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(GEN-13-03) Subject: Invitation to Participate in Experiments Under the Experimental Sites Initiative

Publication Date: January 17, 2013

DCL ID: GEN-13-03

Subject: Invitation to Participate in Experiments Under the Experimental Sites Initiative

Summary: This letter invites Title IV eligible institutions to request to participate, beginning with the 2013-2014 award year, in one or more of the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI) experiments currently underway.

Dear Colleague:

We are pleased to invite postsecondary educational institutions (institutions) that participate in the Title IV student assistance programs to request to participate in one or more of the listed below current experiments under the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI). Section 487A(b) of the Higher Education Act (HEA) provides the Secretary with the authority to grant waivers from specific Title IV, HEA statutory or regulatory requirements to allow institutions to test alternative methods of administering the Title IV, HEA programs.

As a result of a Federal Register notice (76 FR 66698) dated October 27, 2011, 49 institutions are participating in one or more of the following ESI experiments:

    Experiment 1 – Federal Pell Grant Program – Eligibility of students with bachelor’s degrees who enroll in vocational or career programs.

    Experiment 2 – Federal Pell Grant Program – Eligibility of students who enroll in certain short-term training programs.

    Experiment 3 – Direct Loan Program – Single disbursement of a one-term loan for study abroad students.

    Experiment 4 – Direct Loan Program – Early disbursement for study abroad students and for students enrolled in foreign institutions.

    Experiment 5 – Direct Loan Program – Unequal disbursements.

    Experiment 6 – Direct Loan Program – Limiting unsubsidized loan amounts.

    Experiment 7 – Direct Loan Program – PLUS Loans for parents of students with intellectual disabilities.

    Experiment 8 – Student Eligibility – Eligibility of students with intellectual disabilities who are also enrolled in high school.

The October 27, 2011 Federal Register notice established December 12, 2011as the date that institutions must have submitted letters of application to participate in one or more of the above listed experiments in order for the institution to receive priority to be considered for participation. However, the notice also provided that letters of application received after December 12, 2011 may be considered for participation at a later time.

We recognize that since the 2012-2013 experiments have begun at more than four dozen institutions, there is interest on the part of other institutions to participate in these experiments. This letter provides all Title IV eligible institutions the opportunity to request to participate in one or more of the listed experiments starting with the 2013-2014 award year.

Please review the descriptions of each of the experiments as provided in the October 27, 2011 Federal Register notice, and the ESI Questions and Answers in an Electronic Announcement posted to the IFAP website on November 15, 2011. If your institution is interested in participating in any of the listed experiments for the 2013-2014 award year, please let us know by sending a letter of application in the form of a PDF attachment to an email message to no later than February 28, 2013.

The subject line of the email should read ‘‘ESI—Request to Participate.’’ The text of the email should identify the experiment, or experiments, the institution wishes to participate in by the experiment number noted earlier in this letter (e.g., "Experiment 1" for the Pell Grant experiment that allows certain students who have a bachelor’s degree to receive a Pell Grant).

The letter of application should be on institutional letterhead and be signed by an official of the institution. The letter must include the institution’s official name and Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education Identification (OPEID), as well as a mailing address, email address, FAX number, and telephone number of a contact person at the institution.

Submitting a letter of application does not commit the institution to participate in an experiment. Nor does it commit the Department to approving an institution’s request to participate

If you have any questions please send an email to:


Jeff Baker, Director
Policy Liaison and Implementation
Federal Student Aid
U.S. Department of Education

Last Modified: 01/16/2013