Statement on Provisional Status Designation by the U.S. Department of Education

Cornell was recently notified by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that with respect to Cornell’s participation in the federal student aid programs it has received a provisional certification status for a three-year period ending December 2021. Cornell will seek regular approval from ED in 2021. Cornell’s provisional status was based on compliance deficiencies noted during Cornell’s routine annual audits over the period 2012-2018. Cornell is absolutely committed to addressing and preventing recurrences.

The following FAQ provides greater context to the designation:

What is Provisional Status?

Provisional status is a U.S. Department of Education (ED) designation given to institutions that utilize federal financial aid but have been found lacking in their compliance with ED regulations. [ED regulations contain detailed rules related to institutional administration of the federal student aid programs.] The provisional status designation is the outcome of ED’s review of Cornell’s independent annual audits of its administration of the federal financial aid programs. During the period of provisional status, the University remains fully eligible to participate in all federal and state financial aid programs.

Why Did Cornell Receive Provisional Status and What Are We Doing to Address Concerns?

ED identified a pattern of administrative lapses regarding the management of federal financial aid funds and related processes. We are reviewing and revamping all financial aid processes, systems, and protocols to address compliance issues, with the highest level of University leadership actively involved.

What Impact Will Provisional Status Have on Cornell?

Provisional status requires the University to request and receive ED approval prior to offering new academic programs; establishing an additional location at which an academic program is delivered and in connection with which financial aid is awarded; or making other substantial changes, including changes to a program if the program wishes to have access to federal financial aid through ED.

Michael I. Kotlikoff