[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 224 (Wednesday, November 20, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 69612-69614]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-27850]


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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

34 CFR Chapter VI

[Docket ID ED-2013-OPE-0130]


Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, Negotiator Nominations and 
Schedule of Committee Meetings--Title IV Federal Student Aid Programs, 
Program Integrity and Improvement

AGENCY: Office of Postsecondary Education, Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of intention to establish.

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SUMMARY: We announce our intention to establish a negotiated rulemaking 
committee to prepare proposed regulations to address program integrity 
and improvement issues for the Federal Student Aid programs authorized 
under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) 
(title IV Federal Student Aid programs). The committee will include 
representatives of organizations or groups with interests that are 
significantly affected by the subject matter of the proposed 
regulations. 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 December 20, 2013. The dates, times, and 
locations of the committee meetings are set out in the Schedule for 
Negotiations section in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

ADDRESSES: Please send your nominations for negotiators to Wendy 
Macias, U.S. Department of Education, 1990 K Street NW., Room 8017, 
Washington, DC 20006. Telephone: (202) 502-7526 or by email: 
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 or by email: wendy.macias@ed.gov.
    For general information about the negotiated rulemaking process, 
see The Negotiated Rulemaking Process for Title IV Regulations, 
Frequently Asked Questions at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/hea08/neg-reg-faq.html.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or text 
telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay

[[Page 69613]]

Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 1, 2012, we published a notice in the 
Federal Register (77 FR 25658) announcing our intent to establish a 
negotiated rulemaking committee under section 492 of the HEA to develop 
proposed regulations designed to prevent fraud and otherwise ensure 
proper use of title IV Federal Student Aid program funds, especially 
within the context of current technologies. In particular, we announced 
our intent to propose regulations to address the use of debit cards and 
other banking mechanisms for disbursing title IV Federal Student Aid 
program funds, and to improve and streamline the campus-based Federal 
Student Aid programs. We also announced two public hearings at which 
interested parties could comment on the topics suggested by the 
Department and suggest additional topics for consideration for action 
by the negotiated rulemaking committee. Those hearings were held on May 
23, 2012, in Phoenix, Arizona, and on May 31, 2012, in Washington, DC. 
We invited parties to comment and submit topics for consideration in 
writing as well.
    On April 16, 2013, we published a notice in the Federal Register 
(78 FR 22467), which we corrected on April 30, 2013 (78 FR 25235), 
announcing additional topics for consideration for action by the 
negotiated rulemaking committee. The additional topics for 
consideration were cash management of funds provided under the title IV 
Federal Student Aid programs; State authorization for programs offered 
through distance education or correspondence education; State 
authorization for foreign locations of institutions located in a State; 
clock to credit hour conversion; gainful employment; changes made by 
the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, Public Law 113-
4 (VAWA), to the campus safety and security reporting requirements in 
the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime 
Statistics Act (Clery Act); and the definition of ``adverse credit'' 
for borrowers in the Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program. We announced 
three public hearings at which interested parties could comment on the 
new topics suggested by the Department and suggest additional topics 
for consideration for action by the negotiating committee. On May 13, 
2013, we announced in the Federal Register (78 FR 27880) the addition 
of a fourth hearing. The hearings were held on May 21, 2013, in 
Washington, DC; May 23, 2013, in Minneapolis, Minnesota; May 30, 2013, 
in San Francisco, California; and June 4, 2013, in Atlanta, Georgia. We 
also invited parties unable to attend a public hearing to submit 
written comments on the additional topics and to submit other topics 
for consideration. Transcripts from all six public hearings are 
available at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/2012/index.html. Written comments submitted in response to the May 1, 2012, 
and April 16, 2013, notices may be viewed through the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal at 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-2012-OPE-0008 
in the search box to locate the appropriate docket.
    On June 12, 2013, we announced our intention to establish a 
negotiated rulemaking committee to prepare proposed regulations to 
establish standards for programs that prepare students for gainful 
employment in a recognized occupation (78 FR 35179). On September 19, 
2013, we announced our intention to establish a negotiated rulemaking 
committee to prepare proposed regulations to address the changes made 
by the VAWA to the campus safety and security reporting requirements in 
the Clery Act (78 FR 57571).
    Regulatory Issues: After considering the information received at 
the regional hearings and the written comments, we have decided to 
establish a third negotiating committee to prepare proposed regulations 
to address program integrity and improvement issues for the title IV 
Federal Student Aid programs. We list the specific topics the Program 
Integrity and Improvement Committee is likely to address under 
Committee Topics, below.
    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 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. 
Such 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.
    Committee Topics: The topics the Program Integrity and Improvement 
Committee is likely to address are:
     Cash management of funds provided under the title IV 
Federal Student Aid programs, including the use of debit cards and the 
handling of title IV credit balances.
     State authorization for programs offered through distance 
education or correspondence education.
     State authorization for foreign locations of institutions 
located in a State.
     Clock to credit hour conversion.
     The definition of ``adverse credit'' for borrowers in the 
Federal Direct PLUS Loan Program.
     The application of the repeat coursework provisions to 
graduate and undergraduate programs.
    These topics are tentative. Topics may be added or removed as the 
process continues.
    The committee's consideration of the cash management regulations 
will concern, in part, whether they provide opportunities to deter 
fraud and otherwise ensure proper use of title IV Federal Student Aid 
program funds within the context of current technologies. We note that 
the Department has taken a number of non-regulatory steps to address 
the concerns in this area raised by the September 26, 2011, Office of 
Inspector General's (OIG) Investigative Program Advisory Report. On 
October 20, 2011, the Department issued Dear Colleague Letter GEN-11-
17, recommending actions that institutions can take to detect and 
prevent fraud in distance education programs and announcing the 
establishment of a Department-wide task force on the subject. The 
Department also implemented changes to the verification requirements. 
For example, Dear Colleague Letter GEN-13-09, published March 8, 2013, 
describes Department screening procedures for students with unusual 
enrollment histories and requires institutions to resolve the resulting 
Institutional Student Information Record codes for these students. We 
believe that these non-regulatory efforts will mitigate the 
vulnerabilities identified by the OIG report, and will

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consider their results in deciding whether additional rule changes are 
needed in the future to address student fraud.
    The Department continues to review the valuable testimony offered 
at the public hearings and the comments submitted through the public 
comment process regarding other proposed rulemaking topics, and may 
form additional committees to consider other topics.
    Constituencies: We have 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.
     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, Predominantly Black 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.
     Regional accrediting agencies.
     National accrediting agencies.
     Specialized accrediting agencies.
     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 Federal Student Aid programs (including 
collection agencies).
     State approval agencies.
     Lenders, community banks, and credit unions.
    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 his or her 
organization or group and participate in the negotiations in a manner 
consistent with the goal of developing proposed regulations on which 
the committee will reach consensus. 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 on the proposed regulations that are 
submitted by members of such an organization or group.
    Nominations: Nominations should include:
     The committee for which the nominee is nominated (Program 
Integrity and Improvement).
     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 
subjects to be negotiated.
     Evidence of support from individuals or groups within 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.
    Schedule for Negotiations: The Program Integrity and Improvement 
Committee will meet for three sessions on the following dates:

Session 1: February 19-21, 2014
Session 2: March 26-28, 2014
Session 3: April 23-25, 2014

    Sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    The committee meetings will be held at the U.S. Department of 
Education at: 1990 K Street NW., Eighth Floor Conference Center, 
Washington, DC 20006.
    The meetings are open to the public.
    Accessible Format: 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.
    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 the 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.

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

    Dated: November 15, 2013.
Lynn B. Mahaffie,
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning, and Innovation, 
delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the 
Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.
[FR Doc. 2013-27850 Filed 11-19-13; 8:45 am]
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