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Title IV Program Eligibility Criteria

We plan to refer cases of school officials encouraging fraud and engaging in deceptive practices to Education’s Office of Inspector General, where appropriate. Our investigative work, conducted from May 2010 through July 2010, was performed in accordance with standards prescribed by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.

In recent years, the scale and scope of for-profit colleges have changed considerably. Traditionally focused on certificate and programs ranging from cosmetology to medical assistance and business administration, for- profit institutions have expanded their offerings to include bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level programs. Both the certificate and degree programs provide students with training for careers in a variety of fields. Proponents of for-profit colleges argue that they offer certain flexibilities that traditional universities cannot, such as, online courses, flexible meeting times, and year-round courses. Moreover, for-profit colleges often have open admissions policies to accept any student who applies.

Currently, according to Education about 2,000 for-profit colleges participate in Title IV programs and in the 2008–2009 school year, for- profit colleges received approximately $24 billion in Title IV funds. Students can only receive Title IV funds when they attend colleges approved by Education to participate in the Title IV program.

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, provides that a variety of institutions of higher education are eligible to participate in Title IV programs, including:

  • Public institutions—Institutions operated and funded by state or local governments, which include state universities and community colleges.

  • Private nonprofit institutions—Institutions owned and operated by nonprofit organizations whose net earnings do not benefit any shareholder or individual. These institutions are eligible for tax- deductible contributions in accordance with the Internal Revenue code (26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3)).

  • For-profit institutions—Institutions that are privately owned or owned by a publicly traded company and whose net earnings can benefit a shareholder or individual.

Colleges must meet certain requirements to receive Title IV funds. While full requirements differ depending on the type of college, most colleges are

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