Practice Areas & Industries: Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, PC


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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Areas of Concentration

  • Title IV Eligibility & Compliance
  • Accreditation
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Program Reviews & IG Audits
  • State Licensing

Education has emerged as a major area of national attention and public policy debate.  Over the last decade, the federal government has significantly increased federal funding for the education and training of America's workforce.  Overall, the United States spends a higher percentage of its GDP on education than nearly every other developed country in the world—over $900 billion each year.  Increasingly, the federal and state governments and consumers have called for higher levels of accountability from educational institutions for this significant investment.   There is probably no more heavily reviewed and audited area of the education sector than in the case of the federal student financial aid programs.

This increased federal activity has resulted in a complex regulatory framework which significantly impacts the administration of higher education institutions, from long term, strategic planning to day-to-day operations. Such a highly-regulated environment demands careful assessment and monitoring of internal risks and compliance.  These changes also highlight the need for close monitoring of legislative and regulatory actions by Congress and the Executive Branch and a positive working relationship with the relevant regulatory agencies.

Our education lawyers and professionals represent educational institutions across the United States and abroad. Our clients include privately owned and publicly traded schools and school systems, private nonprofit colleges and universities, public institutions of higher education, private equity firms, lenders and others active in postsecondary education.  We advise our clients on matters pertaining to federal regulatory compliance, facilities and programmatic growth and expansion, mergers and acquisitions, program review and audit resolution, government relations, administrative and judicial litigation, including False Claims Act and consumer protection matters, risk assessment, accreditation compliance and proceedings, and state licensure and approval requirements and proceedings.

Our education practice is oriented toward helping clients design and implement strategies to achieve their educational and business goals within a complex regulatory framework.

We counsel clients on the avoidance and minimization of regulatory problems and we have extensive, successful experience in:

  • Structuring growth and consolidation transactions to avoid or minimize growth restrictions and disruption of access to student financial aid caused by changes of ownership or control
  • Representation of institutions and investors in transactions involving merger, acquisition, public offerings and organic growth
  • Preventive and routine compliance reviews
  • Addressing and resolving regulatory compliance issues involving institutions of higher education, lenders, secondary markets, and guarantors.
  • Resolution of program reviews and Office of the Inspector General audits conducted by the US Department of Education
  • Representation of institutions and individuals in connection with civil and criminal False Claims Act investigations and litigation
  • Establishing institutional and program eligibility to participate in the various federal student assistance programs administered by the US Department of Education under the Higher Education Act
  • Obtaining and maintaining accreditation from institutional or programmatic accrediting bodies
  • Joint ventures involving shared educational resources, contracts with domestic and foreign institutions
  • Distance learning ventures
  • Negotiating contracts and preferred lending arrangements with private student loan companies
  • Working with government officials to address policy concerns and ensure that clients are not negatively impacted by new policies, and
  • Developing legislative proposals designed to improve educational results and provide greater benefits for students

In all cases, we seek practical solutions and, where feasible, avoid protracted proceedings.  When warranted and necessary, we litigate to defend against federal and state audit findings, program reviews, monetary assessments, disallowances, enforcement and adverse actions.  We represent clients in administrative proceedings before the US Department of Education, state agencies, and accrediting bodies, and in judicial proceedings in the federal courts.