FOIA

Use of Enforcement Authority

In order to safeguard federal student aid dollars, the U.S. Department of Education has the authority to engage in enforcement actions against institutions of higher education and their third-party servicers when institutions or third-party servicers violate Title IV program requirements. In an effort to protect students and taxpayers, Student Defense has sought information related to enforcement actions taken against institutions or third-party servicers under the Trump administration and previously.

FOIA Requests

Communications between the Department and ACICS between March 23, 2018 and April 3, 2018 - April 4, 2018

Seeking: Documents constituting or reflecting communications, regardless of the subject matter, between the Department and its employees or representatives, on the one hand, and either or both of ACICS (including its representatives, counsel, and employees) and/or Career Education Colleges and Universities ("APSCU"), including its representatives, counsel, and employees. 

On January 22, 2021, the Department provided a set of responsive documents. Those documents are available here and here.

 

ACICS’s Part II Response/Part II Submission - April 4, 2018 

Seeking: Documents constituting ACICS’s Part II response or Part II submission, as described by the District Court in its Mach 23, 2018 Order in Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools v. DeVos, No. 16-cv-2448 (D.D.C.). 

The Department initially failed to produce any documents, as required by law. After Student Defense and the Project on Predatory Student Lending sued the Department in federal court, the Department made the responsive documents publicly available here: https://www.ed.gov/accreditation/acics.


Communications between the Department and ACICS between April 3, 2018 and April 26, 2018 - April 27, 2018

Seeking: Documents constituting or reflecting communications, regardless of the subject matter, between the Department and its employees or representatives, on the one hand, and of ACICS (including its representatives, counsel, and employees).

On January 21, 2021, the Department provided a set of responsive documents. Those documents are available here.

 

 ACICS May 30 Order - May 31, 2018

Seeking: Documents constituting ACICS’s submission of additional evidence in response to the April 3 Order, or which are otherwise being considered by the Department as being submitted by ACICS in response to the April 3 Order; and all communications between the United States Department of Education, including career and political employees, and any representative of ACICS, including staff, officers, and outside counsel, regarding the submission of documents by ACICS pursuant to the April 3 Order.

The Department initially failed to produce any documents, as required by law. After Student Defense sued the Department in federal court, the Department made the responsive documents publicly available here: https://www.ed.gov/accreditation/acics.

 

Communications between the Department and ACICS after April 27, 2018 - June 15, 2018

Seeking: Documents constituting or reflecting communications, regardless of the subject matter, between the Department and its employees or representatives, on the one hand, and of ACICS (including its representatives, counsel, and employees). 

On January 7, 2019, the Department provided a set of responsive documents. Those documents are available here

 

Communications and Documents Regarding Compliance Audits - July 25, 2018

Seeking: Student Defense submitted FOIA requests asking for:

  1. communications informing schools or compliance auditors that a Title IV compliance audit submitted to the Department was rejected; and

  2. documents constituting certain “input and feedback” that the Office of Inspector General provided to the Department regarding how to address compliance audits with quality problems.

Documents 

On August 29, 2018, the Department provided an interim response to Part A. Those documents are available here

On September 13, 2018, the Department provided its Final Response to Part A. Student Defense agreed to accept a summary spreadsheet in lieu of documents.That spreadsheet is available here.

On August 23, 2018, the Office of the Inspector General provided a Final Response to Part B. Those documents are available here.

 

Details on Substantial Misrepresentation Findings - July 31, 2018

Seeking: Documents the Department explicitly mentioned when it brought a fine action against Hondros College in 2015. Additionally, documents the Department used to justify its denial of World Medicine Institute’s application for recertification in 2017.

Documents

On July 24, 2020 the Department provided a set of responsive documents. Those documents are available here

 

Final Audit Determinations for Western Governors University and Colorado Technical University - December 4, 2018

Seeking: Federal Student Aid’s Final Audit Determinations for Western Governors University and Colorado Technical University. These documents are related to the “regular and substantive interaction” requirement for distance education programs offered by institutions participating in Title IV of the Higher Education Act.

Documents

On May 24, 2019 the Department provided a Final Response to the request regarding Colorado Technical University. The documents are available here.

 

Findings re: Institutions’ Compliance with Distance Education under Title IV - December 4, 2018

Seeking: All documents constituting Final Program Review Determinations or Final Audit Determinations issued by Federal Student Aid from 2012 to the present that contain the term “regular and substantive interaction.” 

Documents

On September 26, 2019 the Department provided a Final Response. The documents are available here. (large file)

 

Records of Department of Education’s use of Subpoena Power - December 6, 2018

Seeking: All administrative subpoenas issued by the Secretary of Education, or the Secretary’s delegee, pursuant to her authority under the Higher Education Act, in order to assist with the Department’s investigations of possible Title IV violations.

Documents

On March 12, 2019 the Department provided a Final Response. The production is available here.

 

The Department of Education’s Use of Debarments and Suspensions to Prevent Title IV Violations - December 18, 2018

Seeking: All notices of debarment and all notices of suspension issued to an individual or entity participating in Title IV programs under the Higher Education Act.

Documents 

On January 9, 2019 the Department provided a Final Response. On January 10, 2019 Student Defense filed an administrative appeal of that Final Response. The Department granted Student Defense's appeal on May 28, 2019. On June 20, 2019, Student Defense filed a second administrative appeal. On June 8, 2021, the Department provided a Final Determination letter and a set of responsive documents

 

Use of Enforcement Power to Limit Institutions and Servicers Participating in Title IV Programs - December 19, 2018 

Seeking: All documents constituting notice to either higher education institutions or third-party servicers of its intent to limit it participating in Title IV programs by the Secretary, pursuant to her  authority under the Higher Education Act.

Documents

On February 11, 2019 the Department responded with a set of documents available here

 

ED’s Termination of Institutions’ and Third-Party Servicers’ Title IV Eligibility - December 24, 2018

Seeking: All documents constituting notices to institutions of higher education or third-party servicers of the Department’s intent to terminate the authority of any such entity to participate in Title IV programs.

Documents

On July 2, 2019 the Department responded with a set of documents available here.

 

Notices of Beginning Emergency Actions Against Institutions or Third-Party Servicers - January 2, 2019

Seeking: All documents constituting notice of the Department’s intent to begin an “emergency action” against either an institution of higher education participating in Title IV programs or a third-party servicer contracting with such an institution.

Documents

On July 2, 2019 the Department provided responsive documents, which are available here. The Department provided additional responsive documents on January 25, 2021, which are available here.

 

Notices of Intent to Begin Fine Proceedings - January 15, 2019

Seeking: All documents constituting notice to either institutions of higher education or third-party servicers of its intent to begin fine proceedings by the Secretary, pursuant to her authority under the Higher Education Act.

Documents

On April 16, 2019 the Department provided responsive documents, which are available here (114 MB pdf).

 

Updated Documents Regarding Proposed Debarments and Suspensions - July 19, 2021

Seeking: All Notices of Proposed Debarments issued or provided to any individual or entity relating to, or arising out of, that individual’s or entity’s participation or involvement in Title IV, HEA programs, including any attachments or enclosures; and all Notices of Proposed Suspensions issued or provided to any individual or entity relating to, or arising out of, that individual’s or entity’s participation or involvement in Title IV, HEA programs, including any attachments or enclosures.

Documents

On August 27, 2021 the Department provided responsive documents, which are available here.

 

ACICS Submissions Relating to June 2, 2021 SDO Decision - July 6, 2021

Seeking: All documents that constitute or have been submitted by ACICS (including by any representative of ACICS) in connection with any appeal of the June 2, 2021 SDO Decision, including but not limited to ACICS’s notice of appeal, appeal, and all documents and attachments filed in connection with the appeal.

Documents

On September 16, 2021 the Department provided responsive documents, which are available here