34 CFR § 668.175 - Alternative standards and requirements.

§ 668.175 Alternative standards and requirements.

(a) General. An institution that is not financially responsible under the general standards and provisions in § 668.171, may begin or continue to participate in the title IV, HEA programs by qualifying under an alternate standard set forth in this section.

(b) Letter of Credit or surety alternative for new institutions. A new institution that is not financially responsible solely because the Secretary determines that its composite score is less than 1.5, qualifies as a financially responsible institution by submitting an irrevocable letter of credit that is acceptable and payable to the Secretary, or providing other surety described under paragraph (h)(2)(i) of this section, for an amount equal to at least one-half of the amount of title IV, HEA program funds that the Secretary determines the institution will receive during its initial year of participation. A new institution is an institution that seeks to participate for the first time in the title IV, HEA programs.

(c) Financial protection alternative for participating institutions. A participating institution that is not financially responsible either because it does not satisfy one or more of the standards of financial responsibility under § 668.171(b), (c), or (d), or because of an audit opinion or going concern disclosure described under § 668.171(h), qualifies as a financially responsible institution by submitting an irrevocable letter of credit that is acceptable and payable to the Secretary, or providing other financial protection described under paragraph (h) of this section, for an amount determined by the Secretary that is not less than one-half of the title IV, HEA program funds received by the institution during its most recently completed fiscal year, except that this requirement does not apply to a public institution.

(d) Zone alternative.

(1) A participating institution that is not financially responsible solely because the Secretary determines that its composite score under § 668.172 is less than 1.5 may participate in the title IV, HEA programs as a financially responsible institution for no more than three consecutive years, beginning with the year in which the Secretary determines that the institution qualifies under this alternative.

(i)

(A) An institution qualifies initially under this alternative if, based on the institution's audited financial statement for its most recently completed fiscal year, the Secretary determines that its composite score is in the range from 1.0 to 1.4; and

(B) An institution continues to qualify under this alternative if, based on the institution's audited financial statement for each of its subsequent two fiscal years, the Secretary determines that the institution's composite score is in the range from 1.0 to 1.4.

(ii) An institution that qualified under this alternative for three consecutive years, or for one of those years, may not seek to qualify again under this alternative until the year after the institution achieves a composite score of at least 1.5, as determined by the Secretary.

(2) Under the zone alternative, the Secretary -

(i) Requires the institution to make disbursements to eligible students and parents, and to otherwise comply with the provisions, under either the heightened cash monitoring or reimbursement payment method described in § 668.162;

(ii) Requires the institution to provide timely information regarding any of the following oversight and financial events -

(A) Any event that causes the institution, or related entity as defined in Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 850, to realize any liability that was noted as a contingent liability in the institution's or related entity's most recent audited financial statement; or

(B) Any losses that are unusual in nature or infrequently occur, or both, as defined in accordance with Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2015-01 and ASC 225;

(iii) May require the institution to submit its financial statement and compliance audits earlier than the time specified under § 668.23(a)(4); and

(iv) May require the institution to provide information about its current operations and future plans.

(3) Under the zone alternative, the institution must -

(i) For any oversight or financial event described in paragraph (d)(2)(ii) of this section for which the institution is required to provide information, in accordance with procedures established by the Secretary, notify the Secretary no later than 10 days after that event occurs; and

(ii) As part of its compliance audit, require its auditor to express an opinion on the institution's compliance with the requirements under the zone alternative, including the institution's administration of the payment method under which the institution received and disbursed title IV, HEA program funds.

(4) If an institution fails to comply with the requirements under paragraph (d)(2) or (3) of this section, the Secretary may determine that the institution no longer qualifies under this alternative.

(e) [Reserved]

(f) Provisional certification alternative.

(1) The Secretary may permit an institution that is not financially responsible to participate in the title IV, HEA programs under a provisional certification for no more than three consecutive years if -

(i) The institution is not financially responsible because it does not satisfy the general standards under § 668.171(b), its recalculated composite score under § 668.171(e) is less than 1.0, it is subject to an action or event under § 668.171(c), or an action or event under paragraph (d) that has an adverse material effect on the institution as determined by the Secretary, or because of an audit opinion or going concern disclosure described in § 668.171(h); or

(ii) The institution is not financially responsible because of a condition of past performance, as provided under § 668.174(a), and the institution demonstrates to the Secretary that it has satisfied or resolved that condition; and

(2) Under this alternative, the institution must -

(i) Provide to the Secretary an irrevocable letter of credit that is acceptable and payable to the Secretary, or provide other financial protection described under paragraph (h) of this section, for an amount determined by the Secretary that is not less than 10 percent of the title IV, HEA program funds received by the institution during its most recently completed fiscal year, except that this requirement does not apply to a public institution that the Secretary determines is backed by the full faith and credit of the State;

(ii) Demonstrate that it was current on its debt payments and has met all of its financial obligations, as required under § 668.171(b)(3), for its two most recent fiscal years; and

(iii) Comply with the provisions under the zone alternative, as provided under paragraph (d)(2) and (3) of this section.

(3) If at the end of the period for which the Secretary provisionally certified the institution, the institution is still not financially responsible, the Secretary may again permit the institution to participate under a provisional certification but the Secretary -

(i) May require the institution, or one or more persons or entities that exercise substantial control over the institution, as determined under § 668.174(b)(1) and (c), or both, to provide to the Secretary financial guarantees for an amount determined by the Secretary to be sufficient to satisfy any potential liabilities that may arise from the institution's participation in the title IV, HEA programs;

(ii) May require one or more of the persons or entities that exercise substantial control over the institution, as determined under § 668.174(b)(1) and (c), to be jointly or severally liable for any liabilities that may arise from the institution's participation in the title IV, HEA programs; and

(iii) May require the institution to provide, or continue to provide, the financial protection resulting from an event described in § 668.171(c) and (d) until the institution meets the requirements of paragraph (f)(4) of this section.

(4) The Secretary maintains the full amount of financial protection provided by the institution under this section until the Secretary first determines that the institution has -

(i) A composite score of 1.0 or greater based on a review of the audited financial statements for the fiscal year in which all liabilities from any event described in § 668.171(c) or (d) on which financial protection was required; or

(ii) A recalculated composite score of 1.0 or greater, and any event or condition described in § 668.171(c) or (d) has ceased to exist.

(g) Provisional certification alternative for persons or entities owing liabilities.

(1) The Secretary may permit an institution that is not financially responsible because the persons or entities that exercise substantial control over the institution owe a liability for a violation of a title IV, HEA program requirement, to participate in the title IV, HEA programs under a provisional certification only if -

(i)

(A) The persons or entities that exercise substantial control, as determined under § 668.174(b)(1) and (c), repay or enter into an agreement with the Secretary to repay the applicable portion of that liability, as provided under § 668.174(b)(2)(ii); or

(B) The institution assumes that liability, and repays or enters into an agreement with the Secretary to repay that liability;

(ii) The institution satisfies the general standards and provisions of financial responsibility under § 668.171(b) and (d)(1), except that institution must demonstrate that it was current on its debt payments and has met all of its financial obligations, as required under § 668.171 (b)(3) and (b)(4), for its two most recent fiscal years; and

(iii) The institution submits to the Secretary an irrevocable letter of credit that is acceptable and payable to the Secretary, for an amount determined by the Secretary that is not less than 10 percent of the title IV, HEA program funds received by the institution during its most recently completed fiscal year.

(2) Under this alternative, the Secretary -

(i) Requires the institution to comply with the provisions under the zone alternative, as provided under paragraph (d) (2) and (3) of this section;

(ii) May require the institution, or one or more persons or entities that exercise substantial control over the institution, or both, to submit to the Secretary financial guarantees for an amount determined by the Secretary to be sufficient to satisfy any potential liabilities that may arise from the institution's participation in the title IV, HEA programs; and

(iii) May require one or more of the persons or entities that exercise substantial control over the institution to be jointly or severally liable for any liabilities that may arise from the institution's participation in the title IV, HEA programs.

(h) Financial protection.

(1) In accordance with procedures established by the Secretary or as part of an agreement with an institution under this section, the Secretary may use the funds from that financial protection to satisfy the debts, liabilities, or reimbursable costs, including costs associated with teach-outs as allowed by the Department, owed to the Secretary that are not otherwise paid directly by the institution.

(2) In lieu of submitting a letter of credit for the amount required by the Secretary under this section, the Secretary may permit an institution to -

(i) Provide the amount required in the form of other surety or financial protection that the Secretary specifies in a document published in the Federal Register;

(ii) Provide cash for the amount required; or

(iii) Enter into an arrangement under which the Secretary offsets the amount of title IV, HEA program funds that an institution has earned in a manner that ensures that, no later than the end of a six to twelve-month period selected by the Secretary, the amount offset equals the amount of financial protection the institution is required to provide. The Secretary provides to the institution any funds not used for the purposes described in paragraph (h)(1) of this section during the period covered by the agreement, or provides the institution any remaining funds if the institution subsequently submits other financial protection for the amount originally required.

[62 FR 62877, Nov. 25, 1997, as amended at 63 FR 40348, 40349, July 28, 1998; 81 FR 76075, Nov. 1, 2016; 84 FR 49913, Sept. 23, 2019]

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