[Federal Register: January 15, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 10)]
[Page 2165-2167]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

Download: PDF Version

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Part III

Department of Education


Rehabilitation Training: Rehabilitation Long-Term Training Program--
Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling; Notice

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Rehabilitation Training: Rehabilitation Long-Term Training 
Program--Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling

AGENCY: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 
Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of final priority.


SUMMARY: The Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education 
and Rehabilitative Services announces a priority under the 
Rehabilitation Training: Rehabilitation Long-Term Training program. The 
Assistant Secretary may use this priority for competitions in fiscal 
year (FY) 2003 and in later years. We take this action to focus on 
training in an area of national need. This priority is designed to 
increase the number of rehabilitation counseling programs that provide 
experiential activities for students, such as formal internships, 
practicum agreements, and other partnership activities with State 
vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies. This priority supports a close 
relationship between the educational institution and the State VR 
agency by creating or increasing ongoing collaboration in order to 
increase the number of graduates who seek employment in State VR 

EFFECTIVE DATES: This priority is effective February 14, 2003.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Beverly Steburg, U.S. Department of 
Education, RSA, 61 Forsyth Street, SW., Suite 18T91, Atlanta, GA 30303. 
Telephone (404) 562-6336 or via Internet: Beverly.Steburg@ed.gov
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the TDD number at (202) 205-8133.
    Individuals with disabilities may obtain this document in an 
alternative format (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, or computer 
diskette) on request to the contact person listed under FOR FURTHER 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: State VR agencies throughout the nation are 
experiencing a personnel shortage of qualified VR counselors. While 
currently only a small percentage of Rehabilitation Services 
Administration (RSA)-funded graduates seek employment with State VR 
agencies, a survey conducted by the Council of State Administrators of 
Vocational Rehabilitation indicates that individuals who are aware of 
the distinct role of the qualified VR counselor and benefits of 
employment within a State VR agency are more likely to seek employment 
with the State.
    This priority increases the number of rehabilitation counseling 
projects that incorporate formal experiential activities for students 
with State VR agencies.
    We published a notice of proposed priority for this program in the 
Federal Register on August 19, 2002 (67 FR 53870). The notice of 
proposed priority included a discussion of the significant issues and 
analysis used in the determination of this priority.
    There are no differences between the notice of proposed priority 
and this notice of final priority.

Analysis of Comments and Changes

    In response to our invitation in the notice of proposed priority, 
eight parties submitted comments on the proposed priority. An analysis 
of the comments and of any changes in the priority since publication of 
the notice of proposed priority follows.
    Generally, we do not address technical and other minor changes--and 
suggested changes the law does not authorize us to make under the 
applicable statutory authority. We may choose to address those changes 
if we received a significant number of comments on a particular issue.
    Comments: Two commenters recommended that the priority not 
establish new counseling training programs but be earmarked to provide 
support to a greater number of existing rehabilitation counselor 
training programs.
    Discussion: The program authority establishes eligible applicants 
for the program. We have no authority to further restrict applicant 
    Changes: None.
    Comments: Three commenters recommended that funds be used to 
provide existing programs with support to conduct recruitment programs 
to encourage more students to enter rehabilitation counseling programs.
    Discussion: We agree that recruitment activities to encourage more 
individuals to enter rehabilitation counseling programs are important. 
Grantees may use non-scholarship project funds to support recruitment 
activities. RSA also supports recruitment activities through other 
avenues, including the Regional Rehabilitation Continuing Education 
Program (RRCEP).
    Changes: None.
    Comments: Four commenters recommended using scholarship funds to 
provide paid internships with State VR agencies.
    Discussion: The Rehabilitation Long-Term Training program limits 
scholarship assistance to the individual's cost of attendance at the 
academic degree or certificate-granting institution. Scholarships 
include payback obligations upon completion of the course of study, and 
grantees may not require other work as a condition of scholarships.
    Changes: None.
    Comment: One commenter recommended limiting internships with 
experiential opportunities to specific need areas within rehabilitation 
counseling, including the use of innovative technologies, multicultural 
competency, and counseling of particular disability groups.
    Discussion: While it is possible for RSA to limit the required 
internship activities to particular counseling areas, we choose not to 
do so in this priority. Programs may choose in their applications to 
develop internships with a particular focus, including those listed by 
the commenter. Peer reviews of all applications received will assess 
the value of proposed projects. We encourage programs and students to 
explore any experiential activities that enhance students' knowledge of 
the VR system.
    Changes: None.

    Note: This notice does not solicit applications. In any year in 
which we choose to use this priority, we invite applications through 
a notice in the Federal Register. When inviting applications we 
designate the priority as absolute, competitive preference, or 
invitational. The effect of each type of priority follows:

    Absolute priority: Under an absolute priority, we consider only 
applications that meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(3)).
    Competitive preference priority: Under a competitive preference 
priority, we give competitive preference to an application by either 
(1) awarding additional points, depending on how well or the extent to 
which the application meets the competitive priority (34 CFR 
75.105(c)(2)(i)); or (2) selecting an application that meets the 
competitive priority over an application of comparable merit that does 
not meet the priority (34 CFR 75.105(c)(2)(ii)).
    Invitational priority: Under an invitational priority, we are 
particularly interested in applications that meet the invitational 
priority. However, we do not give an application that meets the 
invitational priority a competitive or absolute preference over other 
applications (34 CFR 75.105(c)(1)).

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Partnership With the State VR Agency

    This priority supports projects that will increase the knowledge of 
students of the role and responsibilities of the VR counselor and of 
the benefits of counseling in State VR agencies. This priority focuses 
attention on and intends to strengthen the unique role of 
rehabilitation educators and State VR agencies in the preparation of 
qualified VR counselors by increasing or creating ongoing collaboration 
between institutions of higher education and State VR agencies.
    Projects funded under this priority must include within the degree 
program information about and experience in the State VR system. 
Projects must include partnering activities for students with the State 
VR agency including experiential activities, such as formal internships 
or practicum agreements. In addition, experiential activities for 
students with community-based rehabilitation service providers are 
    Projects must include an evaluation of the impact of project 

Intergovernmental Review

    This program is subject to Executive Order 12372 and the 
regulations in 34 CFR part 79. One of the objectives of the Executive 
order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and a strengthened 
federalism. The Executive order relies on processes developed by State 
and local governments for coordination and review of proposed Federal 
financial assistance.
    This document provides early notification of our specific plans and 
actions for this program.
    Applicable Program Regulations: 34 CFR parts 385 and 386.

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://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/index.html

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.129B Rehabilitation 
Long-Term Training)

    Program Authority: 29 U.S.C. 772.

    Dated: January 10, 2003.
Robert H. Pasternack,
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
[FR Doc. 03-868 Filed 1-15-03; 8:45 am]