The Department of Education needs to collect additional data that would help the agency assess the performance of programs that help college students with disabilities pay for school, according to a new GAO report.

The report looked at how the Education Department has built criteria for students with disabilities to meet standards for funding help, but at the same time does not collect enough information about the disability status of the students that are helped through the program.

“As a result,” GAO said, the Education Department “can’t fully evaluate whether the program is reaching the students it was designed to serve.”

The report looks at eight college grants programs funded through the Federal TRIO grant programs (TRIO), which Congress has funded with more than $1 billion, and the extent to which the Education Department has collected and reported information on students with disabilities served through TRIO,” the report states.

GAO said it found inconsistencies with data collection among the eight programs, particularly with participants in the Student Support Services (SSS) program.

Based on those findings, the Federal watchdog agency recommended that the Education Department collect “data from SSS grantees on each participant’s disability status and use this information to report on program performance for participants with disabilities.” The Education Department concurred with the recommendation, and laid out plans to collect and use that information to report on program performance for participants with disabilities.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.