Summary: The effect of the Solomon-Pombo Amendment on the Title IV Student Financial Assistance Programs
SUBJECT: The effect of the Solomon-Pombo Amendment on the Title IV Student Financial Assistance Programs
Section 514 of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1997 (the Act) was enacted on September 30, 1996, as part of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act , 1997 (Public Law 104-208). This section of the Act provides that Fiscal Year (FY) 1997 and subsequent year Federal funds - including certain Department of Education funds - cannot be provided by contract or by grant to institutions of higher education that have been found to have denied or restricted access to military recruiters or have denied or restricted the establishment, maintenance or efficient operation of a Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) unit. This section of the Act is referred to as the Solomon-Pombo Amendment. The purpose of this letter is to explain the effect of these restrictions on the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.
It is important to note that an institution's policies with regard to military recruiting and ROTC participation do not, by themselves, automatically render the institution ineligible for Federal funds covered by the Solomon-Pombo Amendment. The Solomon-Pombo Amendment provides that denial of Federal funding only occurs as a result of a determination by the Secretary of Defense (or his or her designee) that the institution has in fact denied access.
The Department of Defense published an interim rule in the Federal Register on April 8, 1997 (62 Fed. Reg. 16691-95) to implement the Solomon-Pombo Amendment and similar provisions found in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1995 (Public Law 103-337) and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 (Public Law 104-106). The interim rule lists the other Federal agencies, in addition to the Department of Education, affected by the Solomon-Pombo Amendment. In the interim rule the Secretary of Defense delegated the authority to make the required determinations to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy (Assistant Secretary, DoD).
The interim rule established procedures that provide an institution the opportunity to clarify or modify its policy regarding military recruiting and/or ROTC access prior to the referral of the institution, by one of the military services, to the Assistant Secretary, DoD for his or her determination. If, after reviewing any documentation submitted by the institution, the Assistant Secretary, DoD determines that the institution does have a policy that restricts military recruitment or ROTC participation, he or she will make that determination known to the institution and to the appropriate Federal agencies, including the Department of Education.
If an institution has been determined by the Assistant Secretary, DoD to have restrictive military recruiting or ROTC policies or practices it may petition the Assistant Secretary, DoD to have that determination rescinded, if it provides the Assistant Secretary, DoD with evidence that the prohibited policies or practices have been eliminated or modified.
Covered Institutions of Higher Education
The Solomon-Pombo Amendment applies to any domestic college, university, or other institution, providing postsecondary courses of study, including foreign campuses of such institutions. If a "sub-element" of an institution (such as a law school) is determined to have a prohibited policy or practice regarding military recruitment or ROTC activity, then only that sub-element, and not the parent institution, becomes ineligible to receive the Federal grants and contracts covered by the Solomon-Pombo Amendment. If an entire higher education system (e.g., a system of state universities) is determined to have a policy that restricts military recruiting or ROTC activity, then all of the individual institutions that make up that system would be affected. However, if the system does not have prohibited policies, but one or more individual institutions or campuses of the system has a restrictive policy or practice, then only those institutions will be affected and not the others within the system.
Effects of the Solomon-Pombo Amendment on the Title IV Student Financial Assistance Programs
If an institution is found by the Department of Defense to be ineligible in an award year, that determination will affect any Title IV student financial assistance programs that are considered grants or contracts to the institution made for that award year and for subsequent award years.1 However, the Department of Education has determined that most of the Title IV student financial assistance programs are not affected by the Solomon-Pombo Amendment.
1Please note that the Solomon-Pombo Amendment also affects other discretionary grants from the Department of Education, for example, FIPSE and TRIO awards.
The following Title IV student financial assistance programs ARE NOT affected by the Solomon-Pombo Amendment since they are not considered grants or contracts to an institution:
- The Federal Pell Grant Program
- The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program
- The Federal Family Educational Loan (FFEL) Program
- The State Student Incentive Grant (SSIG) Program
- The Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship (Byrd) Program
- The National Early Intervention Scholarship and Partnership (NEISP) Program2
2States that receive National Early Intervention Scholarship and Partnership (NEISP) Program grants may continue to award student scholarships to be utilized at institutions that have been determined to be ineligible by the Department of Defense. States may not, however, award sub-grants or contracts for NEISP services to such institutions.
The following Title IV student financial assistance programs ARE affected by the Solomon-Pombo Amendment:
- The Federal Perkins Loan Program
- The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Program
- The Federal Work-Study (FWS) Program
Collectively referred to as the campus-based programs, these three programs depend on institutional applications for funding. Once funds are received, the institution determines which students will receive allotted funds, within statutory and regulatory guidelines. Thus, these funds are considered, for these purposes, to be grants to the institution and are covered by the Solomon-Pombo Amendment and their use by an affected institution is restricted according to the policies discussed in the remainder of this letter.
General Restrictions and Disbursement Exception
When the Department of Education is notified by the Assistant Secretary, DoD that an institution has been determined to have a policy or practice that denies access to military recruiting or ROTC activity, it will send a letter to the President of the institution confirming the Title IV restrictions and the effective date of the institution's loss of eligibility. However, campus-based funds disbursed by institutions to eligible students before the effective date of the loss of eligibility will not be affected nor will disbursements scheduled to be made to an otherwise eligible student for the payment period in which the effective date falls if, prior to the effective date:
(1) The institution had received a Student Aid Report (SAR) or an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) for the applicable award year with an official expected family contribution (EFC) for the student;
(2) The student was enrolled at the institution for the payment period; and
(3) The student had been awarded funds for the payment period under the campus-based program(s) in question.
Program Specific Restriction Information
Specific discussions of the effect of the Solomon-Pombo Amendment on each of the three campus-based programs follows.
Federal Perkins Loan Program- An affected institution may not disburse to its students (or, in the case of an ineligible sub-element, may not disburse to any of the sub-element's students) any of its Federal Capital Contribution (FCC) or required institutional matching funds for the award year in which the effective date falls, nor any subsequent year's FCC or required institutional matching funds under the Federal Perkins Loan Program except as provided in the earlier discussion under the Disbursement Exception section of this letter. However, the institution may continue to award and disburse Federal Perkins Loans to students (or to the ineligible sub-element's students) using other monies from the Perkins Loan Revolving Fund (e.g., cash on hand and collections).
FSEOG Program - An affected institution may not disburse to its students (or, in the case of an ineligible sub-element, may not disburse to any of the sub-element's students) any of its FSEOG allocation for the award year in which the effective date falls, nor any subsequent year's FSEOG allocation except as provided in the earlier discussion under the Disbursement Exception section of this letter.
FWS Program - Generally, an affected institution may not pay any of its students (or, in the case of an ineligible sub-element, may not pay any of the sub-element's students) with any of its FWS allocation for the award year in which the effective date falls, nor with any subsequent year's FWS allocation except as provided in the earlier discussion under the Disbursement Exception section of this letter. However, an FWS student may be paid with FWS funds for work performed before the end of the payment period in which the effective date falls, even if the student has not received payment before the end of that payment period. Note that, regardless of the ability of an institution to use FWS funds, all students must be paid for all work performed. If the institution is unable to use FWS funds because of the restrictions placed on it by the Solomon-Pombo Amendment, it must pay the student with other funds.
The above restrictions apply regardless of how the campus-based programs are administered at an institution. If a sub-element is found to be ineligible, it does not matter whether the sub-element receives funds directly from the Department of Education or the parent institution provides a portion of its allocation to the sub-element or centrally awards aid to the sub-element's students. The students of the ineligible sub-element may no longer receive any of the prohibited funding. The same restrictions apply if a higher education system administers campus-based programs for all of its institutions, and a single institution or campus is found to be ineligible.
When an institution receives campus-based funds based in part on students of an ineligible sub-element or a higher education system receives funds based on students of an ineligible institution or campus of the system, it may be necessary for the Department of Education to reduce the amount of campus-based funds allocated to the institution or higher education system. Specific instructions on the application process (including the completion of the Fiscal Operations Report and Application to participate (FISAP)) and the funding process will be provided to those institutions and higher education systems that are affected.
If you need additional information or have questions regarding the Department of Defense's implementation of the provisions of the Solomon-Pombo Amendment, please contact William J. Carr at the Department of Defense on (703) 697-8444. If you have questions concerning the Solomon-Pombo Amendment's effect on the Title IV student financial assistance programs, please contact Harold McCullough at the Department of Education on (202) 708-8242.
Elizabeth M. Hicks
Deputy Assistant Secretary
Student Financial Assistance Programs