The following section, with its accompanying exhibits, document Webster University’s compliance with the following Commission policies regarding Federal Compliance:
- Credits, program length and tuition.
- Institutional compliance, Title IV
- Visits to off-campus locations
- Advertising and recruitment materials
- Institutional records of student complaints
- Third-party comment
a.) Credits, Program Length, and Tuition
Webster University utilizes semester credit hours to document student learning experiences in both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Official transcripts (enrollment history) follow common practices used in higher education (i.e. course title, level, credit hours, grade, term/date, location). Courses are assigned credits using University policies, which define minimum contact hours per semester credit award. Courses are scheduled throughout the University in traditional semester length formats (16 week semester), as well as in accelerated 8-9 week schedule formats. The latter format is used in our adult and evening program schedules. The University’s academic calendar, scheduling formats, grading policies, credit hour descriptions, degree requirements, program length, transfer policies, etc., follow best practices and guidelines endorsed by professional organizations such as AACRAO, NAFSA, etc.
These academic policies and formats are all published in the University’s academic catalogs (available online).
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.1 Undergraduate Catalog, HLC0.2 Graduate Catalog, HLC01a and HLC02a Online Catalogs]
|HLC0.1||UG Catalog - Main Campus Main Campus Exhibit Room|
|HLC0.1a||UG Catalog Online version|
|HLC0.2||GR Catalog - Main Campus Exhibit Room|
|HLC0.2a||GR Catalog Online version|
As part of the self-study, the committee found compliance throughout all University programs with credit hour awards, program length, and tuition.
Tuition rates are established annually, and are based on program level (undergraduate, graduate), location, and other factors. For example, military students at military installations are charged tuition rates established through annual negotiations with our military contract agencies. A few specialized academic programs have slightly differential tuition rates due to their more expensive instructional costs (doctoral program, M.S. in Nurse Anesthesia, B.F.A. in theatre conservatory.) Programs at our international campuses have tuition fees charged in the local currency, and reflect institutional costs and local market conditions. The self-study committee found these differential tuition rates to be justified.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.19 Tuition Schedules]
|HLC0.19-1||Webster Tuition Schedule: Undergraduate|
|HLC0.19-2||Webster Tuition Schedule: Graduate|
Program length (total number of credit hours required for each degree program) for Webster programs is similar to other programs at other accredited institutions:
- Bachelors programs - 128 credits
- Masters programs - 36 credits
Specialized programs also have comparable program length requirements with other institutions, and with their specialized accreditation or certification requirements (if any).
b.) Compliance with Higher Education Reauthorization Act (Title IV)
Administration of federal, state, and institutional financial aid programs is a complex task that involves the cooperation of various entities across the university. Annual, independent audits required by federal regulation seldom produce significant issues or concerns with the institution’s compliance with applicable laws, regulations and rules.
On the rare occasion that a significant finding is made, the university acts decisively to address and correct any deficiency in its processes. Consequently, the university has not been subjected to any limitation, suspension, or termination actions by the U.S. Department of Education or any other applicable authority.
Webster University’s official cohort default rate, as calculated by the U.S. Department of Education for the last three years, has been below 2%.
FY 2002 : 1.4%
FY 2003 : 1.2%
FY 2004 : 1.0%
These rates are well below the levels that would trigger any limitation, suspension, or termination proceedings. Indeed these default rates are low enough that the university is exempt from various federal regulations (delayed disbursements for first-time borrowers, multiple disbursements for single term loans, etc.).
School as Lender
Because the university’s cohort default rate is below 10%, we are eligible to operate as a lender under the Federal Family Educational Loan Programs (FFELP) and have chosen to do so. Per federal regulation, the revenue generated under the School as Lender program are used to cover administrative costs, reduce loan fees otherwise charged to students, and to fund need based grants.
In recent months there has been a variety of investigations by states’ Attorneys General, U.S. Senators, and other governing authorities into potential problems in the relationships between student loan providers and school personnel. To date, Webster University has been asked to provide information to a variety of these constituencies and has complied without any resultant call for corrective action.
In summary the university believes itself to be currently in compliance with the diverse requirements and regulations surrounding its administration of student aid programs.
Given the complexity of aid programs and the unique nature of its multi-campus operation, isolated incidences of non-compliance may occasionally arise but are normally minor in nature. The university is vigilant in looking for potential compliance problems and proactive in addressing them when they arise so that students and their families can rely upon student aid to assist them in fulfilling their educational goals.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.20 Title IV Compliance]
|HLC0.20-1||Title IV Compliance - Title IV Audit: 2005/2006|
|HLC0.20-2||Title IV Compliance - Title IV Audit: 2007|
c.) Federal Compliance Visits to Off-Campus Locations
Webster University has assisted the Commission with various site visits. Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, numerous site visits by the Commission were made. In recognition of its expertise in managing extended campus locations and programs, the current “Statement of Affiliation Status” permitted the University to open new sites without seeking prior Commission approval. This authority was reflective of the strong, documented, and tested multi-site management skills of Webster University.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.21 Federal Compliance Visit Reports]
|HLC0.21-1||Reports of Federal Compliance Site Visits - Title IV and AI33: 2005/2006|
|HLC0.21-2||Reports of Federal Compliance Site Visits - Title IV and AI33: 2007|
As part of new U.S. Department of Education rules, we understand that the Commission will need to amend its policies regarding “blanket approval” to open new sites, and Webster University will fully cooperate with any new procedures, guidelines or policies implement by the Commission.
d.) Advertising and Recruitment Materials
A comprehensive listing of advertising and recruitment materials in which the University’s affiliation with the Commission is mentioned is available. The University only makes reference to its affiliation with the Commission in printed materials and does not do so in other advertising and recruitment venues (billboards, radio advertisements, etc.). In each instance the Commission’s web address and local telephone number is listed.
A recommendation of the self-study process was to further limit the references to the Commission, and to maintain a single Web site where accurate and complete information could be maintained for all of the University’s accreditations approvals, licensures, and memberships. This recommendation has been implemented. This Web site includes the use of the Commission’s mark, with its hyperlink to the Commission’s information on Webster University.
[EXHIBIT: Webster Accreditation Page, HLC).22 List of Advertising and Recruitment Materials]
|HLC0.13||Webster Accreditation Page|
|HLC0.22||List of Advertising & Recruitment Materials - Main Campus Exhibit Room|
e.) Organizational Records of Student Complaints
Webster University prides itself on student-centered practices and high levels of service. When complaints are received, administrative offices are expected to respond efficiently and professionally, and to assist students with the resolution of the problem.
The self-study identified three administrative offices where formal and serious complaints are received: Executive Office (President’s Office), Dean of Student’s Office, and Office of Academic Affairs. These offices maintain records of formal and serious student complaints and their resolution (nontrivial complaints, made formally in writing, signed by the student, and addressed to the proper administrative office). Methods utilized to organize these complaints vary by office, and include a log (Student Affairs and President’s Office), and a case filing system (Academic Affairs).
Other administrative and academic offices manage non-serious student complaints in efficient and satisfactory ways.
f.) Third Party Comment
The Self-Study Committee gave careful attention to disseminating information about the self-study and the HLC Visit to its constituencies. Announcements, following the Commission’s models, were posted at every campus of the University. Additionally, a public notice was placed on the university’s website, and several advertisements were purchased to place the notice in local newspapers. These notices have been posted since December 2007.
[EXHIBIT: HLC0.5 Third Party Comment]
|HLC0.5||Third Party Notice|