Debunking the Myths Christian Colleges Face When Considering Participation in Federal Student Aid
We are frequently asked, “how will my institution be negatively affected by participating in the HEA Title IV student financial assistance programs?” There are several myths spread around by well-meaning individuals that hamper some institutions from wanting to participate in Title IV programs. We have heard of college presidents, directors, and other leaders who have been misinformed and therefore reiterating information that is not accurate or true.
We base our debunking of this misinformation/myths on over 15 years of providing Title IV financial aid services to small Bible Colleges, Seminaries and Christian Colleges. We currently serve over fifty of these institutions and, in our experience, have never heard of any of these myths being true.
“Our institution will be required to abandon its Biblical foundations in favor of secular philosophies.” Not correct! In fact, the reality is exactly the opposite. To participate in the Title IV programs, an institution must be accredited by an accrediting agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education. Two of the most prominent faith-based accrediting agencies are the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges (TRACS). Each of these organizations have accreditation standards which require that accredited institutions must have “Biblical Foundations” or “Tenets of Faith” which specifically state the institution’s religious doctrines and statements of the institution’s Christian beliefs and foundations.. Therefore, this myth is just untrue.
“Our institution will be required to teach more secular beliefs and abandon our Biblical foundations and curriculum.” Also, not true. What is taught and how it is taught is approved by the various state licensing agencies and the institution’s accreditor. In our extensive experience in financial aid and higher education, we have not seen any such interference with what is taught if the curriculum leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate that leads to potential employment.
“Our institution will be required to employ a financial aid officer whose lifestyle and beliefs do not agree with the philosophies and beliefs of the institution.” Also, not true. The same laws that permit you to ensure that your faculty and staff share the same beliefs are in effect regardless of your participation in federal student aid. See Title VII of the EEOC for more information.
“Our institution will not be allowed to teach the tenants of the Bible and our institution’s faith statements as a part of the curriculum of our institution.” Also, not true. Your institution’s curriculum and educational programs are approved by your accrediting agency and the U.S. Department of Education does not meddle or make educational object demands upon the institution.
“Our institution is experiencing bureaucratic fear of participating in the federal programs.” That is a very real fear but one that with proper guidance can be overcome. Experienced guidance from Third-Party servicers, like Weber & Associates, can help to alleviate these fears with the right hand-holding and caring guidance. Please contact us if you have further questions regarding our services and pricing.
“Our students are preparing to become ministers or missionaries and we do not want to burden them with student loan debt, so we just do not participate”. This is a very valid concern, but what is not known is that you can participate in the Federal Pell Grant, the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) and Federal Work Study (FWS) programs without participating in the Federal Direct Loan program. Participation in the federal student loan programs is optional. Why should your students not have a grant of up to $5,920 for two semesters or three quarters of attendance? This could increase with participation in the FSEOG and FWS programs.
“If we make mistakes with managing the Title IV programs our institution may have to repay thousands of dollars and be punished by the U.S. Department of Education”. Yes, that is a valid fear. But with the proper guidance and assistance, mistakes do not have to happen and can be avoided. That is what Weber is all about: Help and prevention.
“We have heard that employing a qualified financial aid officer is very expensive and far beyond our small institution’s budget. In addition, our institution is not in a large city, and finding a qualified person could prove to be very difficult.” That concern is most definitely true, and not exaggerated. While it is true that you must have a person designated to be the Financial Aid Officer, an experienced third party, such as Weber & Associates, can manage your Title IV programs and to train a person to work with the service to carry out the duties of a financial aid officer.
If any of our readers have questions about these myths and how to provide students with financial assistance, please call us at 888-857-8690. The consultation regarding any of these matters is free of cost. We are happy to assist you with all your Title IV and financial aid need