Archived Information: US Department of Education Principal Office Functional Statements
Office of Federal Student Aid
Archived Information



Functional Statements > Federal Student Aid > Enforcement

Enforcement, a business unit within FSA reporting to the Chief Operating Officer, is responsible for taking enforcement action against parties participating in Title IV, Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) programs. The work is designed to protect students, borrowers, and taxpayers and to enforce compliance with laws and regulations governing student financial assistance programs administered by FSA.

Enforcement carries out its responsibilities through four subcomponents:

Each of these four components takes, or recommends the taking of, actions (administrative enforcement actions) that constitute final agency actions of the Department that -

  • Terminate, revoke, limit, or bar renewal of the participation of a party in the Title IV programs (other than terminations of eligibility based on Gainful Employment (GE), or Cohort Default Rate (CDR) requirements),
  • Impose fines on a party for violations of Title IV requirements,
  • Debar or suspend the ability of a party to contract with or receive or manage grants from Federal agencies, or
  • Require a party to pay for losses incurred by the Department on account of the acts or omissions of the party.

Each component that issues a determination in an administrative enforcement action to any party that imposes any of these consequences or requirements does so in timely collaboration with the Office of the General Counsel and the concurrence by the Office of the General Counsel that the proposed action is supported by applicable law and an adequate evidentiary basis. Each component that considers settlement of financial claims in connection with an administrative enforcement action against a party does so with the advice of the Office of the General Counsel and as authorized by applicable law and delegation.

Each component seeking to issue an administrative subpoena does so as authorized by applicable law and delegation and with the concurrence by the Office of the General Counsel.

Administrative Actions and Appeals Service Group

The Administrative Actions and Appeals Service Group (AAASG) administers the Secretary’s authority to fine, limit, suspend, terminate, and take emergency actions against parties that participate in Federal Student Aid programs. AAASG initiates such actions against guaranty agencies, lenders, and servicers. AAASG administers the Secretary’s authority to initiate debarment and suspension proceedings against parties. AAASG also administers the Secretary’s authority to resolve appeals of final audit and final program review determinations. AAASG’s activities include:
  • Develop, initiate and impose Emergency/Termination/Limitation/Suspension/Fine actions and assist the Office of the General Counsel in settlement negotiations related to such actions
  • Participate and consult in the development/drafting of school revocations and school recertification denials
  • Coordinate the resolution of appeals by program participants from final audit and final program review determinations
  • Initiate debarment and suspension proceedings against parties in connection with FSA programs
  • Issue warning letters to participating Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) for non-reporting violations prior to initiating adverse administrative actions/imposing sanctions
  • Participate in on-site reviews with program review teams.

Clery Group

The Clery Group has oversight responsibility for Campus Safety and Security Reporting for IHEs participating in the Title IV programs. The Clery Group conducts reviews of IHEs Annual Security Reports and Annual Fire Safety Reports to ensure the reports contain safety and security related policy statements, crime and fire statistics, and that the reports are distributed annually to students and employees. The Clery Group also checks to ensure that IHEs report crime and fire statistics to the Department of Education annually and comply with the Drug Free Schools Community Amendment Act of 1989. The Clery staff’s responsibilities include:
  • Schedule and conduct Clery Act compliance initiative reviews
  • Manage the Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Manage and perform data analysis on annual Clery Act reports and FBI data
  • Examine how an IHE defines its campus geography, classifies and counts reportable crimes
  • Review IHE procedures for the collection of crime statistics from campus security authorities and local police
  • Determine that the IHE maintains a Daily Crime Log and a Fire Log, if it has campus housing facilities
  • Evaluate the IHE’s Timely Warning policy and Emergency response and Evacuation procedures
  • Review the IHE’s policy statements to include Sex Offenses and Offenders and Missing Students
  • Review the IHE’s drug and alcohol abuse prevention program to ensure that the IHE distributes the program annually to each student and employee and that it conducts a biennial review of its program to measure effectiveness and make recommendations

Investigations Group

The Investigations Group is responsible for identifying and coordinating the investigation of, and response to, indicators of potential misconduct or high risk conduct on the part of IHEs and third-party servicers (TPSs). The work of the group includes the following:
  • Identify problematic issues at IHEs and TPSs, independently and through coordination with other FSA and ED offices, and other Federal and State agencies
  • Work with Departmental offices, FSA’s Enterprise Data Office, Business Operations, Risk Management, and other units within FSA to evaluate data on Cohort Default Rates, Gainful Employment rates, and other indicators of potential risk activity at IHEs
  • Develop and apply a risk-based priority setting plan to determine where to focus efforts. The risk model will be used by the Investigations Group separately but in consultation with the risk-model used by Program Compliance in targeting program reviews
  • Conduct targeted investigations, using interviews and administrative subpoenas to compel production of documents and responses to interrogatories, in order to develop administrative enforcement actions
  • Collaborate actively with other agencies that have complementary enforcement resources, such as the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, and States Attorneys General, in building cases against IHEs, and coordinate with Program Compliance in regard to how such evidence affects ongoing Program Compliance reviews
  • Provide support to the Office of the General Counsel as needed, including witness testimony, documents, and data analysis, in litigation involving challenges to administrative enforcement actions undertaken at the recommendation of the Enforcement Office
  • Coordinate with Program Compliance and the Office of the General Counsel to advise on thorough financial responsibility reviews and appropriate Letters of Credit (LOCs).
  • Recommend appropriate amounts for the LOCs from schools to protect ED if these institutions fail, including with respect to accountability related to liability for borrower defense claims
  • Work with Program Compliance to review applications for certification, eligibility, and expansion from IHEs that are under investigation by the Investigations Group, and place restrictions on Program Participation Agreements (PPAs) as necessary to address concerns
  • Investigate IHEs in connection with borrower defense claims
  • Analyze ability to make recoveries against IHEs based on evidence obtained from borrower defense claims and other appropriate evidentiary sources
  • Coordinate with enforcement divisions of other Federal and State agencies regarding borrower defense claims
  • Advise the Chief Enforcement Officer on law and policy matters related to recommendations by Enforcement to Department policymakers.

Borrower Defense Group

The Borrower Defense Group considers and issues decisions on claims by individual borrowers who assert a defense to repayment of Federal student loans based on an act or omission of an IHE that gives rise to a cause of action under State law or Federal regulations, as applicable. The work includes the following:
  • Conduct legal research and analysis of borrower defense claims and assess  injury
  • Correspond with IHEs and third parties to obtain information and records needed to evaluate  borrower defense claims
  • Consult with the Investigations Group as needed to gather additional information regarding individual borrower defense claims and refer to the Investigations Group those claims that appear to indicate a pattern, practice or repeated instances of conduct giving rise to borrower defense claims
  • Conduct hearings in written, telephonic or in person form as needed to resolve borrower defense claims
  • Issue written decisions on borrower defense claims that constitute the final decision of the Secretary in timely collaboration with the Office of the General Counsel consistent with this functional statement.  
  • Coordinate with enforcement divisions of other Federal and State agencies regarding individual borrower defense claims
  • Advise the Chief Enforcement Officer on law and policy matters related to recommendations by Enforcement to Department policymakers.

TOP



   
Last Modified: 05/20/2020