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    March 2019

    Federal Requirements for Missing Student Notification

    Federal Requirements for Missing Student Notification

    Are your institution’s missing student notification policies compliant with federal mandates? In 2010, U.S. Department of Education (ED) regulations on notification requirements took effect with the reauthorization and expansion of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA).

    These regulations apply to all institutions participating in the Title IV federal student financial aid program. They are triggered when a student residing in on-campus housing at a U.S. or foreign campus of the institution is missing for at least 24 hours. The regulations do not apply to students who live on campus in the U.S. but are temporarily residing off-campus in study abroad programs.

    Institutions may go further than the federal requirements and adopt policies for all missing students or students missing less than 24 hours. For example, New York University’s policy applies to all missing students, including those enrolled in NYU-sponsored overseas programs.


    The HEOA mandates that institutions:

    • Develop a policy for reporting students missing from campus residential facilities for more than 24 hours
    • Provide a way for each student to name a confidential emergency contact to be notified if the student is determined to be missing
    • Establish procedures for notifying the designated emergency contact if the student is over age 18 or the students’ parents if the student is under 18
    • Advise students that local law enforcement will be contacted if they are missing for more than 24 hours
    • Publish the missing student policies and procedures in their annual security report

    Institutions that do not comply face a penalty of up to $57,317, as of 2019, per violation and possible exclusion from Title IV student financial assistance programs for repeated violations. Title IV programs include Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, the Federal Work-Study Program, Federal Perkins Loans, Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership, and the Direct Loan Program. Fortunately, compliance is relatively straightforward if institutions follow the recommendations in Chapter 10 of ED’s Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting.

    Resources and Sample Policies

    Campus Legal Information Clearinghouse, Summary of the New Campus Safety Disclosure Responsibilities

    Clark University Missing Student Policy

    Penn State Missing Student Policy

    Roanoke College Missing Student Notification Policy and Procedures


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