[Federal Register: September 9, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 174)]
[Page 48411-48413]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

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Part V

Department of Education
Federal Student Assistance Programs Under Title IV of the Higher
Education Act of 1965, as Amended; Notice

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

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice inviting applications for participation in the Quality 
Assurance Program.


SUMMARY: The Secretary invites institutions of higher education that 
are not currently participating in the Quality Assurance (QA) Program 
under section 487A of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, to 
submit a letter of application to participate beginning with the 1998-
1999 award year. An institution that wishes to apply may do so by: (1) 
Mailing a letter of application to Barbara Mroz, U.S. Department of 
Education, 600 Independence Avenue, SW (Room 3925, ROB-3), Washington, 
DC 20202-5232; (2) faxing its application to (202) 708-9485; or (3) 
submitting its application electronically to Mr. Warren Farr at 
Warren__Farr@Ed.gov or Mr. John Hill at John__Hill@Ed.gov.

DATES: Applications may be submitted any time after September 9, 1998.

John Hill, telephone: (202) 260-4788. Individuals who use a 
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 
p.m., Eastern time, Monday through Friday. Individuals with 
disabilities may obtain this document in an alternate format (e.g., 
Braille, large print, audio tape or computer diskette) on request to 
the contract person listed in the preceding paragraph.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Department of Education is undertaking a 
series of initiatives to simplify regulations and administrative 
processes for the Federal student assistance programs authorized by 
Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).
    As a part of this student aid reform effort, the Secretary intends 
to expand the QA Program. Begun on a pilot basis in 1985, the QA 
Program currently permits participating institutions to develop and 
implement their own comprehensive systems to verify student financial 
aid application data. Participation in the program is entirely 
voluntary. The Secretary is authorized to exempt participating 
institutions from the reporting and verification requirements that 
would otherwise apply and to substitute other quality assurance 
reporting requirements for them.
    The Department continues to support expansion of the QA Program to 
include more comprehensive flexibility in areas such as institutional 
processing and disbursements of Title IV funds, verification of student 
financial aid application data, and student services.
    Presently, 142 schools participate in the QA program, and the 
Secretary has exempted these schools from several provisions of the 
Student Assistance General Provisions regulations relating to 
verification. Beginning with the 1998-99 award year, the Secretary 
intends to expand the QA Program by increasing the number of schools 
that participate in it.

Invitation for Applications

    The Secretary invites institutions of higher education that 
administer one or more Title IV programs to submit applications to 
participate in the QA Program beginning with the 1998-1999 award year. 
Institutions that currently participate in the program may continue to 
do so without submitting new applications. Because training workshops 
will be scheduled during the fall, institutions are encouraged to apply 
as soon as possible. The Secretary anticipates that the review of 
applications will begin within 45 days of the date of this notice. 
However, applications that are received later will also be considered.
    The Secretary will review applications on the basis of demonstrated 
institutional performance, as indicated by information currently on 
file that pertains to the institution and information in the letter of 
application that reflects the institution's commitment to the 
Secretary's current quality assurance goals. Those goals are the 
    (1) To improve the accuracy of Title IV student aid awards;
    (2) To increase institutional flexibility in managing student aid 
funds while maintain accountability for the proper use of those funds;
    (3) To encourage the development of innovative management 
approaches; and
    (4) To place responsibility for quality control and quality 
improvement at the point where funds and services are delivered--the 

Features of the Program

    The QA Program is a management tool for the institutions and an 
alternative oversight strategy for the Federal government. Institutions 
are given the flexibility to conduct self-assessments to find their 
strengths and weaknesses. Institutions are also provided with a 
methodology to measure findings and design corrective measures for 
quality improvements.
    QA is a program that works at large research institutions, as well 
as 2-year colleges, and at public, private, and proprietary 
institutions. It provides participants with the tools, techniques, and 
framework to change and improve the way they work. It is a partnership 
between the Department and the participating institutions where both 
parties become engaged in promoting continuous improvement in the 
administration and delivery of the student financial assistance 
programs and services.
    The Secretary encourages institutions participating in the QA 
Program to employ a continuous cycle of assessment and improvement as 
they develop and implement their systems to verify student aid 
application data. Institutions evaluate their verification procedures, 
adopt improvements in those procedures, test the effects of those 
improvements, and adopt further improvements.
    Institutions that participate in the QA program will be free to 
develop and implement their own comprehensive verification systems. It 
is the Secretary's intention to exempt QA institutions from certain 
designated requirements in 34 CFR Part 668, Subpart E.
    As provided by section 487A(b) of the HEA, the Secretary may 
substitute other quality assurance reporting requirements that may be 
necessary to ensure accountability and compliance with Title IV 
    The Secretary believes that the process of continuous improvement 
in verification systems fostered by the QA Program has enhanced the 
integrity of those systems at participating institutions. By expanding 
the program to include other management areas, the Secretary believes 
that it can serve to promote improvements, not only in the accuracy of 
student aid awards and payments, but also in the management of student 
aid offices and the delivery of services to students.

Electronic Access to This Document

    Anyone may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in the text or 
portable document format (pdf) on the World Wide Web at either of the 
following sites:


    To use the pdf you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader Program with

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Search, which is available free at either of the previous sites. If you 
have questions about using the pdf, call the U.S. Government Printing 
Office toll free at 1-800-293-6498.
    Anyone may also view these documents in text copy only on an 
electronic bulletin board of the Department. Telephone (202) 219-1511 
or, toll free, 1-800-222-4922. The documents are located under Option 
G-files/Announcements, Bulletins and Press Releases.

    Note: The official version of this document is the document 
published in the Federal Register.

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 2753.

    Dated: September 1, 1998.
David A. Longanecker,
Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.
[FR Doc. 98-24088 Filed 9-8-98; 8:45 am]