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Input being sought on revamped rules for student aid program.

WASHINGTON -- Negotiated rulemaking committees will give the higher education community a chance for early input on new financial aid rules.

The Office of Postsecondary Education announced it will form committees to help draft proposed regulations to implement the changes governing Title IV under the reauthorized Higher Education Act.

After drafting the proposed rules, the office intends to place them for public comment before adopting final rules. The office has not decided whether to form one or more committees to draft rules governing other sections of the law, or whether it will merely propose rules for public comment.

The office also scheduled six public hearings at which the public may suggest issues for the committees to consider. It scheduled them for Sept. 19, Fort Worth, Texas; Sept. 29, Providence, R.I.; Oct. 2, Malibu, Calif.; Oct. 6, Charlotte, N.C.; Oct. 8, Washington, D.C.; and Oct. 15, Cleveland.

Meanwhile, the office is taking public comments until Oct. 8 on issues to consider. Send them to Wendy Macias, U.S. Department of Education, 1990 K St. NW, room 8017, Washington, DC 20006, fax (202) 502-7874, HEOA08@ed.gov.

After considering public suggestions, the office will decide what subjects committees will consider and ask for nominations. It anticipates determining the makeup of the committees by the end of the year and getting the committees to work by February.

Dan Madzelan, director of forecasting and policy analysis at OPE and the designated federal official for the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, told the committee at an August teleconference that his office is "looking through amendments line by line" in the reauthorization bill.

Madzelan said the office hopes to issue final rules by next July.

He wryly noted that he expects to hear many complaints about the law in the public comment process set by Congress that the rule makers cannot change.

The department also plans to listen to opinions at student aid conferences scheduled this fall in Dallas and Las Vegas, he said.

Madzelan told the committee that with a change in administration, OPE probably can't do much more than gather information until next year. He stated that a transition team might be able to start work in late November.

The National Center for Education Statistics, meanwhile, will change its Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System information collection to comply with the law. Reauthorization requires new data on the College Navigator website by next August. Colleges, therefore, will have to provide more information on their Updated Institutional Characteristics form. The center has yet to work out details pending approval by the Office of Management and Budget.

But colleges will have to report which alternative payment plans they accept, such as tuition guarantees and prepaid tuition plans.

They will also have to provide information on what student activities they offer, services offered to students with disabilities and job placement services.
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Title Annotation:dateline Washington
Author:Pekow, Charles
Publication:Community College Week
Date:Sep 22, 2008
Words:476
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