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Subject: Pell Grant - Final Rule

Publication Date: July 2, 2013

Posted Date: July 2, 2013

Subject: Pell Grant - Final Rule

FR Type: Final

[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 127 (Tuesday, July 2, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 39613-39617]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-15709]

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Part 690

[Docket ID ED-2012-OPE-0006]
RIN 1840-AD11

Federal Pell Grant Program

AGENCY: Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Secretary adopts as final, without change, the interim
final rule published on May 2, 2012, that amended regulations for the
Federal Pell Grant program, to prohibit a student from receiving two
consecutive Federal Pell Grants in a single award year. The final
amendments implement provisions of the Higher Education Act of 1965
(HEA), as amended by the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing
Appropriations Act, 2011.

DATES: Effective July 2, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jacquelyn C. Butler, U.S. Department
of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, 1990 K Street NW.,
Room 8053, Washington, DC 20006-8542. Telephone: (202) 502-7890.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or a text
telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-
800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an
accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact
disc) on request to the program contact person listed under FOR FURTHER
INFORMATION CONTACT.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 2, 2012, the Secretary published an
interim final rule in the Federal Register (77 FR 25893), corrected on
July 11, 2012 (77 FR 40805), implementing provisions of the Higher
Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended by the Department of Defense
and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, Public Law 112-10,
Sec.  1860(a)(2), 125 Stat. 169-70 (2011).
    In the interim final rule, the Secretary--
    Delineated the conditions for calculating a Federal Pell
Grant for a payment period (77 FR 25894);
    Removed the provision for awarding Federal Pell Grant
payments from two Scheduled Awards (77 FR 25894);
    Specified when an institution may assign a crossover
payment period that occurs over two award years (77 FR 25894);
    Specified when an institution may pay a transfer student
attending more than one institution during an award year (77 FR 25894);
and
    Removed regulations that established procedures for
awarding a student his or her second Scheduled Award in an award year
(77 FR 25895).
    The interim final rule was effective on the date of publication,
May 2, 2012, and the Secretary requested public comment on whether
changes to the regulations were warranted. Additionally, the interim
final rule was corrected on July 11, 2012 (77 FR 40805). After
considering all comments, the Secretary adopts the interim final rule
without change. This document contains a discussion of the comments we
received.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    In response to the Secretary's invitation, 10 parties submitted
comments on the interim final rule.
    An analysis of the comments received since publication of the
interim final rule follows. We group major issues according to subject,
with appropriate sections of the regulations referenced in parentheses.
Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes--and
suggested changes the law does not authorize the Secretary to make.

General Comments

    Comments: Several commenters expressed support for the regulatory
changes in the interim final rule. One commenter objected to the
Secretary's decision to waive rulemaking. The commenter noted that the
public should have the opportunity to comment on proposed regulations
through a notice of proposed rulemaking.
    Discussion: The Secretary appreciates the commenters' support. We
disagree with the comment that these regulations should have been
submitted to the public as proposed regulations for notice and comment.
As we discussed in the interim final rule, under the Waiver of
Rulemaking and Delayed Effective Date section, the Department generally
offers interested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed
regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA)
(5 U.S.C. 553). However, the APA provides that an agency is not
required to conduct notice and comment rulemaking when the agency for
good cause finds that notice and public procedure thereon are
impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest (5
U.S.C. 553(b)(B)). The Secretary determined that there was good cause
to waive rulemaking under the APA because the statutory change to
prohibit a student from receiving two Federal Pell Grants in a single
award year would have resulted in some students losing their Federal
Pell Grant eligibility if we delayed making the regulatory change to
amend Sec.  690.64 (77 FR 25897). Notice and comment to amend
Sec. Sec.  690.63, 690.65, and 690.67 was unnecessary because we merely
updated these sections to reflect statutory changes in Public Law 112-
10 that prohibit a student from receiving two Federal Pell Grants in a
single award year.
    Changes: None.

Payment Period in Two Award Years (Sec.  690.64)

    Comments: One commenter asked if, for a crossover payment period,
more than six months of a payment period occurs in an award year, must
the Federal Pell Grant award be made from that award year. Another
commenter thanked the Department for the regulatory change under Sec. 
690.64(a) and (b), noting that the change would allow an institution to
comply with the regulations governing the standards of administrative
capability under 34 CFR 668.16 when awarding a Federal Pell Grant.
    Discussion: In August 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act
(HEOA), Public Law 110-315, added section 401(b)(5) to the HEA, and
allowed an eligible student to receive two Federal Pell Grant Scheduled
Awards during a single award year. Before then, institutions were
required

[[Page 39614]]

to assign a payment period that crossed over two award years to the
award year where more than six months were scheduled to occur. With the
removal of the two Pell provision from the statute, we did not revert
back to the pre-HEOA regulations. Instead, the interim final rule
amended Sec.  690.64(a)(2) to provide that an institution must
determine for each Federal Pell Grant recipient the award year in which
the payment period will be placed, giving institutions the ability to
assign a crossover payment period in a way that best meets the needs of
its students.
    The Secretary agrees with the commenter about the effect of Sec. 
690.64(a) and (b).
    Changes: None.

Transfer Student: Attendance at More Than One Institution During an
Award Year (Sec.  690.65(c) and (f))

    Comments: One commenter requested confirmation on whether the
regulations apply to the annual Scheduled Award amount or the amount of
the Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used. This commenter also
questioned whether a transfer student is required to repay the Federal
Pell Grant funds that exceeded his or her Scheduled Federal Pell Grant
for the award year. Two commenters were concerned that the change to
these regulations would negatively affect transfer students. One
commenter noted that students who transfer mid-year to a different
school would be harmed by these regulations.
    Discussion: The term used throughout the Federal Pell Grant program
regulations is "Scheduled Federal Pell Grant'' which is the amount of
a Federal Pell Grant that is paid to a full-time student for a full
academic year. In other publications, e.g., the Federal Student Aid
Handbook, we use the term "Scheduled Award'' which has the same
meaning as "Scheduled Federal Pell Grant.'' The term "Pell Grant
Lifetime Eligibility Used'' is the total of each award year's
percentage of the student's Scheduled Award that was disbursed for the
student. The Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used is required to comply
with the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-74). The
law included a provision that limits a student's eligibility for
Federal Pell Grant funds to a maximum of 12 semesters (or its
equivalent).
    Because the maximum amount of a Scheduled Federal Pell Grant award
a student can receive each year is equal to 100 percent, a student's
Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility Used must not exceed six years or a
total of six Scheduled Federal Pell Grants (600 percent).
    Section 690.79 provides that a student is liable for any Federal
Pell Grant overpayment made to him or her, except if the overpayment
occurred because the institution failed to follow the procedures in the
Federal Pell Grant program regulations or the Student Assistance
General Provisions regulations under 34 CFR part 668, in which case,
the institution would be liable. A student is not liable for, and the
institution is not required to attempt recovery of or refer to the
Secretary, a Federal Pell Grant overpayment if the amount of the
overpayment is less than $25 and is not a remaining balance.
    A student who receives a Federal Pell Grant at one institution and
then subsequently transfers to a second institution in the same award
year may receive a Federal Pell Grant at the second institution for
that portion of the award year in which the student is enrolled and has
remaining Federal Pell Grant eligibility at that institution that does
not exceed the student's Scheduled Award.
    Although the commenter is correct that a transfer student may be
negatively affected, e.g., the student will receive only the remaining
portion of his or her Scheduled Federal Pell Grant award rather than a
full Scheduled Federal Pell Grant award at the second institution, the
change in the law prohibits a student from receiving more than one
Scheduled Federal Pell Grant award during a single award year.
    Changes: None.

Receiving Up to Two Scheduled Awards During a Single Award Year (Sec. 
690.67)

    Comments: Four commenters opposed the removal of the provision that
allows an otherwise eligible student to receive a second Federal Pell
Grant Scheduled Award in an award year. One commenter noted that with
the reduction in Federal Pell Grant funds, students will be limited by
the number of classes they may register for, and this may discourage
accelerated program completion. Other commenters opined that without
the additional Federal Pell Grant funds, students will be forced to
incur more loan debt in order to complete their postsecondary
education.
    Discussion: Section 1860(a)(2) of division B of the Department of
Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (Public Law
112-10), repealed section 401(b)(5) of the HEA under which an otherwise
eligible student could receive more than one Federal Pell Grant in an
award year. While we understand the commenters' concerns, the Secretary
does not have the authority to change statutory requirements.
    Changes: None.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether
this regulatory action is "significant'' and, therefore, subject to
the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by the
Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Section 3(f) of Executive Order
12866 defines a "significant regulatory action'' as an action likely
to result in a rule that may--
    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more,
or adversely affect a sector of the economy, productivity, competition,
jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or
tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to
as an ``economically significant'' rule);
    (2) Create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an
action taken or planned by another agency;
    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement grants,
user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients
thereof; or
    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles stated in the
Executive Order.
    The statutory elimination of the two Pell Grant option as reflected
in this regulatory action is economically significant and subject to
review by OMB under section 3(f)(1) of Executive Order 12866.
    We have also reviewed these regulations under Executive Order
13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the principles,
structures, and definitions governing regulatory review established in
Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, Executive Order
13563 requires that an agency--
    (1) Propose or adopt regulations only on a reasoned determination
that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits
and costs are difficult to quantify);
    (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society,
consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into
account--among other things, and to the extent practicable--the costs
of cumulative regulations;
    (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select
those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential
economic, environmental, public health and safety,

[[Page 39615]]

and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity);
    (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather
than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must
adopt; and
    (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct
regulation, including economic incentives--such as user fees or
marketable permits--to encourage the desired behavior, or provide
information that enables the public to make choices.
    Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency "to use the best
available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future
benefits and costs as accurately as possible.'' The Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these
techniques may include "identifying changing future compliance costs
that might result from technological innovation or anticipated
behavioral changes.''
    We are adopting this interim rule as final without change only
after a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs. In
choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, we selected those
approaches that maximize net benefits. Based on the analysis presented
in the interim final rule, the Department believes that these
regulations are consistent with the principles in Executive Order
13563.
    We also have determined that this regulatory action would not
unduly interfere with State, local, and tribal governments in the
exercise of their governmental functions.
    In accordance with the Executive orders, the Department has
assessed the potential costs and benefits, both quantitative and
qualitative, of this regulatory action. We discussed the potential
costs and benefits of these regulations in the interim final rule. (77
FR 25895).

Waiver of Delayed Effective Dates

    The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) generally requires that
regulations be published at least 30 days before their effective date,
unless the agency has good cause to implement its regulations sooner (5
U.S.C. 553(d)(3)). In addition, these final regulations are a major
rule for purposes of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) (5 U.S.C. 801,
et seq.). Generally, under the CRA, a major rule takes effect 60 days
after the date on which the rule is published in the Federal Register.
Section 808(2) of the CRA, however, provides that any rule which an
agency for good cause finds (and incorporates the finding and a brief
statement of reasons therefore in the rule issued) that notice and
public procedure thereon are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to
the public interest, shall take effect at such time as the Federal
agency promulgating the rule determines.
    As stated in detail in the interim final rule, 77 FR 25897 (May 2,
2012), because these final regulations merely reflect statutory changes
and remove obsolete regulatory provisions and, in the case of Sec. 
690.64, protect students from receiving reduced amounts of Pell Grant
funds, there is good cause to waive the delayed effective dates under
the APA and the CRA and make these final regulations effective on the
day they are published.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    These final regulations affect institutions that participate in
title IV, HEA programs, and individual Pell Grant recipients. The
effect of the elimination of two Pell Grants in one year will depend on
the extent students replace the funds from other sources or change
their academic plans, the distribution of recipients of a second Pell
Grant, and the alternative use of the funds. This Final Regulatory
Flexibility Analysis presents an estimate of the effect on small
institutions of the statutory changes implemented through these final
regulations. In the interim final rule, the Department welcomed
comments about the estimates of the costs and benefits of the changes
implemented in these final regulations. While some commenters
questioned the benefits of Pell Grants or the effect of the changes on
transfer students, no comments were received about the specific
estimates of the effect on small entities presented in the Initial
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (77 FR 25895-25897).

Succinct Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, These
Final Regulations

    These final regulations remove regulatory provisions related to the
availability of two Pell Grants in one year to comply with section
1860(a)(2) of division B of the Department of Defense and Full-Year
Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (Pub. L. 112-10), which repealed
section 401(b)(5) of the HEA under which an otherwise eligible student
could receive more than one Federal Pell Grant in an award year.

Description of and, Where Feasible, an Estimate of the Number of Small
Entities to Which These Final Regulations Will Apply

    These final regulations affect institutions that participate in
title IV, HEA programs and loan borrowers. The definition of "small
entity'' in the Regulatory Flexibility Act encompasses "small
businesses,'' "small organizations,'' and "small governmental
jurisdictions.'' The definition of "small business'' comes from the
definition of "small business concern'' under section 3 of the Small
Business Act as well as regulations issued by the U.S. Small Business
Administration (SBA). The SBA defines a "small business concern'' as
one that is "organized for profit; has a place of business in the
U.S.; operates primarily within the U.S. or makes a significant
contribution to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes or use of
American products, materials or labor . . . .'' "Small organizations''
are further defined as any "not-for-profit enterprise that is
independently owned and operated and not dominant in its field.'' The
definition of "small entity'' also includes "small governmental
jurisdictions,'' which includes "school districts with a population
less than 50,000.''
    Data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
(IPEDS) indicate that roughly 3,448 institutions representing
approximately 63 percent of those institutions participating in the
Federal student assistance programs meet the definition of ``small
entities'' when all private nonprofit institutions are classified as
small because none is dominant in the field. If the $7 million in
revenue requirement were applied to private nonprofit institutions, the
number of small entities would be reduced to 2,386 or 43.6 percent of
institutions. Table 2 summarizes small institutions and their percent
of AY 2008-2009 Pell Grant recipients and amounts by sector.

*NOTE: CHART OMITTED -- SEE PDF FILE
 

Source: IPEDS 2008-2009 and Department of Education estimates.

Description of the Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping and Other
Compliance Requirements of These Final Regulations, Including an
Estimate of the Classes of Small Entities That Will Be Subject to the
Requirement and the Type of Professional Skills Necessary For
Preparation of the Report or Record

    These final regulations do not impose any new reporting, record
keeping, or other compliance requirements on institutions.

Identification, to the Extent Practicable, of All Relevant Federal
Regulations That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With These Final
Regulations

    These final regulations are unlikely to conflict with or duplicate
existing Federal regulations.

Alternatives Considered

    No alternatives were considered for the amendments to Sec. Sec. 
690.63(g)(1), 690.63(h), 690.65(c), 690.65(f), and 690.67 because these
changes implement changes to the HEA enacted by Congress and the
Department did not exercise discretion in developing these amendments.
With respect to Sec.  690.64, the Department could have left the
current regulations in place. However, such an action would have led to
potentially serious adverse effects on students, as described in the
Waiver of Rulemaking and Delayed Effective Date

[[Page 39617]]

section of the preamble in the interim final rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    These final regulations do not create any information collection
requirements. With the removal of Sec. Sec.  690.63(h) and 690.67 and
the revision of Sec.  690.64, due to the statutory changes, the
paperwork burden associated with those sections are also removed. This
change results in the discontinuation of information collection 1845-
0098 and, therefore, the elimination of 109,605 burden hours associated
with that collection.

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the
regulations in 34 CFR part 79.
    Electronic Access to This Document: 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 via the Federal Digital System
at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well
as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal
Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF,
you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the
site.
    You may also access documents of the Department published in the
Federal Register by using the article search feature at:
www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search
feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published
by the Department.
    You may also view this document in text or PDF at the following
site: www.ifap.ed.gov.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number: 84.063 Federal Pell
Grants)

List of Subjects in 34 CFR Part 690

    Colleges and universities, Elementary and secondary education,
Grant programs-education, Student aid.

    Dated: June 26, 2013.
Arne Duncan,
Secretary of Education.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the interim final rule
that amended 34 CFR part 690, published at 77 FR 25893 on May 2, 2012,
is adopted as final without change.

[FR Doc. 2013-15709 Filed 7-1-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P


Last Modified: 07/01/2013