Last month the embattled institution found out it had been taken off probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement; now it's learned the feds are no longer demanding the school hand over $11 million.
U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee made the surprise announcement yesterday, ending a 13-year battle between TSU and the U.S. Department of Education over documentation of student-aid practices.
The initial penalty was about $40 million, TSU spokeswoman Eva Pickens tells Hair Balls. But the school engaged in a long bureaucratic battle to show that DOE had assessed penalties after looking at incorrect and incomplete information.
"This has been a very long journey for this great institution. TSU owes no more money. The new TSU is ready to move forward with a clean record from the Department of Education during President Barack Obama's administration," Lee said at the announcement ceremony.
After the DOE reduced the penalty to about $15 million, TSU paid between $3 million and $4 million to the feds, and they won't get that money back, Pickens says.
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But the onus of facing quarterly (or even annual) further payments of $3 million would be a significant load on the university, she says, so they'll gladly take the settlement.
One other thing it allows TSU to do -- apply once more for DOE grants. They were barred from that while the dispute was ongoing.
Pickens, good spokeswoman that she is, gave credit to both Lee and new TSU president John Rudley, who she calls "a numbers man -- he follows policies and procedures, and he loves accountability."
Which, of course, would be something of a change for the Tigers.