DOCUMENT RESUME 00136 - [A0751254] (The Basic Educational Opportunity Grant Program at holliston Junior College]. B-164031(1); HRD-77-45. February 15, 1977. 4 PP. Report to Commissioner of Education, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; by Gregory J. Ahart, Director, Human Resources Div. Issue Area- Education, Training, and Employment Erograms (1100). Contact: Human Resources Div. Budget Function: Education, Manpower, and Social Services= Research and General Education Aids (503). Organization Concerned: Department cf Labor; eollistcn Junior Coll., MA; Massachusetts: Div. of Employment Security; Office of Education. Authority: Higher Education Act of 1965, us amended, title IV-A (20 U.S.C. 1070ae). Education Amendments of 1976 (P.L. 94-482). 45 C.F.R. 190.2(e). The Holliston Junior College Basic Educational Grant Program, which provides grants to needy students enrolled in a special secretarial program, was reviewed in response to charges of abuse of the program. Findings/Conclusions: As of June 1976, the college bad awarded 248 Basic Grants, totaling about $238,000, to students enrolled in what appeared to be an ineligible secretarial program established in June 1975. Holliston introduced the special secretarial program to provide welfare mothers with a marketable skill. The failure of the progr;,m to lead to a degree or certificate made the Progran ineligible. In addition, for a program to be eligi.'le, it mlust be of a- least 6-months duratioL; a semester at Holliston was 15 weeks long. Holliston has changed the program to include 30 credit hours of study, which leads to a certificate, and has made the program satiJfy the 6-month criteria. Recommendaticns: The Office of Education should determine if the college circumvented the Basic Grant eligibility criteria and whether restitution should be made to the Federal Government. The Office of Education should also determine whether the changes made in the special! secretarial program bring it into compliance with Basic Grant eligibility criteria. (SW) ,-. 4) UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE OX WASHINGTON, D.C. 20548 HUMAN RESOURCES 7 DIVISION FEB 1 B-164031 (1) The Honorable Commissioner of Education Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Dear Mr. Commissioner: In response to cha ges of abuse regaLding the Basic Edu- cational Opportunity Grant (Basic Grant) rrogram (authorized by title IV-A of the H'gher Education Act of 1965, as amended (20 U.S.C. 1070a)) at Folliston Junior Collegr, Holliston, Massachusetts, we reviewed the college's grant program which your agency administers to provide grants to needy students enrolled in eligible postsecondary educational programs. In summary, we found that as of June 1976, Holliston Jun- ior College had awarded 248 Basic Grants totaling about $238,000 to students who were enrolled in what appeared to be an ineli- gible secretarial program which had been established in June 1975. BACKGROUND To apply for a Basic Grant, students forward their com- pleted applications to a central processor, the American Col- lege Testing Program, which uses a Basic Grant need analysis formula to determine the eligibility of the applicants. Stu- dents receive eligibility reports which they submit to the school they wish to attend. The schools' financial aid officers then determine the Basic Grant award amount from an Office -f Education payment schedule. The school in turn bills the Office of Education for awards made to students and either credits the student's account or makes direct payments to the student when the furlds are received. At the time of our re- view, a student could receive up to $1,400 for each academic year. The Education Amerdments of 1976 (Public Law 94-482) raised this limit to $1,800 for 1978-1979. Holliston introduced the special secretarial program to provide welfare mothers with a marketable skill. The program was developed in cooperation with a work incentive coordinator for the Massachusetts Division of Employment Security. HRD-77-45 B-164031 I1) The Work Incentive Program is designed to provide cer- tain rec:pients of assistance under the aid to families with dependent: children (AFDC) program with training and employ- ment oportunities and with such supportive services as are necessary to move them from welfare dependency to economic self-sufficiency through Meaningful jobs. The Work Incentive Program is administered at the Federal level jointly by the Department of Labor and the Department of Health, Educationi, and Welfare. State and local welfare agencies are responsible for referring all appropriate AFDC recipients to nearby State employment ser- vice offices for enrollment in the Work Incentive Program and for providing supporting services. CERTIFICATES WERE NOT AWARDED TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE SPECIAL SECRETARIAL PROGRAM The Code of Federal Regulations (45 C.F.R. J90.2(e)) defines an eligible Basic Grant program as "a program of training at an institution of higher education which *** le.ads to a degree or certificate." A discussion of this section of the regulations with the Basic Grant program director, at Office of Education headquarters, confirmed that the failure of a program to lead to a degree or cer- tificate is, in and of itself, enough to make the program ineligible. Since inception of the special secretarial program at Holliston, none of the 248 AFDC mothers (mostly Work Incen- tive Program referrals) enrolled in the program have been awarded certificates. In order for a student to be eli- gible for a certificate at this school, the student must, among other things, have completed a minimum of 30 credit nours of study. The special secretarial program, until recently, never offered A0 hours of course study. In fact, about 87 percent of the AFDC recipients never accumu- lated more than half of the 30 credit hours required for a certificate. QUESTIONABLE LENGTH OF THE SPECIAL "ECRETARIAL PROGRAM The Code of Federal Regulations (45 C.F.R. 190.2(e)) also defines an eligible Basic Grant program as a program 2 B-164031 (1) of training at an institution of higher education which "is of at least 6 months duration." In commenting on this section of the regulations, the Basic Grant program director confirmed that a program to be eligible must be of at least 6-months' duration and that its eligibility would be question- able if a high percentage of students did not complete this minimum requirement. Of the 248 AFDC recipients enrolled in the special secretarial program at Holliston, 215, or about 86 percent, rnver enrolled in a course of study beyond one semester. A semester at Holliston is 15 weeks long--far short of the 6-month Basic Grant eligibility requirement. Although a second semester program is offered at one of the five campus locations, very few of the AFDC recipients enrolled. Only 24 of the 248 enrolled for the second semes- ter full-time and part-time (6 of whom did not complete it). Most AFDC recipients after completing the first semester, seek employmient oil their own or through the school or Divi- sion of Employment Security placement office. In fact, offi- cials at the Division of Employment Security advised us that they attempt to place the AFDC recipients before the end of the first semester. Three factors which indicate that the special secretarial program consisted of only one semester are: 1. Most recipients attended only the one-semester course. 2. Holliston's president issued an August 1976 letter to the Division of Employment Security stating that the one-semester program was being offered to provide marketable skills to work incentive mothers. 3. The school catalog for the 1976 spring semester identified the special secretarial program as a one-semester program. SCHOOL AND AGENCY COMMENTS We *. scussed our findings with Holliston Junior College officials and they agreed with us. They stressed the success- ful placement rate they have experienced with the one-semes- ter program. They felt that a program of this duration should 3 B-164031 (1) not be overlooked as a means of helping ADC recipients get off the welfare rolls becaLuse it equips them with a marketable skill for employment at the earliest possible time. Hollis- ton officials also stated that the program, has now been changed to include et least 30 credit hours of study--thus lead- ing to a certificate and that it now consists of 2 semesters of 15 weeks each--thus satisfying the 6-rDnth criteria. The program is being offered at all five campus locations. We were also advised that in August 1976 the school notified former students of the special s¢rcetarial program that they were eligible to continue their education and to complete the requirements for a certificate. We also discussed the matters in this letter with the regional commissioner, Office of Education, and he stated that the Office of Education had requested that the HEW Audit Agency undertake a review of these and other matters at Holliston Junior College. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDA T ION. The Basic Grant eligibility criteria, or at least their intent, appear tu have been circumvented at Holliston Junior College by awarding Basic Grants to students in a noncertifi- cate, 15-week program. We recommend that the Office of Edu- cation, in its consideration of the matters discussed in this report, determine if this did occur and if Holliston Junior College should make restitution to the Federal Government. We also recommend that the Office determine whether the changes made in the special secretarial program bring it into compliance with Basic Grant eligibility criteria which require, among other things, that (1) training at an institu- tion of nigher education lead to a degree or certificate and (2) the program be of at least 6 months' duration. We would like to thank you for the courtesies extended to us during this review. We would appreciate being advised of tkbx actions taken on these matters. Sincerely yours, a G oeg\ry .Ahat Dire tor
The Basic Educational Opportunity Grant Program at Holliston Junior College
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-02-15.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)