34 CFR § 668.173 - Refund reserve standards.
(a) General. The Secretary considers that an institution has sufficient cash reserves, as required under § 668.171(b)(2), if the institution -
(1) Satisfies the requirements for a public institution under § 668.171(c)(1);
(2) Is located in a State that has a tuition recovery fund approved by the Secretary and the institution contributes to that fund; or
(3) Returns, in a timely manner as described in paragraph (b) of this section, unearned title IV, HEA program funds that it is responsible for returning under the provisions of § 668.22 for a student that withdrew from the institution.
(b) Timely return of title IV, HEA program funds. In accordance with procedures established by the Secretary or FFEL Program lender, an institution returns unearned title IV, HEA program funds timely if -
(1) The institution deposits or transfers the funds into the bank account it maintains under § 668.163 no later than 45 days after the date it determines that the student withdrew;
(2) The institution initiates an electronic funds transfer (EFT) no later than 45 days after the date it determines that the student withdrew;
(3) The institution initiates an electronic transaction, no later than 45 days after the date it determines that the student withdrew, that informs a FFEL lender to adjust the borrower's loan account for the amount returned; or
(4) The institution issues a check no later than 45 days after the date it determines that the student withdrew. An institution does not satisfy this requirement if -
(i) The institution's records show that the check was issued more than 45 days after the date the institution determined that the student withdrew; or
(ii) The date on the cancelled check shows that the bank used by the Secretary or FFEL Program lender endorsed that check more than 60 days after the date the institution determined that the student withdrew.
(c) Compliance thresholds.
(1) An institution does not comply with the reserve standard under § 668.173(a)(3) if, in a compliance audit conducted under § 668.23, an audit conducted by the Office of the Inspector General, or a program review conducted by the Department or guaranty agency, the auditor or reviewer finds -
(i) In the sample of student records audited or reviewed that the institution did not return unearned title IV, HEA program funds within the timeframes described in paragraph (b) of this section for 5% or more of the students in the sample. (For purposes of determining this percentage, the sample includes only students for whom the institution was required to return unearned funds during its most recently completed fiscal year.); or
(ii) A material weakness or reportable condition in the institution's report on internal controls relating to the return of unearned title IV, HEA program funds.
(2) The Secretary does not consider an institution to be out of compliance with the reserve standard under § 668.173(a)(3) if the institution is cited in any audit or review report because it did not return unearned funds in a timely manner for one or two students, or for less than 5% of the students in the sample referred to in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section.
(d) Letter of credit.
(1) Except as provided under paragraph (e)(1) of this section, an institution that can satisfy the reserve standard only under paragraph (a)(3) of this section, must submit an irrevocable letter of credit acceptable and payable to the Secretary if a finding in an audit or review shows that the institution exceeded the compliance thresholds in paragraph (c) of this section for either of its two most recently completed fiscal years.
(2) The amount of the letter of credit required under paragraph (d)(1) of this section is 25 percent of the total amount of unearned title IV, HEA program funds that the institution was required to return under § 668.22 during the institution's most recently completed fiscal year.
(3) An institution that is subject to paragraph (d)(1) of this section must submit to the Secretary a letter of credit no later than 30 days after the earlier of the date that -
(i) The institution is required to submit its compliance audit;
(ii) The Office of the Inspector General issues a final audit report;
(iii) The designated department official issues a final program review determination;
(iv) The Department issues a preliminary program review report or draft audit report, or a guaranty agency issues a preliminary report showing that the institution did not return unearned funds for more than 10% of the sampled students; or
(v) The Secretary sends a written notice to the institution requesting the letter of credit that explains why the institution has failed to return unearned funds in a timely manner.
(e) Exceptions. With regard to the letter of credit described in paragraph (d) of this section -
(1) An institution does not have to submit the letter of credit if the amount calculated under paragraph (d)(2) of this section is less than $5,000 and the institution can demonstrate that it has cash reserves of at least $5,000 available at all times.
(2) An institution may delay submitting the letter of credit and request the Secretary to reconsider a finding made in its most recent audit or review report that it failed to return unearned title IV, HEA program funds in a timely manner if -
(A) The institution submits documents showing that the unearned title IV, HEA program funds were not returned in a timely manner solely because of exceptional circumstances beyond the institution's control and that the institution would not have exceeded the compliance thresholds under paragraph (c)(1) of this section had it not been for these exceptional circumstances; or
(B) The institution submits documents showing that it did not fail to make timely refunds as provided under paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section; and
(ii) The institution's request, along with the documents described in paragraph (e)(2)(i) of this section, is submitted to the Secretary no later than the date it would otherwise be required to submit a letter of credit under paragraph (d)(3).
(3) If the Secretary denies the institution's request under paragraph (e)(2) of this section, the Secretary notifies the institution of the date it must submit the letter of credit.
(f) State tuition recovery funds. In determining whether to approve a State's tuition recovery fund, the Secretary considers the extent to which that fund -
(1) Provides refunds to both in-State and out-of-State students;
(2) Allocates all refunds in accordance with the order required under § 668.22; and
(3) Provides a reliable mechanism for the State to replenish the fund should any claims arise that deplete the fund's assets.