Yesterday HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing (PIH) issued Notice PIH 2015-21 to amend the definition of tuition found in the final rule on “Eligibility of Students for Assisted Housing under Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937” published on December 30, 2005. The original rule, which applies only to Section 8 programs, including the housing choice voucher (HCV) program, had two parts. Part A concerned initial and ongoing eligibility of college students. Part B required PHAs to include in annual income some student financial aid for some college students. Under the 2005 rule, student financial aid is completely excluded from annual income if the student is:
- At least 24 years of age with at least one dependent child, or
- Applying for or receiving assistance with his or her parents
If neither of the above applies, then the PHA must include in annual income the amount of student financial aid exceeding tuition and required fees. Until today's notice, required fees were determined by the PHA based on information obtained from the institution in which the student was enrolled. Today's notice adds “other required fees and charges” to the definition of tuition and provides the following guidance:
Prior to this notice, when determining an applicant’s or participant’s income, HUD’s definition of tuition required PHAs to defer to the definition of tuition used by the institution of higher education in which the student is enrolled. The definition can vary across institutions and academic programs. With the inclusion of “other required fees and charges” being added to the definition of tuition, PHAs may experience difficulty in determining income.
The Department of Education defines tuition as the amount of money charged to students for instructional services which may be charged per term, per course, or per credit. The Department of Education further defines tuition and fees as the amount of tuition and required fees covering a full academic year most frequently charged to students. These values represent what a typical student would be charged and may not be the same for all students at an institution. If tuition is charged on a per-credit-hour basis, the average full-time credit hour load for an entire academic year is used to estimate average tuition. Required fees include all fixed sum charges that are required of a large proportion of all students. The student who does not pay the charges is an exception. Examples of required fees include, but are not limited to, writing and science lab fees and fees specific to the student’s major or program (i.e., nursing program).
Expenses related to attending an institution of higher education must not be included as tuition. Examples of these expenses include, but are not limited to, room and board, books, supplies, meal plans, transportation and parking, student health insurance plans, and other non-fixed sum charges.