INA — —
Rend Lake College has withdrawn from the Federal Direct Student Loan program effective with this summer's semester.
According to administrative rationale, it is in the best interest of the college and its students for the Financial Aid Office to focus on assistance for available gift aid and alternative loans due to changes in Federal Direct Loan policy. In 2009, the Department of Education began tracking the repayment of Federal Direct Loans for three years instead of two. The implementation of three-year cohort default rates has significantly increased default rates at many institutions, including Rend Lake College.
According to administrative rationale, it is in the best interest of the college and its students for the Financial Aid office to focus on assistance for available gift aid and alternative loans due to changes in Federal Direct Loan policy. In 2009, the Department of Education began tracking the repayment of Federal Direct Loans for three years instead of two. The implementation of three-year cohort default rates has significantly increased default rates at many colleges, including RLC.
A Default Management team was formed in response to these new regulations. Severe consequences will be imposed in 2014 for institutions with high default rates. The most severe ramification is loss of all Title IV eligibility which includes the federal Pell grant. Loss of Pell funds would have affected 1,647 Rend Lake College students during the 2011-2012 academic year.
The team researched available options for lowering default rates, hired Wright International Student Services to assist delinquent borrowers and created the position of Financial Aid and Admissions Coordinator. The team also analyzed and identified characteristics of the defaulting borrowers to better understand the problem. The Default Management Team has concluded that Rend Lake College should begin processing alternative loans instead of participating in the Direct Student Loan program.
“We think it's critical that we remove ourselves from this program to help most of our students the best way we can,” said Vice-Chair Ed Cunningham. “The rules have come down, which could take away our Pell grant if we continue with it, we believe will have a much bigger impact on our students, the college and what we can provide for the community. It's a hard decision, but we have to do the right thing for the students.”
“We will still be Pell-eligible to provide student loans … through alternative lenders,” added RLC President Terry Wilkerson. “Everything for our students, for the most part, is not going to change. We are just not going to participate in this particular program.”
“I want to make sure everyone understands this is not something we wish to do,” Cunningham said, “but we believe, with the changes in the law, we are forced to do for the betterment of our students.”
The Board approved seven new courses and authorized their submission to the Illinois Community College Board for action. Four of the new courses are in the Graphic Design curriculum. Classes were also approved in Health Care Basic Skills, Special Topics in Music, and Clinical Education for Technologists.
In other news, the board:
- Approved revisions concerning sick and personal leave;
- Approved a side letter to the agreement between the Laborers International Union of North America, Local 1197, and the RLC Board of Trustees;
- Approved the notice of election for student trustee; and
- Approved the statement of final construction compliance for the pedestrian bike path lighting upgrades and the room upgrades and partial roof replacement, a Capital Renewal Grant project.