Summary: The Secretary will convene six public meetings to obtain public comment for use in developing proposals for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. In addition, the Secretary invites written comments, suggestions, or ideas regarding reauthorization proposals.
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[Federal Register: November 19, 1996 (Volume 61, Number 224)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
Department of Education
Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act; Notice
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act
AGENCY: Department of Education.
ACTION: Notice of regional meetings and request for comment to obtain
public involvement in the development of policies relating to the
reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
SUMMARY: The Secretary will convene six public meetings to obtain
public comment for use in developing proposals for the reauthorization
of the Higher Education Act. In addition, the Secretary invites written
comments, suggestions, or ideas regarding reauthorization proposals.
DATES: Comments must be received by the Department on or before January
31, 1997. Comments may also be submitted at regional meetings to be
held on December 6-17, 1996. (See dates, time and location of regional
meetings under the ``Supplementary Information'' section of this
ADDRESSES: All comments concerning the reauthorization of the Higher
Education Act should be addressed to Adam Ochlis, 600 Independence
Avenue, S.W., ROB-3, Room 4050, Washington, DC 20202 or to the
following internet address that has been created specifically for
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Persons wishing to obtain additional
information regarding the regional meetings should call Sandra Wood or
Tia Cosey at (202) 205-2987. Individuals who use a telecommunications
device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay
Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern
time, Monday through Friday.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Student financial aid programs and other
programs authorized under the Higher Education Act (HEA) have
dramatically increased access to higher education for a broad range of
students. As the Department of Education begins to consider proposals
to reauthorize the HEA, it looks to build upon its accomplishments in
providing access to students and increasing educational opportunity.
In recent years, the Department has worked hard to help students
pay for postsecondary education. The amount of Federal student aid
available increased by $10 billion between 1993 and 1995. With the
enactment of the fiscal year 1997 appropriations bill, aid available to
students will increase to a record total of $36 billion for an
estimated 7.7 million students. In particular, the Pell Grant maximum
award will increase from $2,300 in 1993 to $2,700 in 1997, and the
amount appropriated for the College Work-Study program will increase 35
percent, to $830 million, from 1996 to 1997. The Department has also
worked to expand access and encourage first-generation, low-income,
college students to attend and complete college. In fiscal year 1997,
the Federal TRIO programs will be funded at $500 million, an increase
of $37 million. These programs will serve approximately 685,000 at-risk
students by providing outreach and support services, as well as
information about postsecondary education opportunities.
The Administration has also proposed the Hope Scholarship tax
credit, a $10,000 tax deduction for education and training expenses,
and the ability to withdraw from Individual Retirement Accounts to help
pay for postsecondary education. These initiatives would promote access
and savings for postsecondary education for eligible individuals. In
addition, the Presidential Honors Scholarship proposal would encourage
academic excellence by providing a $1,000 scholarship to every high
school student graduating in the top five percent of his or her class.
And the Administration's national service initiative, AmeriCorps,
continues to provide scholarships and loan forgiveness to students in
return for community service.
In addition, the Student Loan Reform Act in 1993 has revolutionized
the federal student loan system by reducing costs for borrowers and
creating the Direct Loan program, a simpler, more automated and
accountable system. The Direct Loan program offers borrowers a choice
of repayment options, including income-contingent repayment, that makes
it easier for borrowers to manage their student loan debt. Even
students who have not borrowed under the Direct Loan program have
benefited from improvements in the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL)
programs through reduced fees and improved customer service as a result
of increased competition between the two programs.
Overall, the programs authorized under the HEA work well and
provide a strong foundation of support for higher education. As part of
reauthorization, the Department will consider how to make these
programs work better and how to ensure that they complement the
President's proposed initiatives to increase savings for education and
to reduce taxes for persons who invest in their education.
Reauthorization will occur in the context of a growing population of
college students who need financial assistance, making this effort that
much more important.
The Department's proposals will build on the accomplishments of the
past four years and incorporate the following goals and principles,
which aim to improve access to postsecondary education, reduce burden
where appropriate, and ensure accountability for taxpayer funds.
I. Access--opportunity with responsibility. The Department of
Education will continue to strive to ensure access to higher education
for all students, while encouraging families and students to take
responsibility for their own education. In this time of increasing
demand for higher education and tight federal and state budgets,
students and their parents must take an even more active role in
financing their educations.
<bullet> Students. As primary beneficiaries of postsecondary
education, students should invest in themselves and make the most of
their educational opportunities. They should be rewarded for high
academic performance and should not be penalized for saving or working
to pay for college. Options for achieving these principles include
further increases in the Pell Grant maximum, continuation of strong
campus-based programs including the Work-Study program, providing
students with a range of options for loan repayment (including income
contingent repayment), encouraging students to save or work to finance
their education, and providing necessary support for students with
<bullet> Families. To the extent that families are able to finance
or contribute to their children's educations, they must accept this
responsibility. Financial aid, including grants, work study, and loans,
and tax incentives should be provided to help families and students
meet this responsibility. The perception that families are penalized
for saving must be changed, and the federal government should provide
appropriate vehicles to encourage parents to save for their children's
educations. Examples of ways that the federal government can encourage
access and saving include increasing the maximum Pell Grant award,
enacting the HOPE Scholarship proposal and the $10,000 tuition tax
deduction, and allowing Individual Retirement Accounts to be used for
<bullet> Federal government. The federal government can help
families pay for college through targeted financial aid and tax
incentives. This role includes making students aware of their
opportunities early so that they can prepare, academically and
financially, for college, as well as making the financial aid delivery
system more efficient.
<bullet> States. State governments play a vital role in providing
access to postsecondary education through support for public colleges
and universities and state student aid. The states should continue to
invest in the education of their students in spite of tight state
budgets and limited resources.
<bullet> Postsecondary institutions. Postsecondary institutions
have the opportunity to obtain federal funds to help students pay for
college and the responsibility to provide quality programs and support
to students. Institutions also have the responsibility to be fiscally
responsible, especially in their management of federal funds.
II. Support of effective education--high standards/high
achievement. Federal programs should continue to promote and enhance
outstanding educational opportunities and encourage students to take
advantage of those opportunities to the best of their abilities. The
federal government's programs and oversight responsibilities should
also encourage the effective use of new technology and other
innovations in the delivery of postsecondary education to provide high
quality postsecondary education that meets the changing needs of
III. Simplify program delivery and improve management. Students and
postsecondary institutions should continue to receive outstanding
customer service in a predictable and seamless way so that they are
assured of aid and can plan ahead. In particular, Federal programs
should be simplified and burden should be reduced as much as possible
while maintaining accountability for federal funds. The Department has
worked during the past four years to reinvent regulations and reduce
burden by eliminating requirements that do not protect the Federal
fiscal interest, improve accountability, or protect students.
<bullet> Providing strong customer service. The reauthorization of
the HEA should provide for an environment in which students are
recognized as the most important customers of financial aid. Customer
service should be expanded to make the delivery of student aid as
efficient and effective as possible.
<bullet> Reducing burden. The Department of Education must
administer its programs with the least burden possible on students,
families, and institutions, while protecting students and federal
funds. Statutory, regulatory, and administrative burden must be reduced
wherever possible for all institutions, and the Federal government
should provide additional burden reduction to institutions with a
record of outstanding management of federal programs and to
institutions that pose little financial risk to Federal funds.
<bullet> Ensuring accountability: The Department of Education must
ensure that taxpayer funds are not wasted or abused. Institutions that
are not providing strong education or training should not be eligible
to participate in federal programs.
IV. Improving outreach to potential students and linkages to
employment and elementary/secondary education programs. The Department
of Education must improve outreach to secondary students, including
disabled and disadvantaged students. Federal programs should also help
students move into the workforce.
As the previous principles and goals indicate, the Department is
committed to enhancing access to postsecondary education for all
students and working to reduce the costs and burdens associated with
the programs. The Department seeks comments, ideas, or suggestions on
the issues and ideas presented here, as well as the following
questions, as it begins to consider proposals for reauthorization.
a. How can the Federal government continue to provide better access
and promote additional educational opportunity for all students,
including students with disabilities, within the framework of the
Higher Education Act? How can the Federal government encourage greater
persistence and completion of postsecondary education?
b. How can existing programs be changed and made to work more
efficiently and effectively?
c. How can the programs be changed to eliminate any unnecessary
burdens on students, institutions, or the Federal government, yet
maintain accountability of taxpayer funds?
d. Are there other ideas or initiatives that should be considered
during reauthorization that would improve the framework in which the
Federal government promotes access to postsecondary education and
ensures accountability of taxpayer funds?
Participants are welcome to address these and other issues relating
to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, either by attending
the regional meetings or submitting written comments. Individuals who
wish to testify at any of the regional hearings are encouraged to do
so. Time allotted for each individual to testify will be limited and
will depend on the number of speakers wishing to testify at each
session. It is likely that each participant choosing to testify will be
limited to three minutes or less.
The dates and location of the six regional meetings appear below.
The Department of Education has reserved a limited number of rooms at
each of the following hotels at a special government per diem room
rate. To reserve these rates, be certain to inform the hotel that you
are attending the reauthorization hearings with the Department of
Education. The meetings are open to the public, and the meeting rooms
and proceedings will be accessible for individuals with disabilities.
When making reservations, individuals must indicate the need for any
Dates, Time and Location of Regional Meetings
December 6, 1996, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Atlanta Hilton & Towers,
Atlanta, Georgia; 1-404-659-2000 and ask for reservations.
December 9, 1996, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Holiday Inn Select, Phoenix,
Arizona; 1-602-273-7778 and ask for reservations.
December 10, 1996, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Park Plaza Hotel, San
Francisco, California 1-800-411-7275 and ask for reservations.
December 12, 1996, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Hotel Sofitel, Chicago,
Illinois 1-800-233-5959 and ask for reservations.
December 13, 1996, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Back Bay Hilton Hotel,
Boston, Massachusetts. 1-800-874-0663 and ask for reservations.
December 17, 1996, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Washington Hilton Hotel,
Washington, District of Columbia 1-202-797-5820 & ask for reservations.
Invitation to Comment
Interested persons are invited to submit comments and
recommendations regarding the reauthorization of the Higher Education
Act. Comments will be available for public inspection, during and after
the comment period in room 4050, Regional Office Building 3, 7th and D
Streets SW, Washington, D.C., between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00
p.m., Monday through Friday of each week except Federal Holidays.
Dated: November 14, 1996.
David A. Longanecker,
Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.
[FR Doc. 96-29549 Filed 11-18-96; 8:45 am]
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