Two Georgia colleges on list for providing misleading aid information

Two Georgia universities may be in violation of federal financial aid rules according to an investigation by the Democratic staff of a U.S. House committee.

Emory University and Georgia Tech were among more than 100 schools found by staffers of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to be implying on their websites that applicants for federal aid must submit forms other than the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Some of the other forms require a fee.

The Higher Education Act prohibits institutions from charging a fee to process FASFA forms for federal aid. Colleges can require applicants also to complete other forms — such as the CSS/Financial Aid Profile created by the College Board — to receive aid from their schools, but not for federal aid. The College Board charges applicants $25 to complete its profile form.

By not clarifying the aid requirements on their websites, the institutions may be “creating improper and unnecessary barriers” to federal aid, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings said in a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Cummings, D-Md., is the ranking Democrat on the House panel.

Spokesmen for both Georgia Tech and Emory said Tuesday their schools require completion of the College Board application for school-based financial aid, but do not require it for any federal aid.

This is the first year Georgia Tech has asked applicants for the additional College Board profile as well as another scholarship/aid application specific to the school. Both schools noted that fee waivers are available for low-income applicants.