Posted Date: April 25, 2012

Author:  David A. Bergeron, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning, and Innovation, Office of Postsecondary Education

Subject: Public Hearings for Preparing Proposed Regulations

The Department will be publishing a notice in the Federal Register announcing its intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to prepare proposed regulations for the Federal Student Aid programs under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). This notice will announce two public hearings at which interested parties may suggest issues that should be considered for action by the negotiating committees.

We intend to develop proposed regulations designed to prevent fraud and otherwise ensure proper use of Title IV, HEA program funds, and to improve and streamline the campus-based Federal Student Aid programs.

On September 26, 2011, the Department's Office of Inspector General issued a report alerting the Department to the increasingly common discovery of groups of individuals who conspire to defraud the Title IV, HEA programs through distance education programs (the report is available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oig/invtreports/l42l0001.pdf). The Department is considering suggestions for regulatory changes to further help institutions combat fraud and protect students and taxpayers from fraudulent activity.

In addition, we are considering regulatory changes related to the disbursement of Title IV, HEA program funds, particularly electronic funds transfers (EFTs) made directly to a student's bank account and available to the student via debit or another bank-provided card. We are interested in how or whether the use of EFTs, in lieu of checks, could provide one means to help prevent fraud or identify those involved in fraud rings. We are also interested in whether students should have a greater role in deciding to accept debit cards or other banking services provided through an institutionally-controlled process or contracted provider, particularly in view of the costs and fees associated with the use of those cards and services.

We are requesting public input on these areas and others that the public believes should be addressed through regulations to ensure the proper use of Title IV, HEA program funds.

Finally, the Department issued its final "Plan for Retrospective Analysis of Existing Regulations" in August 2011 (the plan is available at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/reg/retrospective-analysis/index.html). As part of the plan, the Department identified the need to review the regulations governing the campus-based Federal Student Aid programs (i.e., the Federal Perkins Loan, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, and Federal Work-Study programs). The Department is considering whether to update and streamline the regulations governing these programs. We will consider changes that improve the administration and efficiency of these programs while reducing burden on regulated parties.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

May 23, 2012—Phoenix, Arizona

South Mountain Community College
7050 South 24th Street
Student Union Building
Room 100-ABC
Phoenix, AZ 85042

May 31, 2012—Washington, DC

U.S. Department of Education
1990 K Street, NW.
8th Floor Conference Center
Washington, DC 20006

The public hearings will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., local time.

To register to speak at a public hearing, send us an e-mail at: negreg2012@ed.gov. Include the name of the presenter along with a general timeframe during which the individual would like to speak. We will attempt to accommodate each speaker's preference but, if we are unable to do so, we will make the determination on a first-come first-served basis. It is likely that each participant will be limited to five minutes. The Department will notify registrants indicating the specific location and time slot reserved for them. An individual may make only one presentation at the public hearings. If we receive more registrations than we are able to accommodate, the Department reserves the right to reject the registration of an entity or individual that is affiliated with an entity or individual that is already scheduled to present comments, and to select among registrants to ensure that a broad range of entities and individuals is allowed to present. We will accept walk-in registrations for any remaining time slots on a first-come first-served basis beginning at 8:30 a.m. on the day of the public hearing.

Additional information on this negotiated rulemaking initiative is available at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/2012/index.html.

   

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