[Federal Register: October 23, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 205)]
[Page 53591-53592]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Federal Student Assistance 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.


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 

DATES: Letters of application may be submitted any time after October 
23, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Institutions wishing to apply to participate in the Quality 
Assurance Program may do so by mailing a letter of application to 
Barbara Mroz, U.S. Department of Education, 830 First Street, NE., 
Washington, DC 20202-5232 or by submitting a letter of application 
electronically to Barbara Mroz at: Barbara.Mroz@ed.gov

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sharyn Hutson, U.S. Department of 
Education, 830 First Street, NE., Washington, DC 20202-5232, telephone: 
(202) 377-4379, or via internet: Sharyn.Hutson@ed.gov
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-888-877-8339.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audio tape or computer 
diskette) on request by contacting the person listed under FOR FURTHER 



    Institutions of higher education are invited to join the Department 
in an effort to simplify regulations and administrative processes for 
the Federal Student Financial Assistance (SFA) Programs authorized by 
Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). The 
vision of the Quality Assurance Program, with 143 institutions 
currently participating, is to provide tools that help all Title IV 
institutions promote better service to students, compliance, and 
continuous improvement in program delivery. The program encourages 
participating institutions to develop and implement their own 
comprehensive systems to verify student financial aid application data.
    The Department continues to support the expansion of the Quality 
Assurance Program. The Secretary is authorized to provide participating 
institutions with regulatory flexibility for the verification of 
student data, and to encourage alternative management approaches in the 
areas of institutional processing and disbursement of Title IV funds, 
and entrance and exit counseling.
    The Secretary believes that the process of continuous improvement 
fostered by the institutions already participating in the Quality 
Assurance Program has enhanced 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. By expanding the Quality 
Assurance Program to include other management areas, the Secretary 
believes it can serve more institutions and promote further 

Features of the Program

    The mission of the Quality Assurance Program is to help schools 
attain, sustain, and advance exceptional student aid delivery and 
service excellence. For the past 16 years, the program has done that by 
providing participating institutions with the flexibility to design an 
institutional verification program that more directly focuses on their 
own population segments. It has also helped them target areas of 
administration that affect award accuracy or that may leave the 
institution vulnerable to potential liabilities.
    The Quality Assurance Program has given institutions the tools and 
techniques to assess, measure, analyze, correct and prevent problems, 
and has provided them with data on which to base their decisions for 
solving problems and addressing verification items.
    The Secretary encourages institutions participating in the Quality 
Assurance Program to evaluate their policies and procedures and adopt 
improvements in those procedures. Institutions measure performance and 
test the effectiveness of their verification program by using the 
Department's Quality Analysis Tool. The Quality Analysis Tool is an 
Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) analysis software 
product that provides Financial Aid Administrators with an in-depth 
analysis of their applicant population. It allows them to see not only 
which FAFSA elements changed when verified, but also what impact these 
changes have upon the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This analysis 
helps Financial Aid Administrators develop a targeted institutional 
verification program, which makes the financial aid process easier for 
    The Quality Assurance Program also helps institutions make 
improvements beyond verification. It helps them set goals for 
continuous improvement in all areas of financial aid delivery, rather 
than be satisfied just to achieve basic compliance. It is a management 
tool that works well at all types of institutions,

[[Page 53592]]

including 2- and 4-year public, private, and proprietary. One key 
benefit of the program: institutions have reported better service to 
students as a primary outcome of their participation in the Quality 
Assurance Program. The program is a partnership between the Department 
and the participating institutions. Both parties become engaged in 
promoting continuous improvement in the administration and delivery of 
the student financial assistance programs, thereby enhancing service to 

Invitation for Applications

    The Secretary invites institutions of higher education that 
administer one or more Title IV 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 the goals of the Quality Assurance Program, 
as determined by the Secretary. The letter of application should 
address the following goals in detail:
     Attain and sustain compliance and continuous improvement 
in program delivery, and better service to students;
     Improve the accuracy of institutional verification 
     Increase institutional flexibility in managing student aid 
funds, while maintaining accountability for the proper use of those 
     Encourage the development of innovative management 
approaches that advance quality.

Review Process

    The Department will screen prospective participants to determine if 
the institution meets general Title IV 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 regulations and in the Student 
Financial Aid Handbook: Institutional Eligibility and Participation 
section. 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.

Electronic Access to This Document

    You may view this document, as well as all other Department of 
Education documents published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe 
Portable Document Format (PDF) on the Internet at the following site: 
    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at this site. If you have questions about using PDF, call the U.S. 
Government Printing Office (GPO), toll free, at 1-888-293-6498; or in 
the Washington, DC area at (202) 512-1530.

    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 on GPO Access at: http://

    Dated: October 17, 2001.
Greg Woods,
Chief Operating Officer, Student Financial Assistance.
[FR Doc. 01-26648 Filed 10-22-01; 8:45 am]