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As you may be aware, institutions of higher education nationwide have come under increased scrutiny by the federal government regarding access, affordability, loan debt and the employability of college graduates. As mandatory requirements have escalated, colleges and universities are expected to implement new policies and systems and commit personnel to address these changes.
Southern is currently addressing some issues of non-compliance — primarily student attendance reporting and confirmation of enrollment practices. This has resulted in the university being designated with provisional status by the U.S. Department of Education. This is not a probationary status, but what the provisional status means is that Southern must request and receive approval before it can offer any new academic programs, deliver programs at an off-site location, or make changes to existing programs, such as offering them online or adding a post-graduate certificate.
You should know that this status does not restrict any Southern undergraduate student from receiving any form of federal or state financial aid. Graduate students pursuing sixth year certificate, master’s, or doctoral degree programs are also unaffected.
In addition, there is no impact on existing undergraduate and graduate degree programs, meaning that current or new students enrolled in these programs will not be affected. However, a few educator certification preparation programs may no longer be eligible to receive federal financial aid. Changes and future effective dates(s) will be clearly communicated to all impacted students in these programs.
Southern’s provisional status will remain in effect until March 2019. But please be assured that we are working to improve our administrative processes in the identified areas. Our new president, Dr. Joe Bertolino, has made full compliance with federal requirements and subsequent removal of the provisional status his number one priority.
While I want to emphasize that provisional status does not impact our current undergraduates and the great majority of graduate students, I do believe it is important that you are aware of this issue. And in the spirit of transparency and partnership with our students and their families, we wanted you to hear from us directly.
FAQs available on our website provide more specific information about the issue. Or please email EM@SouthernCT.edu if you have additional questions.
I thank for your understanding and I wish your student a healthy, happy and productive academic year.
Tracy M. Tyree, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs , Southern Connecticut State University