Did You Know?
Recent explanation of information received from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) may alter your procedures for calculating the date of determination (DOD) in Return of Title IV (R2T4) calculations.
For clarification purposes, FAME received guidance from ED that affects schools that are required to take attendance. The amplification on prior guidance relates to R2T4 and the DOD when a scheduled break is involved in the payment period. Here are some examples based on ED’s guidance.
Scenario 1 – The student’s last day of attendance (LDA) was 12/15/16. A scheduled break occurred from 12/23/16 until 1/8/17. Fourteen (14) calendar days started 12/16. Therefore, the latest date allowed as the DOD occurs 12/29/16, during the break. The date of 12/29/16 is when the school should start the withdrawal process. The school would have 45 days (or 30, depending on school policy) from the DOD to return any federal funds, if applicable.
The school should reach out to the student prior to the break to see what is going on. Is he going to withdraw, or did he just start his vacation early? Or, is he perhaps eligible for an LOA, which he needs to request, etc.?
Scenario 2 – The student’s LDA was 12/22/16, and a scheduled break started 12/23/16, which ran until 1/8/17. The student did not return on 1/9/17, when classes resumed. The 14 calendar days starts 1/9/17, if the school had no knowledge that the student was not coming back. Therefore, the DOD is 1/23/17, and that is the date the school starts the withdrawal process. The school would have 45 days (or 30 days, depending on school policy) from the DOD to return any federal funds, if applicable.
ED’s guidance is that the school must use a count of 14 calendar days from the LDA as the DOD, UNLESS there is some unusual circumstance where the school could not reasonably know the student would withdraw or not return, such as:
- unexpected school closure, with the school offices shut down;
- very long periods of school closure well beyond 14 days;
- unusual student issues (e.g., a student has a broken leg, and is planning to come back, but then, ends up not returning).
In such cases as these examples, the school would use the first scheduled day back as the DOD. For example, if the student attended all days of the prior payment period, and then went on a school-scheduled break, and there was no indication that the student would not return at the next scheduled class day (which may be the start of a new payment period), then the student would not fall under the “14 days-from-LDA” rule. Rather, the 14 days would start at the end of the school-scheduled break (similar to an unusual circumstance, since you would assume the student would come back, in good standing.)
If a student does not return from an approved leave of absence (LOA), the DOD is the date they were supposed to return. If the LOA end date falls within a scheduled break, the school would have to change the LOA end date to the day before the start of the scheduled break.
 2016-2017 Federal Student Aid Handbook, Volume 5, page 5-22. “Except in unusual instances, the date of the institution’s determination that the student withdrew should be no later than 14 days (less if the school has a policy requiring determination in fewer than 14 days) after the student’s last date of attendance as determined by the institution from its attendance records.”
This material is presented for informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered to be giving legal advice.