SLU Sues U.S. Department of Education

Categories: Education

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Financial aid forms don't always tell the whole story, according to federal statute
​Has the U.S. Department of Education pulled a bait-and-switch by demanding that Saint Louis University fork over $2.8 million in student grants paid out by the government fifteen years ago?

That's what administrators for the Jesuit institution believe, and this week they filed a lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, rejecting his demands that the money be repaid.

The dispute hinges on a federal statute known as "Professional Judgment." The term refers to the discretion used by a college or university's financial-aid administrators to determine whether certain students -- owing to unusual circumstances -- demonstrate more financial need than what's originally calculated by the government's mathematical formulas. (The formulas tally what's commonly known as a student's "Expected Family Contribution," which is based on what they can afford to pay.)

Put in simpler terms, SLU officials say the law allows them to look beyond cursory financial aid forms and also consider a student's unique situations -- a mother's recent surgery, for example, or a relative's recent death -- when dolling out government-funded aid in the form of Pell Grants.

Arguing that Professional Judgment is not open to interpretation or limitation, SLU officials claim they did not overstep their rights by offering large financial age packages to 126 students from 1994 to 1996.

In the 39-page complaint, which was filed August 8 in federal court for the Eastern District of Missouri, SLU officials state: "The Defendants may not agree and indeed may vehemently disagree with the University's use of Professional Judgment for particular students. However, the Defendants may not assert a liability of $2.8 million based on that difference of opinion, because the authority of college an university financial aid administrators are enshrined in statute."

The formal war might have been declared this week, but the underlying battles between the university and the U.S. Department of Education have been going on since 1998, when a federal audit determined that the students in question were given overly generous Pell Grants. The Department of Education claimed that SLU financial aid administrators exerted too much discretion, overpaying a total of $175,797 -- a figure that was later extrapolated out to a total repayment liability of just over $2.8 million.

The audit was initiated to convince Congress to change the laws governing Professional Judgment, according to SLU.

We reached out to Duncan's office to ask whether other schools have been audited, but our messages were not returned. A SLU spokesman declined to comment other than to reference a recently issued statement.

SLU has a particular beef with Duncan's argument that his office needn't become familiar with the individual cases of the 126 students involved. The complaint includes a handful of verbatim messages written by parents and students like this one, which came from a hand-written note:

"On March 1, 1995 my Dad lost his job. This leaves us with no income or medical benefits until he is re-employed -- my sister is profoundly mentally and physically handicapped -- also uses diapers and is fed through a tube in her stomach. Her upkeep per month is now over $500.00 -- not counting possible medical needs. I have an average of over 3.5 -- I really don't want to have to drop out -- please help us."

CORRECTION: The original post erroneously referred to Pell Grants as loans.

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5 comments
Rushmoretx
Rushmoretx

St. Louis University was the only school in the country, and the only Jesuit school not to financially help Tulane University or their Jesuit counterpart, Loyola during the Katrina hurricane.  To receive academic credit during the semester that Tulane and Loyola were closed the students had to pay tuition either to the school that took them in or pay the tuition directly Tulane or Loyola.  The schools that welcomed the displaced students would then return the tuition to Tulane/Loyola and that amount would be credited towards the students individual account at the New Orleans schools.The President of the Jesuit University system stated that all Jesuit schools would comply with this policy, but he was in no position to legally force the individual schools to do so.Father Biondi, the decision maker at St. Louis University,  was the only school in the country to keep ALL tuition money paid to them, and not return any of the monies to Tulane and Loyola (a Jesuit school).Every university that did send tuition money back to the New Orleans schools had the same situation...at the worse, adding a a couple of  desks to each class room.  Point being that there are 4 years of students (only speaking of the handful that went to SLU)  each majoring in an array of subjects.  It's not like St. Louis University had to add classes or faculty to accommodate any specific students needing any specific courses to fulfill their major requirement.  Like any other University when the class was full, it was full, and you move on and take another class.

Msrdls
Msrdls

Let's hope Biondi was not PERSONALLY involved in decisions to award grants.....! That's all I will say.

Basti Auser
Basti Auser

YES , WE CAN...YES , WE CAN...WE WILL WIN IN WAR ON TERROR (30 whities or what are terrorists will never come back alive...thank you lord....aaamen).

What do you mean tragedy! It was just a birthday present for planet apes president !!! That's all ! Feels great to flip hamburgers and hip hop atop of good news...makes you feel vibrant and energized !!!

ARIZONA = UTOYA = GOVERNMENT‘S "AFTERLIFE" CASH & $$ FLASH MOB (there was no shooting in Utoya or Arizona, but tear gas and theater instead on faces of multiculturalism maniacs..your guilt or blame and shame weapon against us and our families in our own countries atop of forceful unemployment during so called "ECONOMIC CRISES" during which third world foreigners are allowed to rape, kill, and still is nothing else but fast way to early retirements for government related criminals/ terrorists...$$$ extra bonuses, and newly issued state identities while calling you a terrorists) !!! http://stateofterror.blogspot.... or http://stateofterror.wordpress...

OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION http://avsecbostjan.blogspot.c... or http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.... Whitie is fighting war on terrorism just to come home and be pronounced as terrorist...turned in Timothy, jobless, homeless ...YESSS, WE CAN...YESSS,  WE CAN...GABBY OPENED HER EYES (Obaminator’s psychotic speech in Tucson = failed “Apocalypse Now“)

WAKE-UP !!! WAKE UP PEOPLE BEFORE IT GETS ALL TO LATE ON PLANET  APES !!! TEARS WON'T DO YOU ANY GOOD !!! AS BUSH STATED "THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE PAID FOR"(to die ) !!

EVEN IF IRAQ WOULD  HAVE BEEN WAR FOR OIL ONLY,  VETERANS WOULDN'T NEVER EVER HAVE TO BE HOMELESS PEOPLE THE WAY THEY ARE AND NOR WOULD OUR PEOPLE HAVE TO DIE ALLOVER THE PLACE THE WAY THEY DO TO VERY TODAY(never ending “war on terror” story). BECAUSE EVEN IF WAR WAS FOR THE SAKE OF MONEY, MONEY SHOULD BE USED  FOR AMERICAN CITIZENS AND NOT WHAT THE CASE IS OR AGAINST WHITES(to destroy us allover the world) !!! You don't really proof for 911, just put  your sht together in your heads...THIS IS PLENTY ENOUGH TO HAVE O(B)SAMA  INDICTED FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE AMERICAN HUMANITY TOGETHER WITH HIS ZIONIST MASTERS) !!!

Don't worry O(s)bama, you have just saved USA what is lots of Dollars in  your DEBT DEALS as those best of America or Navy Seals would  also grew older and then you already know how it goes...DEAD & ILL = DEBT DEAL !!!

HOW MUCH FURTHER ARE WE WILLING TO GO IN ORDER TO PLEASE VERY SAME PEOPLE WHO DENY US EVEN THE RIGHT TO EXISTENCE(what is to you country without laws or lawless country in respect to your personal rights, but the one that in contrast to your denied basic human rights recognizes you extremely liable when payments are due) !!?

IS IT INDEPENDENCE THAT WE CELEBRATE OR DEPENDENCE (what are your credit card bills or alimony saying about it) !!? HOW IS YOUR DIABETES AND LOST MARRIAGES !!? FORECLOSURES AND  JOB SEARCH !!? THAT IS THE QUESTION TO BE OR NOT TO BE !!! IS IT LAND OF THE FREE OR STATE OF TERROR AGAINST OWN  POPULATION !!? IT IS TIME TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT COLOR ARE THE STRIPES ON OUR STAR SPANGLED BANNER !!! TIME TO DETERMINE WHOSE INDEPENDENCE/AMERICA, WE CELEBRATE TODAY(who wants to erase us and denies us the right to exist) !!! IT IS  IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHOM WE ADDRESS WITH "PRESIDENT" (STOP HUMILIATING YOURSELF) !!!

VOTING POLL:

DO WE NEED MORE PROOFS TO INDICT OBAMA AND BUSH ADMINISTRATION FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY !!?

1)NO, THEY ARE CLEARLY GUILTY AS OIL WAR NEVER EVER WAS REAL ISSUE IN GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITES. REAL ISSUE  ARE FACTS OR WHAT WE WITNESS TODAY WHEN VETERANS  ARE HOMELESS, JOBLESS, KILLED, ETC.

2)NO, AS 911 ALONE AS WELL AS ACTIONS IMPOSED AGAINST  WHITES IN USA (as well worldwide) ARE CLEARLY INDICATING ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY

3)YESS AS JUST YESTERDAY(for over 15 years to very yesterday), WE (news/media = vacuum world of lies) WERE TELLING YOU THAT UNEMPLOYMENT WAS AT 10% WHILE TODAY ONE IS AT 50% (HOW COME NO ONE QUESTION JOURNALISM LIKE THIS OR  WHAT IS WORLD OF LIES AND DEMENTIA)!

4)I AGREE WITH FIRST TWO ANSWERS ABOVE.  IT IS TIME TO PRESS CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST BOTH ADMINISTRATIONS DUE TO ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY FOR THE SAKE(SAFETY) OF US AND OUR CHILDREN(DO NOT TURN THEM IN WHITE REFUGEES ON PLANET APES OR WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE WHEN VISITING ABOVE PAGES) !!! 

Alindsay
Alindsay

I thought the suit was over Pells, not loans?

John Tucker
John Tucker

Thanks very much to pointing out the error. The post has been corrected.

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