We’ve Been Monitoring the Websites of 26 Schools Post Passage of the CARES Act. Here’s What We Found. – Third Way
According to the law, institutions have 30 days to publicly disclose information on how much funding they received from the federal government and how they’ve allocated that emergency aid to students. But the US Department of Education (Department) seems wholly uninterested in enforcing that provision of the law, offering sparse and confusing guidance to schools on how to administer these funds and essentially letting colleges do whatever they want (except, of course, supporting their own DACA students). Given some predatory institutions’ track record of poor transparency and fiscal responsibility even before the crisis, which has often geared up in times of economic turmoil, this lack of oversight after a massive influx of federal dollars is inexcusable.
Since we know this money and the Department’s seeming disinterest in enforcing the requirements of the law have created a recipe for abuse, we decided to monitor 26 schools that received significant CARES Act funds who have a track record of poor and predatory behavior (selected based on previous law enforcement investigations and deceptive approaches to skirt federal law, as documented by David Halperin and The Century Foundation) to see if they are following the directives in the law and disclosing how and when they are distributing emergency aid to their students. These schools represent a sampling of what we anticipate may be true in the higher ed system more broadly when it comes to publishing this information which is owed to both students and taxpayers.
So, here is what we did to see where things stand. We went to each college’s website on our list of 26 that had previously been identified by other organizations as behaving badly and had cashed significant CARES checks, and we searched for the public disclosures. What we found was not surprising but should serve as a warning flag that these schools and the Department are not taking Congress’s disclosure requirements seriously — despite there being more than $14 billion and students’ futures on the line.