Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College was indeed found eligible to participate in federal student aid programs in 2005 to 2010 and is not required to return $42-million in student aid as determined by a resolution reached with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). The DOE last week reversed its initial finding on the compliance of SMWC with regard to distance education funding.
“This is an affirmation that we were always compliant,” President Dottie L. King, Ph.D. stated, “We continue to focus on the future by embodying a spirit of student-centered academic innovation, faith and leadership to transform ourselves and to benefit our communities.”
More than nine years ago, an audit by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the DOE found that SMWC was allegedly not in compliance. After a more thorough review of the initial findings by the DOE, including the records of regular and substantive interactions between students and academic staff during the years audited and the favorable findings of SMWC’s accrediting agency regarding its academic model, the College has been deemed in full compliance with applicable law.
SMWC challenged an audit issued in 2012 by the OIG in which it concluded that the College was not eligible to participate in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 programs and improperly received $42-million in Title IV student-aid funds from 2005 to 2010, because it claimed that 50 percent or more of its students were enrolled in correspondence courses. While the College considered its online courses to be telecommunications courses during this period, the audit concluded they were correspondence courses.
SMWC’s Woods Online program began as the Women’s External Degree program in 1973. It was one of the earliest distance education programs in the nation. In 2005, the College expanded access to its undergraduate distance program to men and became known as Woods Online. SMWC is the oldest Catholic college in Indiana.
Today, Woods Online delivers quality education to students who wish to aspire higher in their careers and lives through a user-friendly online learning platform. The learning outcomes, program materials and assessments in online classes are aligned with SMWC’s on-campus courses with regular interaction between faculty and students a key feature in courses.