Education Dept. Unveils List of Colleges Facing Heightened Cash Monitoring

The U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday released, for the first time, the names of hundreds of colleges under heightened cash monitoring, Inside Higher Ed reported. The list includes nearly 560 institutions that are required to operate under more restrictive conditions because of concerns about their management or administration of federal financial aid dollars.

The department's extra scrutiny "is not necessarily a red flag to students and taxpayers, but it can serve as a caution light," Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell said in a written statement.

Most of the colleges – 487 institutions – fall under the lower level of scrutiny, but 69 face the higher, more stringent restrictions known as HCM2. Schools under that level of scrutiny must first disburse to students the loans and grant money that they are entitled to, and must then provide detailed information on each recipient before being reimbursed by the department. The 69 institutions on the HCM2 list include six public universities, 18 private nonprofit colleges, and 39 for-profit colleges in the United States, as well as six institutions overseas, reported The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The department released the information following a report last week by Inside Higher Ed, which filed an open-records request last summer seeking the names of the colleges on the list. That request was denied, and the agency then failed to respond to the publication's November appeal of that decision.

The agency continued to keep secret the identities of 21 of the 69 colleges that it placed on the highest level of monitoring, according to Inside Higher Ed. Nearly all of the unidentified colleges fell under that status because a federal audit of the institution resulted in "severe findings."

"We have ongoing investigations at each of those institutions and we fear that, at this point, releasing those names would impede the progress of our investigation," Mitchell said in an interview. The names of those colleges would eventually be released as the investigations are completed, he added.

Department officials plan to regularly update and repost the HCM list online.


Related Links

U.S. Education Department Blog Post

List of Schools on HCM1 or HCM2 as of 3/1/2015

Inside Higher Ed

The Chronicle of Higher Education