WRITTEN ARRANGEMENTS BETWEEN SCHOOLS

Under a consortium or contractual agreement (including those for study-abroad programs), the home school must give credit for courses taken at the other schools on the same basis as if it provided the training. The assumption of such an agreement is that the home school has found the other school’s or organization’s academic standards equivalent to its own and the instruction an acceptable substitute for its own. A home school may decline to give credit for courses in which a student earns a grade that is not acceptable at the home school even though the host school has a policy of accepting that grade for its resident students.

Also, although grades received through consortium or contractual agreements do not have to be included in a student’s grade point average, they must be included when calculating the quantitative component (the percentage of credits earned vs. attempted) of her satisfactory academic progress. If not written for an individual student or group of students, agreements between schools can go on indefinitely. These agreements do not have to be renewed unless the terms of the agreement change.

A school must provide enrolled and prospective students with a description of the written arrangements it has entered into, including the portion of the educational program that the school that grants the degree or certificate is not providing, the name and location of the other schools or organizations that are providing that portion of the educational program, the method of delivery of that part of the educational program, and estimated additional costs students may incur by enrolling in an educational program provided under the written arrangement

CONSORTIUM AGREEMENTS

A consortium agreement can apply to all FSA programs. Under a consortium agreement, students may take courses at a school other than the home school and have those courses count toward the degree or certificate at the home school. A student can only receive FSA assistance for courses that are applicable to the student’s certificate or degree program.

A consortium agreement can be a blanket agreement between two or more eligible schools, or it can be written for a specific student. Such an agreement is often used when a student takes related courses at neighboring schools or when a student is enrolled in an exchange program with another eligible school for a term or more. A school could have one agreement for each student, a separate agreement with each host school, or a blanket agreement with a group of schools.

In a consortium agreement, there is no limit on the portion of the eligible program that may be provided by eligible schools other than the home school. Agreement contents can vary widely and will depend upon the interests of the schools involved and the accrediting or state agency standards. Usually, the home school is responsible for disbursing funds, but if the student is enrolled for a full term or academic year at the host school, it may be easier for the host school to monitor his eligibility and make payments.

When there is a written arrangement between eligible schools, any of the schools participating in the written arrangement may make FSA calculations and disbursements without that school being considered a third-party servicer. This is true even if the student is not currently taking courses at the school that is calculating and disbursing the aid.

The school that disburses an FSA award is responsible for maintaining information on the student’s eligibility, how the award was calculated, what money has been disbursed, and any other documentation associated with the award, even if some of that documentation comes from other schools. Moreover, the school paying the student must return FSA funds if required, for example, in refund/return or overpayment situations.

Source: Federal Student Aid Handbook Chapter 2

Volume 2 School Eligibility and Operations page 34 and 35

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