[United States Statutes at Large, Volume 117, 108th Congress, 1st Session]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]


117 STAT. 904]]

Public Law 108-76
108th Congress

An Act


 
To provide the Secretary of Education with specific waiver authority to
respond to a war or other military operation or national
emergency. [NOTE: Aug. 18, 2003 -  [H.R. 1412]]

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, [NOTE: Higher Education
Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003.]

SECTION 1. [NOTE: 20 USC 1070 note.] SHORT TITLE; FINDINGS; REFERENCE.

(a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Higher Education
Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003''.
(b) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
(1) There is no more important cause than that of our
nation's defense.
(2) The United States will protect the freedom and secure
the safety of its citizens.
(3) The United States military is the finest in the world
and its personnel are determined to lead the world in pursuit of
peace.
(4) Hundreds of thousands of Army, Air Force, Marine Corps,
Navy, and Coast Guard reservists and members of the National
Guard have been called to active duty or active service.
(5) The men and women of the United States military put
their lives on hold, leave their families, jobs, and
postsecondary education in order to serve their country and do
so with distinction.
(6) There is no more important cause for this Congress than
to support the members of the United States military and provide
assistance with their transition into and out of active duty and
active service.

(c) Reference.--References in this Act to ``the Act'' are references
to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.).

SEC. 2. [NOTE: 20 USC 1070 note.] WAIVER AUTHORITY FOR RESPONSE TO
MILITARY CONTINGENCIES AND NATIONAL EMERGENCIES.

(a) Waivers and Modifications.--
(1) In general.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law,
unless enacted with specific reference to this section, the
Secretary of Education (referred to in this Act as the
``Secretary'') may waive or modify any statutory or regulatory
provision applicable to the student financial assistance
programs under title IV of the Act as the Secretary deems
necessary in connection with a war or other military operation
or national emergency to provide the waivers or modifications
authorized by paragraph (2).

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117 STAT. 905

(2) Actions authorized.--The Secretary is authorized to
waive or modify any provision described in paragraph (1) as may
be necessary to ensure that--
(A) recipients of student financial assistance under
title IV of the Act who are affected individuals are not
placed in a worse position financially in relation to
that financial assistance because of their status as
affected individuals;
(B) administrative requirements placed on affected
individuals who are recipients of student financial
assistance are minimized, to the extent possible without
impairing the integrity of the student financial
assistance programs, to ease the burden on such students
and avoid inadvertent, technical violations or defaults;
(C) the calculation of ``annual adjusted family
income'' and ``available income'', as used in the
determination of need for student financial assistance
under title IV of the Act for any such affected
individual (and the determination of such need for his
or her spouse and dependents, if applicable), may be
modified to mean the sums received in the first calendar
year of the award year for which such determination is
made, in order to reflect more accurately the financial
condition of such affected individual and his or her
family;
(D) the calculation under section 484B(b)(2) of the
Act (20 U.S.C. 1091b(b)(2)) of the amount a student is
required to return in the case of an affected individual
may be modified so that no overpayment will be required
to be returned or repaid if the institution has
documented (i) the student's status as an affected
individual in the student's file, and (ii) the amount of
any overpayment discharged; and
(E) institutions of higher education, eligible
lenders, guaranty agencies, and other entities
participating in the student assistance programs under
title IV of the Act that are located in areas that are
declared disaster areas by any Federal, State or local
official in connection with a national emergency, or
whose operations are significantly affected by such a
disaster, may be granted temporary relief from
requirements that are rendered infeasible or
unreasonable by a national emergency, including due
diligence requirements and reporting deadlines.

(b) Notice of Waivers or Modifications.--
(1) In general.--Notwithstanding [NOTE: Federal Register,
publication.] section 437 of the General Education Provisions
Act (20 U.S.C. 1232) and section 553 of title 5, United States
Code, the Secretary shall, by notice in the Federal Register,
publish the waivers or modifications of statutory and regulatory
provisions the Secretary deems necessary to achieve the purposes
of this section.
(2) Terms and conditions.--The notice under paragraph (1)
shall include the terms and conditions to be applied in lieu of
such statutory and regulatory provisions.
(3) Case-by-case basis.--The Secretary is not required to
exercise the waiver or modification authority under this section
on a case-by-case basis.

(c) Impact [NOTE: Deadline.] Report.--The Secretary shall, not
later than 15 months after first exercising any authority to issue a
waiver or

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117 STAT. 906

modification under subsection (a), report to the Committee on Education
and the Workforce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions of the Senate on the impact of any
waivers or modifications issued pursuant to subsection (a) on affected
individuals and the programs under title IV of the Act, and the basis
for such determination, and include in such report the Secretary's
recommendations for changes to the statutory or regulatory provisions
that were the subject of such waiver or modification.

(d) No Delay in Waivers and Modifications.--Sections 482(c) and 492
of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1089(c), 1098a) shall not
apply to the waivers and modifications authorized or required by this
Act.

SEC. 3. [NOTE: 20 USC 1070 note.] TUITION REFUNDS OR CREDITS FOR
MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES.

(a) Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that--
(1) all institutions offering postsecondary education should
provide a full refund to students who are affected individuals
for that portion of a period of instruction such student was
unable to complete, or for which such individual did not receive
academic credit, because he or she was called up for active duty
or active service; and
(2) if affected individuals withdraw from a course of study
as a result of such active duty or active service, such
institutions should make every effort to minimize deferral of
enrollment or reapplication requirements and should provide the
greatest flexibility possible with administrative deadlines
related to those applications.

(b) Definition of Full Refund.--For purposes of this section, a full
refund includes a refund of required tuition and fees, or a credit in a
comparable amount against future tuition and fees.

SEC. 4. [NOTE: 20 USC 1070 note.] USE OF PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT.

A financial aid administrator shall be considered to be making a
necessary adjustment in accordance with section 479A(a) of the Act if
the administrator makes adjustments with respect to the calculation of
the expected student or parent contribution (or both) of an affected
individual, and adequately documents the need for the adjustment.

SEC. 5. [NOTE: 20 USC 1070 note.] DEFINITIONS.

In this Act:
(1) Active duty.--The term ``active duty'' has the meaning
given such term in section 101(d)(1) of title 10, United States
Code, except that such term does not include active duty for
training or attendance at a service school.
(2) Affected individual.--The term ``affected individual''
means an individual who--
(A) is serving on active duty during a war or other
military operation or national emergency;
(B) is performing qualifying National Guard duty
during a war or other military operation or national
emergency;
(C) resides or is employed in an area that is
declared a disaster area by any Federal, State, or local
official in connection with a national emergency; or

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117 STAT. 907

(D) suffered direct economic hardship as a direct
result of a war or other military operation or national
emergency, as determined by the Secretary.
(3) Military operation.--The term ``military operation''
means a contingency operation as such term is defined in section
101(a)(13) of title 10, United States Code.
(4) National emergency.--The term ``national emergency''
means a national emergency declared by the President of the
United States.
(5) Serving on active duty.--The term ``serving on active
duty during a war or other military operation or national
emergency'' shall include service by an individual who is--
(A) a Reserve of an Armed Force ordered to active
duty under section 12301(a), 12301(g), 12302, 12304, or
12306 of title 10, United States Code, or any retired
member of an Armed Force ordered to active duty under
section 688 of such title, for service in connection
with a war or other military operation or national
emergency, regardless of the location at which such
active duty service is performed; and
(B) any other member of an Armed Force on active
duty in connection with such war, operation, or
emergency or subsequent actions or conditions who has
been assigned to a duty station at a location other than
the location at which such member is normally assigned.
(6) Qualifying national guard duty.--The term ``qualifying
National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or
national emergency'' means service as a member of the National
Guard on full-time National Guard duty (as defined in section
101(d)(5) of title 10, United States Code) under a call to
active service authorized by the President or the Secretary of
Defense for a period of more than 30 consecutive days under
section 502(f) of title 32, United States Code, in connection
with a war, another military operation, or a national emergency
declared by the President and supported by Federal funds.

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117 STAT. 908

SEC. 6. [NOTE: 20 USC 1070 note.] TERMINATION OF AUTHORITY.

The provisions of this Act shall cease to be effective at the close
of September 30, 2005.

Approved August 18, 2003.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 1412:
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CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 149 (2003):
Apr. 1, considered and passed House.
July 31, considered and passed Senate.
WEEKLY COMPILATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS, Vol. 39 (2003):
Aug. 18, Presidential statement.