Federal Student Aid - IFAP
   
DCLPublicationDate: 11/1/96
DCLID: GEN-96-21
AwardYear:
Summary: DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO HOLD REGIONAL MEETINGS IN DECEMBER FOR REAUTHORIZATION OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION ACT


November 1996

GEN-96-21


DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO HOLD REGIONAL
MEETINGS IN DECEMBER FOR REAUTHORIZATION OF THE
HIGHER EDUCATION ACT


Dear Colleague:

As the Department of Education begins to develop proposals to
reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), we look to build upon
our accomplishments of the last four years in providing access to
students and increasing educational opportunity. As part of this
effort, we are very interested in obtaining your input and
suggestions on how we can improve the programs authorized under
the HEA. To facilitate such conversation, we are convening a series
of regional meetings in December.

I have enclosed a list of dates, times, and locations of the regional
meetings as well as information on how to submit written comments
(see Enclosure 1). I have also enclosed the goals and principles that
will focus the Department's efforts as we develop and consider
reauthorization proposals (see Enclosure 2). These goals and
principles are designed to improve access to postsecondary education
for all students, reduce burden where appropriate, and ensure
accountability of taxpayer funds. At the end of this enclosure, I have
included a series of questions that you might consider as you think
about reauthorization. I hope that your institution will be represented
at one of these meetings or that you will submit comments and
suggestions as we proceed with reauthorization.

Sincerely,



David A. Longanecker


Enclosure 1 - Regional Meetings for Reauthorization of the HEA
Enclosure 2 - The Department of Education's Goals and Principles
for the Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act


ENCLOSURE 1

REGIONAL MEETINGS FOR REAUTHORIZATION OF THE
HEA

The Department will convene six regional meetings to obtain public
comment for use in developing proposals for the reauthorization of
the Higher Education Act (HEA). Participants are welcome to raise
issues relating to the reauthorization of the HEA, either by attending
the regional meetings or submitting written comments. Individuals
who wish to testify at any of the regional hearings are encouraged to
do so. Time allotted for each individual to testify will be limited and
will depend on the number of speakers wishing to testify at each
session. It is likely that each participant choosing to testify will be
limited to three minutes or less.

The dates and location of the six regional meetings appear below.
We have reserved a limited number of rooms at each of the
following hotels at a special government per diem room rate. To
reserve these rates, be certain to inform the hotel that you are
attending the reauthorization hearings with the Department of
Education. The meetings are open to the public, and the meeting
rooms and proceedings will be accessible for individuals with
disabilities. When making reservations, individuals must indicate
the need for any special accommodations. If you have any questions
concerning these regional meetings, please call Sandra Wood or
Tia Cosey at (202) 205-2987.

DATES, TIME AND LOCATION OF REGIONAL MEETINGS

DECEMBER 6, 1996, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., Atlanta Hilton &
Towers, Atlanta, Georgia; 1-404-659-2000 and ask for reservations.

DECEMBER 9, 1996, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., Holiday Inn Select,
Phoenix, Arizona; 1-602-273-7778 and ask for reservations.

DECEMBER 10, 1996, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., Park Plaza Hotel,
San Francisco, California 1-800-411-7275 and ask for reservations.

DECEMBER 12, 1996, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., Hotel Sofitel,
Chicago, Illinois 1-800-233-5959 and ask for reservations.

DECEMBER 13, 1996, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., Back Bay Hilton
Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts. 1-800-874-0663 and ask for
reservations.

DECEMBER 17, 1996, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., Washington Hilton
Hotel, Washington, District of Columbia 1-202-797-5820 & ask for
reservations.

WRITTEN COMMENTS

You are also invited to submit written comments and
recommendations regarding the reauthorization of the Higher
Education Act. Comments must be received by the Department on
or before January 31, 1997. Comments may be submitted at the
regional meetings, mailed to Adam Ochlis, 600 Independence
Avenue, S.W., ROB-3, Room 4050, Washington, DC 20202, or sent
to the following internet address that has been created specifically for
reauthorization: reauth_1@ed.gov


ENCLOSURE 2


THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION'S GOALS AND
PRINCIPLES FOR THE REAUTHORIZATION OF THE HIGHER
EDUCATION ACT

Student financial aid programs and other programs authorized under
the Higher Education Act (HEA) have dramatically increased access
to higher education for a broad range of students. As the Department
of Education begins to consider proposals to reauthorize the HEA, it
looks to build upon its accomplishments in providing access to
students and increasing educational opportunity.

In recent years, the Department has worked hard to help students pay
for postsecondary education. The amount of Federal student aid
available increased by $10 billion between 1993 and 1995. With the
enactment of the fiscal year 1997 appropriations bill, aid available to
students will increase to a record total of $36 billion for an estimated
7.7 million students. In particular, the Pell Grant maximum award
will increase from $2,300 in 1993 to $2,700 in 1997, and the amount
appropriated for the College Work-Study program will increase 35
percent, to $830 million, from 1996 to 1997. The Department has
also worked to expand access and encourage first-generation, low-
income, college students to attend and complete college. In fiscal
year 1997, the Federal TRIO programs will be funded at $500
million, an increase of $37 million. These programs will serve
approximately 685,000 at-risk students by providing outreach and
support services, as well as information about postsecondary
education opportunities.

The Administration has also proposed the Hope Scholarship tax
credit, a $10,000 tax deduction for education and training expenses,
and the ability to withdraw from Individual Retirement Accounts to
help pay for postsecondary education. These initiatives would
promote access and savings for postsecondary education for eligible
individuals. In addition, the Presidential Honors Scholarship
proposal would encourage academic excellence by providing a
$1,000 scholarship to every high school student graduating in the top
five percent of his or her class. And the Administration's national
service initiative, AmeriCorps, continues to provide scholarships and
loan forgiveness to students in return for community service.

In addition, the Student Loan Reform Act in 1993 has revolutionized
the federal student loan system by reducing costs for borrowers and
creating the Direct Loan program, a simpler, more automated and
accountable system. The Direct Loan program offers borrowers a
choice of repayment options, including income-contingent
repayment, that makes it easier for borrowers to manage their
student loan debt. Even students who have not borrowed under the
Direct Loan program have benefited from improvements in the
Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) programs through reduced
fees and improved customer service as a result of increased
competition between the two programs.


Overall, the programs authorized under the HEA work well and
provide a strong foundation of support for higher education. As part
of reauthorization, the Department will consider how to make these
programs work better and how to ensure that they complement the
President's proposed initiatives to increase savings for education and
to reduce taxes for persons who invest in their education.
Reauthorization will occur in the context of a growing population of
college students who need financial assistance, making this effort
that much more important.

The Department's proposals will build on the accomplishments of the
past four years and incorporate the following goals and principles,
which aim to improve access to postsecondary education, reduce
burden where appropriate, and ensure accountability for taxpayer
funds.

I.- ACCESS -- OPPORTUNITY WITH RESPONSIBILITY. The
Department of Education will continue to strive to ensure access
to higher education for all students, while encouraging families
and students to take responsibility for their own education. In
this time of increasing demand for higher education and tight
federal and state budgets, students and their parents must take an
even more active role in financing their educations.

• STUDENTS. As primary beneficiaries of postsecondary
education, students should invest in themselves and make the
most of their educational opportunities. They should be
rewarded for high academic performance and should not be
penalized for saving or working to pay for college. Options for
achieving these principles include further increases in the Pell
Grant maximum, continuation of strong campus-based programs
including the Work-Study program, providing students with a
range of options for loan repayment (including income
contingent repayment), encouraging students to save or work to
finance their education, and providing necessary support for
students with special needs.

• FAMILIES. To the extent that families are able to finance or
contribute to their children's educations, they must accept this
responsibility. Financial aid, including grants, work study, and
loans, and tax incentives should be provided to help families and
students meet this responsibility. The perception that families
are penalized for saving must be changed, and the federal
government should provide appropriate vehicles to encourage
parents to save for their children's educations. Examples of
ways that the federal government can encourage access and
saving include increasing the maximum Pell Grant award,
enacting the HOPE Scholarship proposal and the $10,000 tuition
tax deduction, and allowing Individual Retirement Accounts to
be used for higher education.

• FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. The federal government can help
families pay for college through targeted financial aid and tax
incentives. This role includes making students aware of their
opportunities early so that they can prepare, academically and
financially, for college, as well as making the financial aid
delivery system more efficient.

• STATES. State governments play a vital role in providing
access to postsecondary education through support for public
colleges and universities and state student aid. The states should
continue to invest in the education of their students in spite of
tight state budgets and limited resources.

• POSTSECONDARY INSTITUTIONS. Postsecondary
institutions have the opportunity to obtain federal funds to help
students pay for college and the responsibility to provide quality
programs and support to students. Institutions also have the
responsibility to be fiscally responsible, especially in their
management of federal funds.

II. - SUPPORT OF EFFECTIVE EDUCATION -- HIGH
STANDARDS/HIGH ACHIEVEMENT. Federal programs
should continue to promote and enhance outstanding educational
opportunities and encourage students to take advantage of those
opportunities to the best of their abilities. The federal
government's programs and oversight responsibilities should
also encourage the effective use of new technology and other
innovations in the delivery of postsecondary education to
provide high quality postsecondary education that meets the
changing needs of students.

III.- SIMPLIFY PROGRAM DELIVERY AND IMPROVE
MANAGEMENT. Students and postsecondary institutions
should continue to receive outstanding customer service in a
predictable and seamless way so that they are assured of aid and
can plan ahead. In particular, Federal programs should be
simplified and burden should be reduced as much as possible
while maintaining accountability for federal funds. The
Department has worked during the past four years to reinvent
regulations and reduce burden by eliminating requirements that
do not protect the Federal fiscal interest, improve
accountability, or protect students.

• PROVIDING STRONG CUSTOMER SERVICE. The
reauthorization of the HEA should provide for an environment
in which students are recognized as the most important
customers of financial aid. Customer service should be
expanded to make the delivery of student aid as efficient and
effective as possible.

• REDUCING BURDEN. The Department of Education must
administer its programs with the least burden possible on
students, families, and institutions, while protecting students
and federal funds. Statutory, regulatory, and administrative
burden must be reduced wherever possible for all institutions,
and the Federal government should provide additional burden
reduction to institutions with a record of outstanding
management of federal programs and to institutions that pose
little financial risk to Federal funds.

• ENSURING ACCOUNTABILITY. The Department of
Education must ensure that taxpayer funds are not wasted or
abused. Institutions that are not providing strong education or
training should not be eligible to participate in federal
programs.

IV. - IMPROVING OUTREACH TO POTENTIAL STUDENTS
AND LINKAGES TO EMPLOYMENT AND
ELEMENTARY/SECONDARY EDUCATION PROGRAMS.
The Department of Education must improve outreach to
secondary students, including disabled and disadvantaged
students. Federal programs should also help students move into
the workforce.

QUESTIONS

As the previous principles and goals indicate, the Department is
committed to enhancing access to postsecondary education for all
students and working to reduce the costs and burdens associated with
the programs. The Department seeks comments, ideas, or
suggestions on the issues and ideas presented here, as well as the
following questions, as it begins to develop proposals for
reauthorization.

a. How can the Federal government continue to provide better
access and promote additional educational opportunity for all
students, including students with disabilities, within the
framework of the Higher Education Act? How can the Federal
government encourage greater persistence and completion of
postsecondary education?

b. How can existing programs be changed and made to work more
efficiently and effectively?

c. How can the programs be changed to eliminate any unnecessary
burdens on students, institutions, or the Federal government, yet
maintain accountability of taxpayer funds?

d. Are there other ideas or initiatives that should be considered
during reauthorization that would improve the framework in
which the Federal government promotes access to postsecondary
education and ensures accountability of taxpayer funds?