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Bryan Horwath, Forum News Service, Published January 26 2013

Dickinson State to pay enrollment survey penalty with oil money

DICKINSON, N.D. - An appeal submitted by Dickinson State University over a fine slapped on the institution by the U.S. Department of Education last year has been rejected.

The university announced Friday that it has agreed to pay a $32,500 penalty for not completing an enrollment data survey on time. The DOE sent a letter to DSU President D.C. Coston dated Jan. 18 outlining its reasons for rejecting the university’s appeal following the handing down of the fine in September.

The fine was levied after the DOE determined that DSU failed to “accurately respond to and submit” Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System informational surveys during the fall 2011 IPEDS collection period.

In an internal email forwarded to The Press by university spokesperson Marie Moe, Coston stated that the school planned to pay the fine with “non-state appropriated oil well funds.” When reached by phone Friday, Coston said he was disappointed the appeal was turned down, but that he is encouraged that DSU is moving forward after an enrollment scandal that plagued the university before Coston’s tenure began in 2011.

“This is just part of what we’ve been working on as we continue to correct the challenges Dickinson State has had going back several years,” Coston said. “We continue to correct things and we continue to work with organizations such as the Department of Education on getting databases corrected.”

Part of a collection program run by the DOE’s National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS surveys are sent to all institutions of higher education that receive federal student aid.

In the recent letter to DSU by Mary Gust, director of administrative actions and appeals for the DOE, it was stated that DSU failed to submit proper enrollment information.

“There are two times per year that you are required to report (the IPEDS info) — one is in the fall and one is in the spring,” said Coston. “We will be submitting on time the regular data for the current period (due by April 10) along with the corrected data that will meet the requirements of what are called for in the DOE letter.”

Although it called the infractions “serious” in its letter, the DOE added that it “appreciates Dickinson (State’s) actions to ensure that this problem does not reoccur.” The DOE also noted DSU had submitted all of its fall 2012 IPEDS survey components on time.