Summary: Invitation to schools to submit proposals to become experimental sites for the purpose of testing alternative methods of administering Title IV student aid programs.
Subject: Invitation to schools to submit proposals to become
experimental sites for the purpose of testing
alternative methods of administering Title IV
student aid programs.
Reference: Federal Register Notice (April 25, 1995)
We believe that, over the course of the past year, we have made
significant progress in simplifying regulations and administrative
processes for the Federal student assistance programs. Our
efforts were directed at reducing regulatory burden on
institutions, students, and families, and increasing institutional
flexibility. We are now in the process of undertaking a series of
additional initiatives to free postsecondary schools from
administrative burdens that unnecessarily draw resources away from
their educational mission. One of these initiatives is the solicitation
of proposals to reinvent the administration of Federal student
assistance programs through the use of the experimental sites
authority contained in Title IV of the Higher Education Act
On April 25, 1995, we published in the Federal Register a notice
inviting institutions of higher education to propose one or more
experiments that would test new ways of administering the Federal
student assistance programs. It is our hope that this invitation
will encourage institutions to develop truly innovative strategies
that can relieve unnecessary burden while maintaining program
accountability. We hope that the results of these "experiments"
will assist the Department in its continuing efforts to improve
Title IV program administration either through regulatory changes
or, if appropriate, legislative proposals. As necessary, we will
take advantage of Section 487A(d) of the HEA, which allows the
Secretary to exempt experimental sites from any Title IV statutory
or regulatory requirement that would bias the results of the
Any institution that administers a Title IV program, or a group of
these institutions, may submit a response to this invitation at any time
by mailing a proposal to Jeff Baker, Director of Policy
Development at the address provided at the end of this letter or
by faxing it to him at (202) 205-0786. Early submission is
encouraged, as we anticipate that the review of proposals will
begin within the next 60 days; however, proposals that are
received later will also be considered.
We anticipate approving approximately 50 experiments in the first
phase of this initiative and more after those experiments are in
We particularly invite proposals from institutions that are
participating in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct
Loan) Program. The availability of comprehensive and timely
management information under the Direct Loan Program permits
effective monitoring, evaluation, and adjustment of administrative
practices by participating institutions. We encourage these
institutions to develop proposals that take advantage of this
Similarly, we encourage proposals from institutions that are
participating in the Department's Institutional Quality Assurance
Program and have developed their own comprehensive systems to
identify and remedy problems in the administration of Title IV
Since we anticipate approving only a small number of different
experimental solutions to any one problem, we encourage
institutions to collaborate in the development of proposals and to
submit proposals together.
To aid in the Department's review, we suggest that each proposal
be in the range of two to eight pages and that it answer the
- What problem experienced by the institution or
its students, or both, does the proposal address?
- What is the institution's proposed solution to
- From which specific statutory or regulatory
requirements does the institution seek relief in order to test
its proposed solution?
-What performance measures or alternative actions
does the institution propose to use to fulfill the underlying
purpose of the requirements from which relief is sought?
- For what period is the experiment proposed?
- When and how will the results of the experiment
be reported to the Department?
- For an experiment proposed by a group of
institutions, how will the group monitor and aggregate the
results of the experiment?
Examples that illustrate the elements of proposals were included
in the Federal Register notice. Our inclusion of these examples
and not others was in no way intended to circumscribe the
creativity of the community in identifying problems and developing
solutions to them.
We will review each proposal submitted on its own merits. We may
approve a proposal as submitted, reject it, or, if we find that a
proposal is not fully approvable but has merit, work with the
institution to refine it. If a proposal is approved, the
participating institution's program participation agreement
will be amended to reflect the terms of the experiment, including
the obligations undertaken by the institution, the requirements
from which the institution is relieved, the length of the
experiment, and the right of either the institution or the
Department to terminate the experiment.
Proposals should be submitted to Jeff Baker, Director of Policy
Development, Student Financial Assistance Programs, U.S.
Department of Education, 600 Independence Avenue, S.W. (Room
3042, ROB-3), Washington, D.C., 20202.
We hope you consider submitting a proposal under the experimental
sites authority as we work together to enhance these important
student financial assistance programs.
Elizabeth M. Hicks
Deputy Assistant Secretary
for Student Financial Assistance