For the third year in a row, West Virginia failed to file its Single Audit—consisting of financial information from all state agencies that receive federal money—on time. As a result, the U.S. Department of Education imposed federal sanctions that will not only impact the disbursal of financial aid moneys but also restrict public colleges’ and universities’ ability to add new degree and certificate programs. These sanctions will remain in place for at least three years (through July 2020), and possibly for a total of five years.
It was widely reported (in publications ranging from USA Today to Inside Higher Ed) that the financial sanctions would limit colleges’ and universities’ access to Title IV funds, compelling schools to disburse aid to students and then ask for reimbursement from the federal government.
A lesser known provision of the sanctions will affect colleges’ and universities’ ability to modify their curricula. Specifically, any addition or deletion of (or significant change to) any degree or certificate program will require not only the standard university-level curricular approvals, as well as required state-level approvals, but now will also require vetting by the U.S. Department of Education. This additional level of scrutiny will add several months to the approval process of curricular change.