FR Doc 05-6745
[Federal Register: April 6, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 65)]
[Page 17421-17422]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []
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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.


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 April 6, 

ADDRESSES: Institutions wishing to apply to participate in the Quality 
Assurance Program may do so by mailing a letter of application to 
Barbara Mroz, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, 830 
First Street, NE., room 84F1, Washington, DC 20202-5232 or by 
submitting a letter of application electronically to Barbara Mroz at:

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sharyn Hutson, Federal Student Aid, 
U.S. Department of Education, 830 First Street, NE., room 83G3, 
Washington, DC 20202-5232. Telephone: (202) 377-4379, or via e-mail:
    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 Aid (FSA) Programs authorized by Title IV of the 
Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). The vision of the 
Quality Assurance Program, with 145 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, and continually 
assess compliance to Federal requirements.
    The Secretary is authorized to provide participating institutions 
with regulatory flexibility for the verification of student data, and 
to encourage alternative approaches that improve award accuracy.
    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.

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 19 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 issues.
    The Secretary encourages institutions participating in the Quality 
Assurance Program to evaluate their student aid or verification 
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 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 FAFSA 
elements changed when verified, but also what impact these changes have 
upon the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and aid eligibility. This 
analysis helps Financial

[[Page 17422]]

Aid Administrators develop a targeted institutional verification 
program, which ultimately makes the financial aid process easier for 
students, while ensuring accountability and integrity.
    The Quality Assurance Program also helps institutions make 
improvements beyond verification and basic compliance. By using the FSA 
Assessments, schools can set goals for continuous improvement in all 
areas of financial aid delivery. One key benefit of the program is the 
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 students.

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 
funds; and
     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 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:

    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:

    Dated: March 31, 2005.
Theresa S. Shaw,
Chief Operating Officer Federal Student Aid.
[FR Doc. 05-6745 Filed 4-5-05; 8:45 am]