Posted Date: November 15, 2011

Author:  Jeff Baker, Director, Policy Liaison and Implementation, Federal Student Aid

Subject: Experimental Sites Initiative - Reminder of December 12 Deadline and Q&As

On October 27, 2011, we published a notice in the Federal Register (76 FR 66698) soliciting requests from postsecondary educational institutions to participate in one or more of eight experiments that will be conducted under the Experimental Sites Initiative authorized by section 487A(b) of the HEA. The deadline for an institution to respond to the solicitation is December 12, 2011.

Since publication of the Federal Register notice we have received numerous questions about the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI), including a number of questions about the request submission process. While we hope that the following Questions and Answers (Q&As) provide needed information to institutions, it is important that interested parties carefully review the Federal Register notice, especially the details of each of the eight experiments in the Supplementary Information section of the notice.

The ESI Federal Register notice is provided below as a link in this Electronic Announcement or it can be assessed directly at:

http://ifap.ed.gov/fregisters/FR102711ExperimentalSitesInitiative.html

Experimental Sites Initiative Q&As


Q1. Can an institution request to participate in more than one of the eight experiments?

A1. Yes. As noted at the beginning of the Federal Register notice and on page 66699, an institution can request to participate in one or more of the eight listed experiments.

Q2. Will all institutions that request to participate in an experiment be allowed to participate?

A2. No. As noted on page 66699 of the Federal Register notice, only a limited number of institutions will be selected to participate in each experiment.

Q3. Does submission by an institution of a request to participate in an experiment commit the institution if it is selected?

A3. No. While it is important that only serious requests be submitted, an institution does not make a commitment to participate simply by submitting a request. Only after the Department has selected an institution for an experiment and briefed the institution on the requirements of the experiment, will a commitment be required.

Q4. How should I write my proposal?

A4. Institutions do not submit proposals to participate in an experiment. Interested institutions only submit a request to participate. Institutions should carefully review and follow the submission instructions on page 66699 of the Federal Register notice and the request deadline of December 12, 2011 as noted on page 66698 of the notice.

Q5. How will the Department choose which institutions it will invite to participate in each experiment?

A5. As noted on page 66699 of the Federal Register notice, a limited number of institutions will be selected for each experiment. Selected institutions will represent a cross-section of Title IV eligible institutions, considering a number of institutional characteristics including: institutional type and control, geographic location, enrollment size, and Title IV participation levels. Selected institutions will be those with a strong track record in the administration of the Title IV student assistance programs. The Federal Register notice provides additional information on institutional selection including a discussion of the impact of an institution’s cohort default rate and, where applicable, its 90/10 calculation.

Q6. When will the experiments begin?

A6. The beginning date of an experiment will depend on a number of factors including: the nature of the experiment, the time needed by the institution to begin administering Title IV aid under the terms of the experiment, and the ability of the institution to begin the collection of required data. Data collection requirements are provided beginning on page 66700 of the Federal Register notice. Therefore, each of the experiments may begin at a different time and one experiment may begin at different times at different institutions. The specific begin date for an experiment at an institution will be determined at a later time after consultation with the institution.

Q7.

What information must be provided in an institution’s request to be considered for an experiment?

A7.

Except for certain additional information that must be provided by institution’s requesting to participate in Experiment #6 – Limiting unsubsidized loan amounts, the information that must be included in an institution’s letter requesting participation in one or more of the listed experiments is provided on page 66699 of the Federal Register notice. As noted, the letter must include the institution’s official name and Department of Education OPEID and a mailing address, email address, FAX number, and phone number for a contact person at the institution.

Institutions requesting to participate in Experiment #6 – Limiting unsubsidized loan amounts, must also include in their letter a clear statement, as required on page 66704 of the Federal Register notice, of which one(s) of the three noted issues the institution wishes to test. Those issues, as noted in the Federal Register notice are; Over-borrowing, Lack of loan availability, and Unintended consequences at for-profit colleges.


Q8. After submitting a letter requesting to participate in one or more of the experiments, what should the institution expect?

A8.

Upon submission of a letter requesting to participate in one or more of the experiments the following will occur –

  • ED staff will review the institution to determine if it meets the standards for participation as noted in Q&A #5, above.
  • ED staff will recommend to senior ED managers a cohort of institutions that meets the institutional cross-section provision as discussed in Q&A # 5 above.
  • Upon senior management approval, ED staff will email the contact person at each of the institutions in each experiment’s cohort asking if the institution continues to be interested in participating in the experiment.
  • Institutions that remain interested in participating in the experiment will be invited to participate in a conference call where the details and institutional requirements of the experiment will be discussed.
  • Following the conference calls, each institution must inform the Department of its intent to participate in the experiment under the terms discussed on the call.
  • Final selection of institutions will be made with notification provided to the institutional contact.
  • The Program Participation Agreement (PPA) of each institution that will participate in one or more experiments will be modified to reflect the terms of that participation.
  • Experiments will begin consistent with the timeframe agreed to between the institution and the Department.

Of course, institutions that were not selected to participate in an experiment will be notified as soon as that decision is made.

We suggest that institutions continuously monitor the Experimental Sites web site for additional information regarding the ESI. Questions can be sent to the ESI mailbox at experimentalsites@ed.gov.

The ESI Federal Register notice is provided below as a link in this Electronic Announcement or it can be assessed directly at:

http://ifap.ed.gov/fregisters/FR102711ExperimentalSitesInitiative.html

   

End of Page