Federal Requirement to Track Attendance of Student Aid Recipients? Since when?

In five years of teaching at the college level I was never told I was required to take attendance–and I never did take attendance. I wouldn’t have known how to report attendance to any central authority even if I did record it for myself.

At no college I have ever attended has it been required that professors take attendance–I know this because most of them didn’t do it.

When I began working here where I now work (which, to be clear, is a university), I was told I was required to take attendance and told how to report it. I took this to be a quirk of the particular place I am teaching at.

But I discovered later that they were requiring this because there is a federal requirement that the attendance of financial aid recipients must be tracked.

I thought maybe it was a rule that applied to some schools but not others based on size or something or other. But no–googling shows me that this is in fact an actual federal requirement.

So why the heck have I not been required to take attendance all along? Why is my current school the only one I’ve ever taught at or attended in which attendance recording is a requirement? Is this a new thing, maybe?

I’ve taught courses at a large public university in the southeast US for six years and this is news to me.

It extends back at least to 2005. In that year, I had a student who was using GI Bill assistance stop attending at midterms. The registrar asked me after the class ended if his F was a legitimate or if he had stopped attending, and explained why I did keep attendance in that course (it was a remedial course meeting twice a week for 3 hours a night), so I had detailed records to present.

I’m at a different school now, but my current school also asks us to keep track. We report grades through drop-down menus on a web page. If you report an F, a new menu appears with three options: ‘F was earned’, ‘Student never attended’, ‘Student last attended on…’. If you choose the last option, you’re supposed to give an approximate date of last attendance.

The key here is that the date is approximate. We’re told that if you keep attendance, great, that makes your work easier. Otherwise, we’re to look up the last graded work received (e.g., quiz/exam) and use that as a proxy for the date of last attendance. Missing by a few sessions isn’t a problem. Much financial aid is contingent upon maintaining status as a full-time student, and this is a check to determine whether a student carrying full credit load is legitimately a full-time student.

I’ve been doing some googling on this subject because it is unknown to me. I’ve seen a bunch of college financial aid web pages that say “attendance verification” is required by the Department of Education.

The material I read sometimes put the burden of this on the students – the school provides forms typically called “Attendance verification Forms” that the student must bring to all their classes and have the instructor sign off on it, in order to verify the student has physically appeared in class.

Most interesting is that this has to be done at the beginning of the term, not at the end. As far as I can see, the requirement is not that students must attend a minimum percentage of their class hours, but that they are not “ghost” students who never show up yet collect assistance anyway.

Perhaps the OP can get some clarification from someone in your financial aid office. On the surface it doesn’t appear that you would need to do this on a daily basis. Perhaps once you’ve confirmed that the students on your roster have appeared in person at least once, you won’t need to continue. Here arethree sites that refer to the requirement.

I found this at http://ifap.ed.gov/ifap
(and it wasn’t easy)

and and an explanation of when Title IV funds are unearned due to withdrawal from all courses. In the case of an unofficial withdrawal

and the academically related activity could be anything from attending class to taking a quiz to logging into Blackboard.
It’s not a federal requirement- either your school is required to take attendance by some other entity (like a state agency) or your school is requiring it because it simplifies determining the withdrawal date which is needed to figure out if funds have to be returned to the Feds

Back in the 50s when I was a student, Penn “required” attendance to be taken and there was a cut limit (6 classes for a 3 credit course), but I heard of only one case where it actually happened (he was a German philosopher, which may have something to do with it; maybe he thought there was Hörgeld).

The school I work at does this to at least make an effort to keep people from just laundering student loan money-- if a student doesn’t show in the first week of class we are to report them; at the end of the term if someone gets an F we have to report the approximate last date attended.

That first part probably explains why so many of my teachers only took attendance for the first couple of classes. The very first day is also useful to make sure you didn’t wind up in the wrong class by mistake, but they always did it longer than that.

In both my full-time job and my adjunct job at another college, the 12th class day is the “census date” and we have to call roll until then. On the census date, we have to log into our CampusConnect and certify our rosters–the only thing you really do is click a bubble next to any student on the roster who never attended class.

If the student never attended any classes on his schedule, he is dropped and receives no financial aid.

At the college I taught at last year, one of my students withdrew from classes partway through the fall semester. The registrar e-mailed all of us professors who were teaching his courses and asked us to estimate the last day he attended our class.

My wife used to teach and administrate for a well known technical school (you know, the ‘learn to be a pharmacy tech’ type) where many of the students received federal assistance. They were required to do this. I think the rules are different for these schools than for 4 year college programs.

If all you report is the last day of attendance, then a cunning student who doesn’t want to attend classes but wants to retain whatever benefits he’s getting might simply show up on the last day of class.