[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 209 (Friday, October 28, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 66880-66882]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-27982]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Chapter VI


Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, Negotiator Nominations and 
Schedule of Committee Meetings--Student Loan Programs

AGENCY: Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of establishment of negotiated rulemaking committee.

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SUMMARY: We announce our intention to establish a negotiated rulemaking 
committee to prepare proposed regulations governing the student loan 
programs authorized under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, 
as amended (HEA). The committee will include representatives of 
organizations or groups with interests that are significantly affected 
by the topics proposed for negotiation. We request nominations for 
individual negotiators who represent key stakeholder constituencies for 
the issues to be negotiated to serve on the committee and we set a 
schedule for committee meetings.

DATES: We must receive your nominations for negotiators to serve on the 
committee on or before November 28, 2011. The dates, times, and 
locations of the committee meetings are set out in the Schedule for 
Negotiations section under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION, below.

ADDRESSES: Please send your nominations for negotiators to Wendy 
Macias, U.S. Department of Education, 1990 K Street, NW., room 8017, 
Washington, DC 20006, or by fax at (202) 502-7874. You may also email 
your nominations to Wendy.Macias@ed.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information about the content of 
this notice, including information about the negotiated rulemaking 
process or the nomination submission process, contact: Wendy Macias, 
U.S. Department of Education, 1990 K Street, NW., room 8017, 
Washington, DC 20006. Telephone: (202) 502-7526. You may also email 
your questions about the nomination submission process to: 
Wendy.Macias@ed.gov.

    Note: For general information about the negotiated rulemaking 
process, see The Negotiated Rulemaking Process for Title IV 
Regulations, Frequently Asked Questions at http://www.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/hea08/neg-reg-faq.html.

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the 
Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free at 1-800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 5, 2011, we published a notice in the 
Federal Register (76 FR 25650) announcing our intent to establish one 
or more negotiated rulemaking committees to develop proposed 
regulations under the HEA. In addition, we announced our intent to 
develop these proposed regulations by following the negotiated 
rulemaking procedures in Section 492 of the HEA. The notice also 
announced a series of three regional hearings at which interested 
parties could comment on the topics suggested by the Department and 
suggest additional topics for consideration for action by the 
negotiating committees. We also held four public roundtable discussions 
to complement the regional hearings. The hearings and roundtables were 
held in: Nashville, Tennessee (roundtable only); Tacoma, Washington; 
Chicago, Illinois; and Charleston, South Carolina. We invited parties 
to comment and submit topics for consideration in writing as well. 
Transcripts from the regional hearings can be found at  http://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/2011/hearings.html. 
Written comments may be viewed through the Federal eRulemaking Portal 
at http://www.regulations.gov. Instructions for finding comments are 
available on the site under ``How to Use Regulations.gov'' in the Help 
section. Individuals can enter docket ID ED-2011-OPE-0003 in the 
``Enter Keyword or ID'' search box to locate the appropriate docket.
    Regulatory Issues: After consideration of the information received 
at the regional hearings, the roundtable discussions, and in writing, 
we have decided at this time to establish a negotiating committee to 
address student loan program issues. The three programs to be addressed 
are: The William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, the 
Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, and the Federal Perkins 
(Perkins) Loan Program.
    We list the topics the committee is likely to address under 
Committee Topics.
    We intend to select negotiators for the committee who represent the 
interests significantly affected by the topics proposed for 
negotiations. In so doing, we will follow the requirement in Section 
492(b)(1) of the HEA that the individuals selected must have 
demonstrated expertise or experience in the relevant subjects under 
negotiation. We will also select individual negotiators who reflect the 
diversity

[[Page 66881]]

among program participants, in accordance with Section 492(b)(1) of the 
HEA. Our goal is to establish a committee that will allow significantly 
affected parties to be represented while keeping the committee size 
manageable.
    The committee may create subgroups on particular topics that may 
involve additional individuals who are not members of the committee. 
Individuals who are not selected as members of the committee will be 
able to attend the meetings, have access to the individuals 
representing their constituencies, and participate in informal working 
groups on various issues between the meetings. The committee meetings 
will be open to the public.
    The Department has identified the following constituencies as 
having interests that are significantly affected by the topics proposed 
for negotiations. The Department plans to seat as negotiators 
individuals from organizations or groups representing these 
constituencies:
     Students.
     Legal assistance organizations that represent students.
     Consumer advocacy organizations.
     Financial aid administrators at postsecondary 
institutions.
     Business officers and bursars at postsecondary 
institutions.
     Admissions officers at postsecondary institutions.
     Institutional third-party servicers who perform functions 
related to the title IV programs (including collection agencies).
     State higher education executive officers.
     State attorneys general and other appropriate State 
officials.
     Business and industry.
     Institutions of higher education eligible to receive 
Federal assistance under title III, Parts A, B, and F and title V of 
the HEA, which include Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 
Hispanic-Serving Institutions, American Indian Tribally Controlled 
Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving 
Institutions, and other institutions with a substantial enrollment of 
needy students as defined in title III of the HEA.
     Two-year public institutions of higher education.
     Four-year public institutions of higher education.
     Private, non-profit institutions of higher education.
     Private, for-profit institutions of higher education.
     Guaranty agencies and guaranty agency servicers (including 
collection agencies).
     Lenders, secondary markets, and loan servicers.
     Regional accrediting agencies.
     National accrediting agencies.
     Specialized accrediting agencies.
     State approval agencies.
     State student grant agencies.
     State agencies addressing secondary education.
    The goal of the committee is to develop proposed regulations that 
reflect a final consensus of the committee. Consensus means that there 
is no dissent by any member of the negotiating committee, including the 
committee member representing the Department. An individual selected as 
a negotiator will be expected to represent the interests of their 
organization or group. If consensus is reached, all members of the 
organization or group represented by a negotiator are bound by the 
consensus and are prohibited from commenting negatively on the 
resulting proposed regulations. The Department will not consider any 
such negative comments that are submitted by members of such an 
organization or group.
    Nominations:
    Nominations should include:
     The name of the nominee, the organization or group the 
nominee represents, and a description of the interests that the nominee 
represents.
     Evidence of the nominee's expertise or experience in the 
subject, or subjects, to be negotiated.
     Evidence of support from individuals or groups of the 
constituency that the nominee will represent.
     The nominee's commitment that he or she will actively 
participate in good faith in the development of the proposed 
regulations.
     The nominee's contact information, including address, 
phone number, fax number, and email address.
    For a better understanding of the negotiated rulemaking process, 
nominees should review The Negotiated Rulemaking Process for Title IV 
Regulations, Frequently Asked Questions at http://www.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/hea08/neg-reg-faq.html prior to committing 
to serve as a negotiator.
    Nominees will be notified whether or not they have been selected as 
negotiators as soon as the Department's review process is completed.

Committee Topics

    The topics the committee is likely to address, for each of the 
three loan programs unless otherwise indicated, are as follows:
     Loan discharges based on total and permanent disability.
     Single application process.
     Borrower notification of denial.
     Post-discharge monitoring of employment earnings.
     Repeal of unnecessary regulations in the FFEL Program due 
to statutory changes and incorporation and modification of 
corresponding requirements in the Direct Loan Program regulations.
     Modifications to the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan and 
the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan in the Direct Loan and FFEL 
Programs.
     New borrower notification for annual IBR evaluation.
     Annual income verification.
     Borrower repayment after leaving IBR.
     Closed school loan discharge 90-day eligibility period for 
borrowers.
     Loan rehabilitation in the Direct Loan and FFEL Programs.
     Reasonable and affordable payment standard.
     Treatment of borrowers subject to administrative wage 
garnishment.
     Deadline for FFEL lender 60-day delinquent borrower 
repayment disclosure.
     Satisfactory repayment arrangements for defaulted 
borrowers.
     Forbearance.
     Borrowers under Department of Defense repayment plans.
     Process for defaulted borrowers.
     Participation rate index appeal for one-year cohort 
default rates.
     Perkins Loan only issues, including
     Economic hardship deferment debt-to-income provision.
     Graduate fellowship deferment eligibility.
     Social security number requirement for loan assignment.
     Cancellation rate progression across cancellation 
categories.
     School enrollment status reporting requirements.
     Minimum loan period for transfer students in non-term 
programs and certain non-standard term programs.
    These topics are tentative. Topics may be added or removed as the 
process continues.

Schedule for Negotiations

    The committee will meet for three sessions on the following dates:
    Session 1: January 9-13, 2012.
    Session 2: February 13-17, 2012.
    Session 3: March 26-30, 2012.
    All sessions will begin at 12 p.m. on Monday and end at 12 p.m. on 
Friday.
    The meetings will be held at the U.S. Department of Education at: 
1990 K Street, NW., Eighth Floor Conference Center, Washington, DC 
20006.
    Accessible Format: Individuals with disabilities can obtain this 
document in

[[Page 66882]]

an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact 
disc) by contacting the contact person under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT.
    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: http://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 
this site.
    You may also access documents of the Department published in the 
Federal Register by using the article search feature at http://www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search 
feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published 
by the Department.

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1098a.

    Dated: October 25, 2011.
Eduardo M. Ochoa,
Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.
[FR Doc. 2011-27982 Filed 10-27-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P