[Federal Register: February 24, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 36)]
[Page 9215-9216]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Notice of Proposed Information Collection Requests

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Proposed collection; comment request.


SUMMARY: The Secretary of Education requests comments on the Free 
Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that the Secretary proposes 
to use for the 1999-2000 award year. The FAFSA is completed by students 
and their families and the information submitted on the form is used to 
determine the students' eligibility and financial need for the student 
financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher 
Education Act of 1965, as amended, (Title IV, HEA Programs).

DATES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before 
March 26, 1998.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be addressed to the Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attention: Danny Werfel, Desk 
Officer, Office of Management and Budget, 725 17th Street, NW., Room 
10235, New Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20503. Requests 
for copies of the proposed information collection requests should be 
addressed to Patrick J. Sherrill, Department of Education, 600 
Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 5624, Regional Office Building 3, 
Washington, DC 20202-4651. In addition, interested persons can access 
this document at the following website: ``http://www.ed.gov/offices/
OPE/Professionals.'' Once at this website, the reader should go to the 
``What's New'' area to locate the 1999-2000 FAFSA.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patrick J. Sherrill (202) 708-8196. 
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.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 483 of the Higher Education Act of 
1965, as amended (HEA), requires the Secretary, ``in cooperation with 
agencies and organizations involved in providing student financial 
assistance,'' to ``produce, distribute and process free of charge a 
common financial reporting form to be used to determine the need and 
eligibility of a student under'' the Title IV, HEA Programs. This form 
is the FAFSA. In addition, section 483 authorizes the Secretary to 
include on the FAFSA up to eight non-financial data items that would 
assist States in awarding State student financial assistance.
    In a notice published in the Federal Register of March 18, 1997, 
the Secretary noted that the Department of Education was reengineering 
the FAFSA and looking anew at all the questions on the form. The 
Secretary asked for comment on questions that applicants were not 
required to answer in order to have their eligibility and need for 
Title IV, HEA Programs determined. The Secretary also requested comment 
with regard to which of the questions were integral to State student 
aid programs.
    In addition to requesting comments in that notice, in May and June 
of 1997, the Secretary convened public meetings in New York, St. Louis, 
San Diego, and Washington, D.C. for the purpose of receiving comments 
on early drafts of the reengineering FAFSA. Further, at the invitation 
of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Officers (NASFAA), 
in July the Department conducted a forum on a later draft of the 
reengineered FAFSA at NASFAA's annual convention in Philadelphia.
    The Secretary revised the FAFSA that was disseminated for comment 
based upon the suggestions made by the commenters in the Spring and 
Summer of 1997, and in the Federal Register of November 24, 1997, 62 FR 
62568-61570, the Secretary published a notice requesting additional 
comment on this latest revised FAFSA. In that notice, the Secretary 
described the changes in the FAFSA from the previous disseminated 
    As a result of the November 24, 1997 Federal Register notice, the 
Department received comments and suggestions from over 80 commenters. 
These comments and suggestions related to the following substantive 
    * Student's ``permanent'' telephone number. Many comments
objected to the deletion of this item from the form. Many institutions 
indicated that they used the student's telephone number in ways helpful 
to students. Other institutions indicated that the number was useful in 
keeping track of borrowers under the Federal Family Education Loan 
(FFEL) and Federal Direct Loan Programs. Although very little is 
``permanent'' about a student's telephone number, the Secretary has 
agreed to add this item back on the form for the reasons stated by the 
    * Untaxed income and benefits. Many commenters objected to
the deletion of specific questions about untaxed income. The commenters 
felt that the accuracy of information would suffer if the form just 
requested the total of such income. In particular, commenters objected 
to the elimination of the item for earned income credit. We again 
request earned income credit on the FAFSA. Space would not allow the 
addition of other items.
    * The inclusion of additional questions on the form would
have required the form to expand beyond the current four pages. The 
Secretary believed that it was important to keep the actual FAFSA 
application to four pages in order to minimize any changes to the 
automated processing system which will begin to process these new forms 
in January of 1999, and to meet the requirements of scanning 
technology. The Secretary also believed that expansion of the form 
would have been inconsistent with goals of simplifying and clarifying 
the current form. As a result, it was not possible to

[[Page 9216]]

include on the form all the questions relating to nontaxable income 
that the commenters thought should be specifically included.
    The Secretary is publishing this additional request for comment 
under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 
Secs. 3501 et seq. Under that Act, ED must obtain the review and 
approval of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before it may use 
a form to collect information. However, under the procedure for 
obtaining approval from OMB, ED must first obtain public comment on the 
proposed form, and to obtain that comment, ED must publish this notice 
in the Federal Register.
    To accommodate the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, the 
Secretary is interested in receiving comments with regard to the 
following matters: (1) is this collection necessary to the proper 
functions of the Department, (2) will this information be processed and 
used in a timely manner, (3) is the estimate of burden accurate, (4) 
how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of 
the information to be collected, and (5) how might the Department 
minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including 
through the use of information technology.

    Dated: February 18, 1998.
Gloria Parker,
Deputy Chief Information Officer, Office of the Chief Information 

Office of Postsecondary Education

    Type of Review: Revision.
    Title: Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
    Frequency: Annually.
    Affected Public: Individuals and families.
    Annual Reporting and Recordkeeping Hour Burden: Responses: 
9,998,997; Burden Hours: 6,274,770.
    Abstract: The FAFSA collects identifying and financial information 
about a student and his or her family if the student applies for Title 
IV, Higher Education Act (HEA) Program funds. This information is used 
to calculate the student's expected family contribution, which is used 
to determine a student's financial need. The information is also used 
to determine the student's eligibility for grants and loans under the 
Title IV, HEA Programs. It is further used for determining a student's 
eligibility and need for State and institutional financial aid 

[FR Doc. 98-4615 Filed 2-23-98; 8:45 am]