FR Doc E8-3616[Federal Register: February 26, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 38)]
[Page 10233-10235]
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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

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section 487A(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), 
to submit a letter of application to participate in the program.

DATES: Letters of application may be submitted any time after February 
26, 2008.

ADDRESSES: Institutions may apply to participate in the Quality 
Assurance Program by mailing a letter of application to Barbara Mroz, 
Federal Student Aid, 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:

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Warren Farr, Federal Student Aid, U.S. 
Department of Education, 830 First Street, NE., UCP-3, Room 83G4, 
Washington, DC 20202-5232; telephone: (202) 377-4380, or via the 
    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    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 Programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher 
Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). The vision of the Quality 
Assurance Program, with 151 institutions currently participating, is to 
provide tools that help all institutions of higher education 
participating in the Federal Student Aid Programs to promote better 
service to students, compliance with title IV requirements, and 
continuous improvement in program delivery. The Quality Assurance 
Program encourages participating institutions to develop and implement 
their own comprehensive systems to verify student financial aid 
application data, and continually assess compliance with Federal 
    The Secretary is authorized to waive for any institution 
participating in the Quality Assurance Program any regulations dealing 
with reporting or verification requirements, thus providing 
participating institutions with regulatory flexibility for the 
verification of student data, and encouraging 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 22 years, the program has achieved its 
goal 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 Institutional Student 
Information Record (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 elements on the student's Free Application for 
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) changed when verified, but also what impact 
these changes have upon the student's Expected Family Contribution 
(EFC) and aid eligibility. This analysis helps financial 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 
Federal Student Aid 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 
Federal Student Aid 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. In the letter of application, the 
institution should state its Quality Assurance plan as well as what it 
will measure to achieve 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 process 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 l-

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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:

    Program Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1094a.

    Dated: February 21, 2008.
Lawrence A. Warder,
Acting Chief Operating Officer, Federal Student Aid.
[FR Doc. E8-3616 Filed 2-25-08; 8:45 am]