Publication Date: April 12, 2011

Posted Date: April 12, 2011

Subject: Notice inviting letters of application for participation in the Quality Assurance Program

FR Type: Notice

[Federal Register: April 8, 2011 (Volume 76, Number 68)]
[Notices]              
[Page 19757-19758]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr08ap11-44]                        

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DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

The Federal Student Aid Programs Under Title IV of the Higher
Education Act of 1965, as Amended

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice inviting letters of application for participation in the
Quality Assurance Program.

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SUMMARY: The Secretary of Education invites institutions of higher
education that may wish to participate in the Quality Assurance
Program, under section 487A(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as
amended (HEA), to submit a letter of application to participate in the
program.

DATES: Letters of application may be submitted any time after April 8,
2011.

ADDRESSES: Institutions may apply to participate in the Quality
Assurance Program by addressing a letter of application to Barbara
Mroz, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, and submitting
this letter of application electronically to the Quality Assurance
mailbox at: Quality.Assurance@ed.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Warren Farr, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, 830 First Street, NE., UCP-3, Room 43H2,
Washington, DC 20202-5232. Telephone: (202) 377-4380, or by e-mail:
Warren.Farr@ed.gov.
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the
Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an
accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audio tape or computer
diskette) on request by contacting the person listed under FOR FURTHER
INFORMATION CONTACT.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Institutions of higher education are invited to join the Department
in an effort to simplify regulations and administrative processes for
the Federal Student Aid Programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher
Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). The goal of the Quality
Assurance Program is to provide tools that help all institutions of
higher education participating in these programs (Title IV, HEA
programs) to promote better service to students, compliance with Title
IV requirements, and continuous improvement in program delivery. The
Quality Assurance Program encourages and provides tools to assist
participating institutions to develop and implement their own
comprehensive systems to verify student financial aid application data,
and continually assess compliance with Federal requirements.
    Pursuant to section 487A(a)(3) of the HEA (20 U.S.C. 1094a(a)(3)),
the Secretary is authorized to waive for any institution participating
in the Quality Assurance Program any regulations dealing with reporting
or verification requirements, thus providing participating institutions
with regulatory flexibility for the verification of student data, and
encouraging alternative approaches that improve award accuracy.
    The Secretary believes that the data provided to the Department by
the institutions participating in the Quality

[[Page 19758]]

Assurance Program have influenced Federal verification policies. The
data provided by participating institutions have addressed not only the
accuracy of student aid awards and payments, but also the management of
student aid offices and the delivery of services to students.

Features of the Program

    The Quality Assurance Program gives institutions tools and
techniques to assess, measure, analyze, correct, and prevent compliance
problems. The Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) Analysis
Tool provides participating institutions with data for achieving
targeted verification outcomes, as explained below. The evaluation
tools that QA schools must complete (``FSA Assessments'') help schools
develop policies and procedures as well as strengthen compliance.
    The Secretary encourages institutions participating in the Quality
Assurance Program to evaluate their verification policies and
procedures and adopt improvements to those procedures. Institutions
measure performance and test the effectiveness of their verification
program by using the Department's ISIR Analysis Tool. The ISIR Analysis
Tool is a Web-based software product that provides financial aid
administrators with an in-depth analysis of their applicant population.
It allows them to see not only which elements on the student's Free
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) changed when verified, but
also what impact these changes have on the student's Expected Family
Contribution (EFC) and aid eligibility. This analysis helps financial
aid administrators develop a targeted institutional verification
program, which ultimately makes the financial aid process easier for
students, while ensuring accountability and program integrity.
    The Quality Assurance Program also helps institutions make
improvements beyond verification. By using the FSA Assessments, school
staff in the financial aid office can, through teamwork, set goals for
excellence in all areas of financial aid delivery on their campus.
Another benefit of participating in the Quality Assurance Program is
that both parties become engaged in promoting program integrity,
stewardship, and customer service in the administration and delivery of
the student financial assistance programs, thereby producing a more
positive customer experience.

Invitation for Applications

    The Secretary invites institutions of higher education that
administer one or more Title IV, HEA programs to submit a letter of
application to participate in the Quality Assurance Program.
Institutions that currently participate in the program may continue to
do so without submitting a new letter of application. The Secretary
will review the letter of application, which should reflect the
institution's commitment to:
    Improve the accuracy of institutional verification
programs;
    Increase institutional flexibility in managing student aid
funds, while maintaining accountability for the proper use of those
funds; and
    Encourage the development of innovative management
approaches to strengthen stewardship by using the FSA Assessments.

Review Process

    The Department will screen prospective participants to determine if
the institution meets general Title IV, HEA eligibility requirements
and has a demonstrated record of program compliance. The Secretary may
also consider the institution's performance with regard to financial
responsibility, administrative capability, program review findings,
audit findings, etc. as outlined in the applicable regulations and in
the Federal Student Aid Handbook.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may 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) on the Internet at the following site: http://
www.ed.gov/news/fedregister
.
    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available
free at this site.

    Note:  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
.

    Program Authority:  20 U.S.C. 1094a(a).

    Dated: April 5, 2011.
William J. Taggart,
Chief Operating Officer, Federal Student Aid.
[FR Doc. 2011-8458 Filed 4-7-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4000-01-P

Attachments/Enclosures:

This Federal Register is in PDF Format

   

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