2nd September 2016 Noelle Moore

Federal Aid Compliance with SEAtS

Federal Aid Compliance
Here at SEAtS Software we understand the importance of federal aid compliance.

Jefferson College and a few other colleges and universities are making strides to stay ahead and meet their compliance obligations with the Department of Education Federal Aid. One major compliance area? Student attendance – in class, in other designated academic settings (library, internships), and in online classes. All valuable data points for assessing compliance with DoE Federal Aid.

The DoE performed a Program Review in May 2012 of Jefferson College. Through the audit process they discovered insufficient data to support that students began attending their courses and their last dates of attendance. Before the audit Jefferson College had only requested that instructors and staff track student attendance. After the audit Jefferson College changed to a “mandatory attendance tracking” policy. Kudos to the college for immediately tackling the issue and making a big change. Big changes in Higher Ed are uncommon to say the least.

I was also impressed by Jefferson’s College institutional approach to attacking the problem. The VP of Instruction was involved as well as Student Services, and Student Financial Services. Their new Student Participation System resulted in high participation rates by the majority of instructors and staff.
On the flip side, the following left me unsettled and disturbed:
“During the first semester of implementation of mandatory attendance reporting, Jefferson learned many valuable lessons. First, staff discovered the importance of reinforcing accurate tracking of attendance data. The college experienced roughly fifty cases in which Student Financial Services staff discovered that a student had not attended for a month or two and then attendance records indicated that he or she attended one class period. When the director of Student Financial Services followed up with faculty members about the reported attendance, 99 percent of the reports were determined to be inaccurate”.

What does that tell me? When you rely heavily on manual tracking of attendance you inevitably end up with lots of human error and inaccuracies.
That’s not the way it has to be. There is a solution that intakes student record information from the institution’s SIS and student activity online from the LMS, and also automatically tracks student attendance in physical locations, such as class, library, lab, tutoring center, internship sites, etc. A solution that doesn’t rely on manual entry. A solution that provides reliable and accurate data. A solution that automates audit reports to use for compliance. A solution that also serves as a student relationship management tool and helps students stay on track with automated text messages when they miss a class or some other obligation. A solution that reports at the institutional, student, student cohort and departmental level.
After all, data is meaningless until it is transformed into information. I know a solution that does just that for Higher Education.

Want to know more on this topic, why not schedule a 15 minute demo with one of our federal aid experts today. Simply follow the link here.