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Summary: Public Comments Requested for Reauthorization of the HEA.

Publication Date: December 20, 2002
FRPart:
RegPartsAffected:


Page Numbers: 77966-77967

Summary: Public Comments Requested for Reauthorization of the HEA.

Posted on 12-23-2002

[Federal Register: December 20, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 245)]
[Notices]
[Page 77967-77969]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr20de02-30]
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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act; Notice of Request to
Obtain Public Comments Related to the Reauthorization of the Higher
Education Act


SUMMARY:
The Secretary of Education (Secretary) is soliciting comments
and recommendations from interested parties on proposals for amending
and extending the Higher Education Act (HEA). To facilitate the receipt
of these comments, the Department has established a web site from which
users can transmit their comments, suggestions and ideas to the
Department.


DATES: We request your comments on or before February 28, 2003. If
possible, we will consider comments received after that date.


ADDRESSES: Comments concerning the reauthorization of the HEA should be
transmitted via the Internet: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OPE/reauthorization.
The Secretary encourages interested persons to take
advantage of this user-friendly web interface. Interested persons
wishing to submit comments by mail may address them to Jeffrey R.
Andrade, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning and
Innovation, Office of Postsecondary Education, 1990 K Street, NW., Room
8046, Washington, DC 20006 ATTENTION: HEA Reauthorization.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To obtain additional information about
the Department's reauthorization web interface please call Daniel
Pollard or Jean-Didier Gaina at (202) 502-7575.
If you use a telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD), you may
call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
Individuals with Disabilities may obtain this document in an
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer
diskette) on request to the person listed under ADDRESSES.


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: As we begin to consider proposals to
reauthorize the HEA, we look to ensure that the significant amounts of
funding for the programs authorized in the HEA are wisely spent. We
also look to build upon successful program results in providing access
to students and improving the quality of postsecondary education.

Background
Since the last reauthorization of the HEA in 1998, funding for the
programs authorized under the HEA has increased significantly. Notably,
the amount of Federal student aid available has been increased by $23
billion between 1998 and 2002. The fiscal year 2002 appropriations bill
signed by President Bush on January 10, 2002, increased the Federal
student aid available to students through the grant, loan, and work-
study programs authorized by the HEA to a record $69 billion for an
estimated 8.1 million students. The President's fiscal year 2003 budget
request would provide Federal student aid to an additional 340,000
students.
Many of these increases have been directed to those HEA programs
that serve the neediest students. For example, the Pell Grant maximum
was increased from $3,000 in 1998 to $4,000 in 2002, and funding for
the Pell Grant program has increased from $7.3 billion in 1998 to $10.3
billion in 2002. The amount appropriated for the Work-Study program
increased 22 percent from 1998 to 2002 to more than $1 billion.
The period since the last reauthorization of the HEA has been a
period of constant change and rapid growth for the Federal student loan
programs. Education loans have become a valuable source of
postsecondary student aid for many students and parents. The total
amount borrowed annually, including consolidation loans, under the two
major Federal loan programs, the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL)
Program-formerly the Guaranteed Student Loan (GSL) Program--and the
William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, has
increased more than 50 percent, from $36 billion in fiscal year 1998 to
an estimated $55 billion in fiscal year 2002.
Funding has also increased significantly for programs that aim to
expand access and encourage first-generation, low-income, college
students to attend and complete college. In fiscal year 2002, the
Federal TRIO programs were funded at $803 million, an increase of 52
percent from 1998. These programs serve more than 850,000 at-risk
students by providing outreach and support services, as well as
information about postsecondary opportunities. Gaining Early Awareness
and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) has grown
significantly since its inception in 1998 and in fiscal year 2002 was
funded at $285 million and serves 1.2 million students. Taken together,
these programs represent more than $1 billion each year in annual
funding and provide services to 2.1 million students from low-income
families to help them enter and complete postsecondary education.
Funding for programs authorized by Title III of the HEA that
strengthen the quality of institutions that serve large numbers of
disadvantaged and minority students has also been increased since 1998.
Specifically, funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities
(HBCUs) and Historically Black Graduate Institutions (HBGIs) has
increased by 74 percent and 96 percent, respectively. Funding has also
been increased for the Strengthening Institutions program to improve
the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of
a wide range of postsecondary institutions that serve large numbers of
financially needy students by 33 percent.
Funding for the Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs) program
authorized by Title V of the HEA has increased by $75 million--a six-
fold increase. This program provides significant support to expand and
enhance the academic quality, institutional management, fiscal
stability, and self-sufficiency of the colleges and universities that
enroll large percentages of Hispanic students.
The emerging importance of American higher education in the
[[Page 77968]]
international arena has also been reflected in the amount of funding
for programs in this area. Appropriations for international education
and foreign language studies have increased 63 percent from 1998 to
2002.
Many of the programs authorized under the HEA work well and provide
a strong foundation of support for higher education. Some need to be
made more effective in achieving better results. As part of
reauthorization, we will consider how to make the HEA programs work
better and complement the President's efforts to ensure that all
Federal programs focus on stronger accountability for results.


Goals and Objectives for HEA Reauthorization
The Department's goal is to develop proposals that will best use
the significant levels of funding for the HEA programs, build upon the
successful results in those programs, improve the quality of and access
to postsecondary education, promote greater emphasis on achieving
results, improve student achievement, and ensure accountability for
taxpayer funds.
The Secretary has already established several goals and objectives
in the Department's strategic plan that relate directly to the programs
authorized under the HEA:


Enhance the Quality of and Access to Postsecondary and Adult Education

  • Reduce the gaps in college access and completion among
    student populations differing by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status,
    and disability while increasing the educational attainment of all.
  • Enhance efforts to prepare low-income and minority youth
    for college.
  • Increase public communication about postsecondary options.
  • Improve student support services.
  • Highlight effective strategies for nontraditional students.
  • Provide support to students with disabilities.


Strengthen Accountability of Postsecondary Institutions

  • Refine the teacher quality accountability system mandated
    by Title II of the HEA.
  • Create a reporting system on retention and completion that
    is useful for State accountability systems.


Establish Effective Funding Mechanisms for Postsecondary Education

  • Investigate postsecondary funding strategies.
  • Improve the efficiency of the Federal student aid process.


Strengthen HBCUs, HSIs, and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs)

  • Offer technical assistance for planning, implementation,
    and evaluation.
  • Assist in promoting the technology infrastructure of
    institutions serving low-income and minority students.
  • Collaborate with HBCUs, HSIs, and TCUs on K-12 improvement
    efforts.

Develop and Maintain Financial Integrity and Management and Internal
Controls

  • Increase the use of performance-based contracting.

Manage Information Technology Resources Using Electronic Communication
and Record Storage, to Improve Services for our Customers and Partners

  • Encourage customers to conduct business with the Department
    on-line.


Modernize the Federal Student Aid Programs and Reduce Their High-Risk
Status

  • Create a more efficient Federal student aid delivery
    system.
  • Improve program monitoring.


Achieve Budget and Performance Integration to Link Funding Decisions to
Results

  • Document program effectiveness.
    In addition, the Department also plans to apply its Department-wide
    objectives to programs authorized under the HEA:


Link Federal Education Funding to Accountability for Results

  • Create performance-based grants.
    Increase Flexibility and Local Control
  • Increase flexibility for grantees and recipients within
    Federal Programs


Increase Information and Options for Parents

  • Expand choice in Federal programs.


Encourage the Use of Scientifically Based Methods Within Federal
Education Programs

  • Revise grant applications to reflect scientifically based
    research.
  • Work with the Congress to embed scientifically based
    research in all Federal programs.


Improve the Performance of All High School Students

  • Increase learning options for students.


Improve Teacher and Principal Quality

  • Reduce barriers to teaching for highly qualified
    individuals.
  • Improve the quality of teacher preparation programs.


Leverage the Contributions of Community- and Faith-Based Organizations
To Increase the Effectiveness of Department Programs

  • Provide technical assistance and outreach.
  • Remove regulatory barriers to the full participation of
    faith-based organizations.
  • Implement novice applicant procedures.
  • Eliminate statutory barriers to full participation of faith-based organizations.


Questions for Public Comment


We are seeking comments and recommendations on the issues and ideas
presented here, as well as the following questions, as we begin to
consider proposals for the reauthorization of the HEA.
a. How can we improve access and promote additional educational
opportunity for all students, especially students with disabilities,
within the framework of the HEA? How can the Federal Government
encourage greater persistence and completion of students enrolled in
postsecondary education?
b. How can existing HEA programs be changed and made to work more
efficiently and effectively? In what ways do they need to be adapted or
modified to respond to changes in postsecondary education that have
occurred since 1998?
c. How can the HEA programs be changed to eliminate any unnecessary
burdens on students, institutions, or the Federal Government, yet
maintain accountability of Federal funds? How can program requirements
be simplified, particularly for students?
d. How can we best prioritize the use of funds provided for
postsecondary education and the benefits provided under the HEA
programs? How can the significant levels of Federal funding already
provided for the HEA programs best help to further the goals of
improving educational quality, expanding access, and ensuring
affordability?
e. Are there innovative and creative ways the Federal Government
can integrate tax credits, deductions, and tax-free savings incentives
with the Federal student aid programs in the HEA to improve access to
and choice in postsecondary education?
f. What results should be measured in each HEA program to determine
the effectiveness of that program?
g. Are there other ideas or initiatives that should be considered
during
[[Page 77969]]
reauthorization that would improve the framework in which the Federal
Government promotes access to postsecondary education and ensures
accountability of taxpayer funds?


Invitation To Comment
Interested persons are invited to submit comments and
recommendations regarding the reauthorization of the Higher Education
Act. All comments submitted in response to this notice will be
available for public inspection, during and after the comment period at
1990 K Street, NW., 8th floor, Washington, DC, between the hours of 9
a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday of each week except Federal
holidays.


Electronic Access to This Document

You may view this document, as well as all other Department of
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site:
http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister.
To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available
free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S.
Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in
the Washington, DC area at (202) 512-1530.
Note: The official version of this document is the document
published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the
official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal
Regulations is available on GPO Access at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/index.html
.
Dated: December 16, 2002.
Sally L. Stroup,
Assistant Secretary, Office of Postsecondary Education.
[FR Doc. 02-32089 Filed 12-19-02; 8:45 am]BILLING CODE 4000-01-P


Last Modified: 12/22/2002