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The U.S. Department of Education has again put Michigan State University on notice. The Dr. Larry Nassar scandal opened the university to scrutiny from state and federal agencies, and those investigations are highlighting an obvious lack of administrative oversight at MSU.

In a letter dated April 23, the Federal Student Aid division of the Education Department informed interim President John Engler that it had “placed Michigan State University on HCM1 (Heightened Cash Monitoring 1) Method of Payment, effective immediately.”

The student aid office took this action “in conjunction with the Department’s continuing review of MSU’s administration of its responsibilities” under the Clery Act, which requires campuses to disclose campus crime statistics.

So what does this mean exactly? For now, it’s mainly a symbolic gesture, letting MSU know that the Student Aid office has its eye on the university, and that it does not have confidence in the institution’s administrative capacity. Heightened cash monitoring basically makes schools jump through more procedural hurdles to draw down federal student aid funds.

If the Education Department pursues further action, this has the potential to deal a serious blow to MSU, given the free flowing federal aid that allows so many students easy access to loans and grants. Without that aid, students would likely look to attend school elsewhere.

This latest action follows several others from the department led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is committed to holding the university in her home state to account for the abuse suffered by hundreds of young women.

In February, DeVos announced a new Title IX investigation into MSU’s bungling of reports against Nassar of sexual violence. She sent the department’s Office for Civil Rights team to campus, which joined a separate team from the Federal Student Aid office that was already looking into Clery Act compliance.

“Every student across every campus should know that I am committed to ensuring all students have access to a learning environment free from sexual misconduct and discrimination and that all institutions that fall short will be held accountable for violations of federal law,” DeVos stated earlier this year.

She is holding true to that promise. Students at MSU — and on all campuses — deserve a college environment committed to keeping them safe and seeking swift justice when students are harmed.

MSU administrators failed to do that, and now the university is paying the price.

ijacques@detroitnews.com

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