not adequat@ overseethe FFELP’s infoxmaBon q7stem’scomputersecmily, resultingin the system having serious secmityweahessesthatcouldleadtounauthorWdaccessto !3eamveFFELp data such as student loan i&s? Nor were controls in place to prevent -CtedaccesStOseveral-sgstemSO~fil~pOSSib~resuEting in unauthorhed people alter& records affecting monefary transactions. We recommended . . that the Department develop and implement a computer security admmMr&on program to omsee the sear&y of FFELP’s computer operalions and made other recommendationsregardingwe&messeswe found. The Department fully agreed with all of our recommendationsand has taken the actions necessary to correct the problems we ideMiSed. To address many of its long-standingmanagementand oversight problems, the Department recently began a m@r meerjng effort hewn as Easg Access for Students and Institutions, or Project EMI, which will redesign the entb student aid program delivery w Education intends for this system to include management and control functions, includhg accounting, auditjng and program reviews, and quality control procedures such as computer edit checks and applicant data checks. Although members of the higher education communityareparticipatinginthisproject,ithashada’tentatmestartbecause 17Guaran~Anencv Fhances (GAO&lEHS9&8lR, Mar- 11,1996). *edend Familv Education Loan Information Svstemz Weak Commster Controls rncrea9eRisk of unauthorized Acce!Ss . . Data ~GAOMMD-97-117, to SensltlE June l2,1995). 14 GAomEEs-97.212E P olkaxxondary EdlIution Pmducts ENcLusuREI EIucLosuREr Education’s top management’scommitment to it has been uncertain The Department has not determined how long it will be before Project E%SI is fully implemented but expects it to be a long-term underta&ng. As new student aid programs were implemented during the past 30 years, the Department developedseparatedata systems to support each of these programs= ItnowhasdatasystemsforF’FElP,theFederalDirectLoan Rogmm (FDLP), the Pell grant program, and camp-based programs, and additional systemsfor other purposes Over the years, we have identiiled a number of problems asso6aM with the Department’s data systems and its ineffm use of these systems. In 1995,for example, we reviewed the Department’s use of its data systems to ensure compliance with federal requirements and prevent the me of defaults and abuse? The Department did not eBe@vely use its data systems, mulling in approximately 43,500dligible students receMng over $133 million inloansduringSscalyearsl932through1992. Wealsofoundtha&forschool yearsl~through1~morethan48,ooOstudentsmayhave~ PeRgrant~entsandover35,OOOstudentsmayhaveinappropxi&@ remived grants while attending two or more schools concurrently, which is prohibited under the program To address some of these problems, in 1994 the Department implemented the NationalStudent~D~SystemCNSISS),wfrichisacentralrepositargto receive and store student flnanclal aid data for all student Bnancial programs in onecentrald&abase. NSLDSwasdesignedinparttoensurethataccur%eand complete data are mailable on student loan indebtedness and to screen student aid applicants for prior defaults and grant award overages. In 1995,the Department reported that using NSLDS to prescreen loan applicants had prevent& l25,OOO previous defa&ers from receMng new loans, avoiding as much as $310 million in future defaults. This also enabled Education to deny about $?5million in Pell grants to ineligible students. Although NSLDSwas envisionedas a central repository for student iinancisl aid ~itisnot~c~~lewithmostofthestudentfinancialaidsgstems . - . . . mrou) . dent PinancUl A& Data ot F’uhv Utihzed to Identjfv Awarded Loans and Grants (~O/HEJB95449, July 11,1995). 15 GA--97-2l2B P ostaecondarg Education Pmdllca ENcLosuREI ENCLOWREiI Most of these systems are operated by different contractors and have different types of computer hardware, opera&g systems, and ot&r-incompatible features. Therefore, to allow NSLDSto accept data &om these other syskms, Education and its data providers currently use over 300 computer formatting and editing programs. TbisprocessiscuWxsome, expensh, and unrekable. In July 1997,we recommended that Education develop, by June 30,1998, a Department-wide qstems architecture as a hunework to allow compathility am0ngalIthesesgstems” TheDepartmentagreedwithour zecommendation Althoughitistooeatlytodeterminewfratactionshavebeentakeninresponse to our recommendations, continued support from senior&@ Department managementwillbeessentialtoensureremedialactions. The Higk Educalion Act of 1966, as amended, requhs the Department to prepare annual financial statements for FEW and requires these statements to beaudited. ThisauditresponsibilityhasbeenexpandedwiththeCbief F5Iunclal of6cersAct of 1990,which requhs agenciesto prepare consoli~ oragen~deGnancialstatemen& Rscalyear1994wasthethiqdyearthese Enanclal statements were prepared and audited, and, as in previous years, we reported that auditors found that accuracy and reliability concerns about data supporting the statements continued to prevent the Department &om reasonably e&n@ingthe FFETPs costsa The audit also foundtbatthe Department does not have qstems or pmcedumlnplacetoensuretbe accuracy and validity of individual billing reports submit&d by guaran@ agenciesand lenders. As a result, the Depariment’s financial statements could not be given a kle& audit opinion. In responseto these and other finclings, Education has begun c@recWe actions. F~~~e,ithas~effortstodevelopac~~~planto~~ dataintegritgissues,anditisdevelopingguidanceforextenralauctitarstouse that reqdres them to test guarmty agencies’billings for default payments. The Depaltulentisalsoreplaclngitsanti~financlalmanagexlentsgstemswlth *dent I Financial AidInformatio~~ &stems htechre Neededto fmDlmTe Proaams’ Efficiency (GAOMBD-97422, July g, 1997). aal AMit. F ederal Familv Education Loan Rosram 95rlan’ - s EnancWI Statementsfor Fiscal Yeats 1994 and 1993 @AOLAIMD&, Feb. 26, 1996). 16 GAWEEES-97-212B -. F+atsccondsry Ednation Prodncll ENcLosuREI EN-1 a new integrated Bnancial system called Education’s Central Automated processing System. These and other actions Education-is taking indicate that it is committed to resolving its hart&l managementproblems. A sustained effort, however, .wiil be critical $o :theDepartme.nt’shaving sound financial management and reliable financial information. SCHOOLTO-WORKA.NDYOUTH EMPLOYMEiNTISSUES The United States provides ex&Mve opportun&y for collegeeducation for a large proportion of its youth Our colleges and urdvees are the envy of the world Yet with workforceq&i~ becoming a key element of U.S. competitiveness, the education and tr&ning of noncollege youth have become 9n~crltlcaL Inthelate198OsJhebasicskBsgapbetweenthe qu&Waiions businessneeds for its employees and those of entry-level workers was widening. Jobs were demar&ng increa&@y ski&d workers, while many workers were inad- prepand for the woruorce. Our work on the traMlion of the nation’s youth from school to work reviewed the extent to which the U.S. edu~onal system focuses on youth not planning to go to college. -Some of our principal compeBtor nations have national policies that emphasize preparing noncollege youth for employmentp In the United States in 1988,9 million of 33 million youth 16 to 24 years old would not havethe skills that employers were demanding. In addition, only 15 percent of youth who entered the ninth grade completed high school and went on to obtain a 4-year college degree, our work showed. The mow-86 percent-got a job, obtained a 2-year degree, dropped out of high school or college, or did not enter the workforce. In 1993, four states had begun to acknowledge this deficiency in their schools and started to develop comprehensiveschool&+work tcan&ion systen~~ Thesesystemshadfourinterre&& components: - processes for deveJopingacademic and occupational competen&s, - career education and development, .l?mmine Noncoll@ outh o Em~lovment in the United States and F&e&n Countries (GAO&&-& May ll,l990). Are hvelo~irv New Strateties to Sept 7, 1993). 17 GAWEEES97412B Postsecondary Edoution Producta EiNcLosuRE I EIKLmmEr - extensive links between school systems and employers,and - meanh@ul workplace experiences. In 1994, the Congress passedthe School-to-WorkOpportunitiesAct to encourage . * more states to develop such systems. In fiscal year 1998,the eon is asking for $400million to continue to support the implementation of schooI--work systemsthrough partnerships with states, localities, and the pm sector. This is the samelevel of funding as in 1997 (see encL IV), and the partnerships are jointly admhWe& by the Depar&nents of Education and Labor. Programs to improve the skills of the nation’s med youth include title II-C of the Job Training Parhr&ip Act (JTPA) ($130million for fiscal year 19B8), the summer youth program ($871 million), and Job Corps ($1.2 bitlion). The summer youth progmm provides summerjobs for over a half miJlion low- incomeyouth,pnmidingthemwithwarke;reperiencetousetbeslrinn~ey~ leaned in school and, for some, the oppor~Mty to work on their reading and mathskllls. AlthougbthisprogramisgeneralIyviewedassucce&ulbecauselt provides youth with work experieuce, the remedial education component has not been consista@ applied nationwide. In additioq eEectivenessevaluation studies have not been conducted on this program. The . J’IFA youth program operatesyear round providing skill train@ to dsadvantaged, out~f-school youth In 1990,this program sexvedmore job- ieady and less jobready youth in proportion to each segment’spresence in the eligible populatiot+ but d&par&s existed in the &ces provided these two groups, according to our work Those who were less job ready (and likely mo~inneedof~~services)weremorebikelytogdlessintensive semlceq those who were more job ready recehd more intensh servicers Amendments to JTPA in 1992addressedthis issue by requ&hg comprehensive needs assessmentsof all new program participants, m the lowest intasi~ services for those for whom they were most appropriate. More recently, the impact of this program has been questioned;26 in response, the Labor Department is working with local programsto adopt “best-practice” approaches to improve progran results . partnershn, A& . and &l’lD~OVID& Outcomes (GAO/EEHS-W, Mar. 4,19Q6). 18 GAWHEES-97-2uBPoatacamWyEducationFmducts ENcLMuREI EbmlosuE?lEI For those youth most severeIy d&advantaged-especially school dropoWob Corps provides an opporhmity, away Mm their home qwimnu~ts, to obtain a highschooldegreeor~~andoccupationalsldn~inseveralareas, Thisprogram’shighcostandmixed~havecsused~~~~onits effective~ess.~ Job Corps spends, on average, about $15,300m each participant-four times the $3,700spent by the JTPA youth pmgrau~ Although 59 percent of Job Corps partkipants were placed in jobs (and another 11 percent emolkd in further education programs), about half of the jobs obtained by students from six centers we visited were low skill-such osfast food worker-and not related to the Job Corps traWng, according to our review. Jn ~~~aboutaquarterof~~~drogpedoutof~programinthefirst 6odays,andabout#percentofprogramfundsatthesixcenoerSwevisited werespenton~~whodidnotcompletetheir~o~~. The36 percent of participants who completed their-4 an averagecost of $26~1~had better outcomes-they were f5ve times more likely than noncompletersto obtain a training-related job; the completest also got 26 percent higher wages. Eken though 112 centers were in mn in 1996, four StateshadnocenMs Inadditio~thisprogramis~bytheLabor Department, aud not, like virtually aU other job tmining m, by the states. Asaresuit,itnotbeaswenintegtatedwithastateso~edu~onand -traMng programs as it could be. %.JobVOIDS:H.&h Costs and Mixed Results Raise Questions About Propram’s Effectiveness(GAO/HEHSX-180, June 30,1995). 19 GAWHEE!S-97SlZB P o6tsecon~Rducatioll Products ENCLO~II ENcLosuREIt CTED GAO pRoDucrs ON POSTSECONDARY EDUCATIONISSUES AND SCHOOLTCbWORKANDYOUTH EMPLOYlbENTTRAININGISSUES POSTSECO~~Y EDUCATION : Verikation Hebs Prevent Student Aid Pavmentsto . . Inebglbie Non- .* (GAO/HEHSQ?-153, Aug. 6,1QQ7). . Crime . W&ultmMeetrne - * Federal Remrtim Remirements (GAO/EIEIsQ?62, Mar. ll,lQQ7). Ixmcollm . AtbIetlcs * . status0 Eforts to Promote GenderEauQ (GAOAEHS-97-10, OCL 25, 1996). * . Education SelectedInformabon 0 Stu dentFinancialAidFIe&vedbv . 3mlrwmnts (GAOmEHs-967, Nov. 2i, 1995). Natioti Service Programs: Am * mPUSA-Earlv ProgramResourceand Information (CAOem, Aug. 2Q,lQQ5). PeR Grant Costs (GAO/HEHSQ4-216BR, Sept. 28,1QQ4). Pell Grants for Rison &n&q (GAO-224R, Aug. 5,19&I). H&her Educ&ion~ Infomution on Minoritv-Tarfeted Scholarship (GAO/HEEB 94-77, Jan. 14, 1994). student Fhancial Ai& Most Sum&mental Education Cb~~rtunitv Grants Are Awarded to Needv !%udents (GAOIEZEDQ247, Jan. 31,1Q92). StafEordStudent Loans LQW~~Sub&v Paments Could AchieveSa&u?!s Without Affecthe Access (GAOLHED-Q2-7,Jan. 6,1QQ2). . . to StudentsTakmeRem~ 20 GAOfREES-97-212R Postaeon- Edautiou Rodacts ExcLosuREi II ENCLOSUREII . . Restructukuz Stu Hipher Ed catzon dent Aid Could Reduce Low-Income student Dk~ut kte (GAOiIEHWM3, Mar. 23,1996j. . &g&r 33ducat~o: Grants Effective at creasing Minorities’ Chances of Grade (GihXEIIS~l68, May $1994). Romietam School Poorer Student Oufxomesat Schools That Relv More on Federal Student Aid (GAO/HEH%97-103, June 13,X497). ProDrietarv &!hools= Nillions &tent to Train Students for 0iersu~~Eed cu~ations (tiO/kEiS-97-104, June 10,1997). . . dentLoansDefaulRates H&XIricallv Black Colleges and Universities k, J,“z,, 19i;. . FiomPrODrietawInsW& 'OlW (GA0/T-HEEiS9&158,June 6,1996). student_Laan Problem Schools (GA&HEEIS9W9, June 1”9,1995). . . . Rates at I3stoncaIlv Black Collegesand UIUWSI-ties (dAO/HEH%M- 97’R,Mar. 9,1994). Student Financial Aid Proaxms: Pell Grant Propram Abuse (GiWI’-OSI-944, OCL 27,1993). Parent and Su~~lanental Stu en bans Volume an Default Trends for Fiscal Years 1989to 1991(GAO/HEi9&Es, SepL 22,lG2). Student FInan . dEd& Can to screen schools Before Students Recgiij &A~~91-14i~i$?7, 1991). characteristics of Defaulted Ekxrowers in the Stafford Student (GAO/ERD91+2BR,Apr. 26,1991). . - ofDefa&edBo~wer5g&tSchoo& I4oansAnslvsls Accredited bv SevenAgencies(GAO/.KRWO-178m,Sept. l2,1990). 21 GAOIHEWS.S?-ZUB PowecondaryEducationRodncts ENcLosuRElI ENcLosuREII School Accreditatiom Activities of Seven&encies ‘I&$ Accredit Ronriehq Schools (GTAO/HRD-~&~~~BR, Sept l&1990). States’Awe College Tuition (GAOIHEHS-96-21 Sept. 19,1996). Higher 1 u ‘on: PubIiccDll~ I costs (GA0/HEHs96164, Aug. l&1996). College Revenues(GAO/HEHW&lOR, Oct. 20,1995). Tuition PreDavmentPxwrams Issues (GAO/HEEISQ~16R,Nov. 4,1994). Medical-d . ts OpaonsExrst * to Make Student Loan Pavments Mangeable (GAOA&2-t, iJov. 11, 1991). Consolidated Student Loans throw Ben& But Costs to Them and the Govemmellt Grow (GAO-, June 15, 1990). htmovlnn Financial Aid hx!ram Manament and Over&&t . Student F’inancialAid Informaizo . &stems Archrtecture Needed to blDI’We (GAO&I7-1p, July 29,1991). - Is June 1997 The Results Act: Obsermtio~~ o the Department of Educatxm PIan (GAO/EiEE&7-17 July 141997). . . !%tutonr Audit Threshold Rasus ent of Education: MulliDle. Nonintegrated Svstems Ham= . &d. hwrams ent of Student F5nanaal (GAO/r-FIEwAnkID-97-132, GAOIEEES-97-212B Poetsecondary EducationProducta ENcLosuRE ENCLOSUREII Remtim of Student Loan Enrollment Status (GAOIHEHS-9744R,Feb. 6,1997). . HaMZisk . AI Series: Studeut FManaal ‘d (GAO/HE&97-11, Feb. 1997). . . mcs of Schools in Two Maior Federal Loan Jan. 31,1997). . ent . of .Educatio!E status 0 AcLionsto hIDRiVe the BianaEemeDt of dent FManml AI‘6 (GAWkl43, July l2,1996). Pro- for Land-Grant S&x& (GAO/HEEMHlR, Mar. 28,1996). Guarantv Aencv F-inances(GAO/IlEHS-MlR, Mar. 11,1996). I%umcial Au& Federal Fmilv Education Loan Prog.ramlsF’inaucial Statements for FWal Years 1994 and 1993(GAO/AlMD-9622, Feb. 26, 1996). ent of Educations Efforts bv the Office for Civil Rights to Resolve -AInericaD co- (GA0/HEHs9&23, Dec. 11,1995). Direct Student Loans (GA053ERSQ5225R,Aug. 25,1995). . . studentFhancialAi& Data atFulivutihzedtoIdeutafvhmD l-ODliat&’ Awarded Loans and Grants (:AO/HEHS-Q5449, July 11,1995). Fa eralF - ‘on . rnDut ntrols Increase~ofunauthoraedAccesstoSensl ‘tive Data (GAO/AIblDW117, June l2,1Q95). Direct Student Loam Selected ChammrMcs of Partici~atim Schools (GAOA’- HEHSQH23, Mar. 30,1995). Demrlment of Educations O~zmhmilies to Realize Savings(GAO/rHEE?S-95 56, Jan. 18,1995). Edwation Icoan Ram’s 2Wancial Statementsfor Fiscal Years 1993 and 1992(GAOhUMD44-131,June 30,1994). 23 GACUEEES97.ZleB Paasecondary Educationpmdncts ENcLosTJREII ENcLosuREIf $%udentLoans.. Milh'01)s Awarded ~DDI.ODIZ&~V. o US Nationals at Fore&n OOIS(GAO/HEXMM-28, Jan. 21,1994)! - - Education’s Student Loan Promm Controls Over Lenders NeedJmDrcmmeDt (GAO/.., Sept. 9,1993). Direct student Loan Saiinys (G.A0~9%25Fi, July 15,1993). Financial Audit Federal Familv Educat~o Loan Prcjmms Fhanaal . Statments for Fiscal Year 1992 (GAO/“93-4, June 30: 1993). HEAF 1992 Financial Condition (GAO/HE093-2lR, June 18,1993). dent LOam e lhrmlment of Edwation’s ImDlmeDtation of Direct Lending (GAOm-&6, June 10,1993). LonMtandm. Manaement Rob lems HaRIDer Miiy28,1993). Financial Audit Guaranteed Stude Loan mm’s Irhxnd Controls and &~&~.~~NeedImDrDrovemeD~(GAO~~&,Mar. 16,1993). . Dmct Loan Debate (GAOIBRD-9345R,Feb. 8,1993). Federal Data Collection: Amncies’ Use of Consistent Race and Ethnic ens (GAO~GGD-9%25, Dec. l&1992). Ban&ion Series: Education Issues (GAO/OGG9%1~ Dec. 1992). ImmsCo~dSaveBilliotiinFirst5YeamWithPm~ (GAO/HRD-Q&27,Nov. 25,1992). ~rwv SoIvenm Can the GovemmeDtRecover HEAFk First-Year -on Cost of $212 Million? (GAO/HRD4$l2?32BB; Nov. 13,1992). . . . Fees Could Reduce Stafford Student Loam FVcmmtPavment of OqgpWaon Costs (GAOIKELD-92-61;July 24,1992). Guaranteed StudeDt Loam E%~hat@ I&me& Rate Floors Could Gene Substantial Smines (GAO/HRM2-113, July 2l,lQ92). 24 GA--97.212B P -ndary Educ8uon produets ENcLosuRErI ENCLOSUREII artment of Education: ManagementCommitment Neededto h~rme Information Resources MansemeDt (GAO/LMTEG92-17, Apr. 20,1992). Stafford Student Loan Prom: CorresoondenceSchools’Loan Volume es Sharply (GAO/HRD92-52FS,Mar. 13,1992). . PerkinsStuen Loans. ODbonsThat d eth e Pqgram More Financially CoulMak Indeuenden~(&O&92-5, Dec. l2,1991). Student Loans: Direct Loans Could Save Monev and Sjm~lifv Program Amon (GAO/HRD-91-144BR,Sept. 27,199l). . PerkjnsStudentLoans eed o BetterCotro OverLoausRecoveredFrom CIosed SchooIs (GAO&91-:of Mar. 27, lib): . . . Student Loam &lhous o Dollars m Loans Awarded to hlizible BolTouwrs (GAOAmG91-7, Dec.:, 1990). . cataonBem&hons. Reasousfor Delavs in Issuance (GAO/BRD-91&R, 15, 1990). - SecondarvMarket LendersVam Widelv Student Loan Lenders: Information on the ActivUs of the First Jndermdent CornDasq (GAO/HRDam3FS, Sept. 25,199O). &Nhl-lellti &UdE!XltLOSDS:h&ibiiW! chan@SHaXEsh’&‘-Reduced hm Volume (GAO-90-149FS, Aug. 3,199O). Guaranteed Student . Practices bv Guamntv &~~~lement&l Student Loans Who Are the Lamest Lenders? (GAO/HRD90- 72FS, Feb. 21, 1990). Pell Grants: How the De&rtment of Education Estimates Promam Costs (GAOIHRD-9&73BR,Feb. 21,199O). 25 GAOIBEES-97-212BPostsecondargEducation Pmdncta ElucLosuRELI: ENcLosuREII ~CHOOLTO-WORK AND YOUTH EMPLOYBtENT TEAINING Recruit&. Trained. and Placed in Jobs Job Cam: ComDarison of Federal Program With State Youth Training IIliams (GAO/HEHs-M Mar- zs, 1996). . Job ‘hainiw Partne&m Act. Lam-Term Ramings and EmDlovment Outcomes l (GAO-, Mar- 4,1996). Jo b Co IDS: HighCostsandMixedResultsRaiseQuestionsAboutprpzrramS I (GAOAEHS-9~180, June 30,1995). SchooltoWork StatesAre DeveIo~in~NewStral&esto sre Sfa@gpts for Jobs (CAO/ERD9M39, Sept 7,1993). School to Work Linking -cation and Worksite T&r&q (GAO/fIRD91-105, Aug. 2, 1991). . ems Noncollepe Youth for &nDlovment in the United Pre~arine States and Fore&n Countrie@ (GAO/HRD-9048, May 11,199O). 26 GAWHEES-97-212E PuweconduyEdncationProducte ENCLOSURE m ExLosuREIII Appropxwions (in millions) I Pell grants #,QlQ.O $7,636.(1 supplementalEducational 683.4 683.4 opportunitsG- college work study 830.0 667.0 Pe!rkinskmls 178.0 188.0 statestudentIncen~Grants 50.0 0.0 Family EiducationLoans . 177.0 $125.6 mrect loans 600.9 lq83.3 Other aid for students 666.7 732.3 Other higher education I 287.9 276.0 t-lowarduniversity 196.0 196.0 Collegehous@ and academic 3.7 4.1 Eacmiesloans Source: Deparmat of Education Fiscal Year 1998Budget Summazy. 27 GACVEEHS-97-212B Postsecondary Education R~ncts ENcLosuREIv ENmsuREIv MAJOR SCHCXILTO-WORKAND YOUTH TRAINING PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS F’OR FISCAL YEARS 1997 AND 1998 871.0 JTPA-Youth Job Corps (104899) 28 GAOfEEHS97-212B F+0~~~0nd8ryEduutionprodacto The dret copy of a& GAO report and testimony is free. 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Education Programs: Major Issues Affecting Postsecondary Education, School-to-Work, and Youth Employment Programs
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-09-15.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)