[Federal Register: March 2, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 42)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 13034]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



34 CFR Part 50

RIN 1845-AA21

Performance Standards for Retention of Electronic Records in the 
Student Financial Assistance Programs

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.


SUMMARY: The Secretary will propose rules to implement section 101(d) 
of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-
Sign Act), Public Law 106-229. These regulations will set forth 
proposed performance standards regarding the accuracy, integrity, and 
accessibility of electronic records that would apply to lenders, 
guaranty agencies, schools, and other parties administering any student 
financial assistance program authorized under Title IV of the Higher 
Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).

DATES: We must receive your comments on or before March 19, 2001. We 
are offering this limited comment period in order to expedite issuance 
of the proposed rule. Comments received by this date will be considered 
in the development of the proposed rule. As a consequence of the 
publication of this notice, and under section 107(b) of the E-Sign Act, 
the authority of a program participant to retain a required record in 
electronic form, in instances where that authority did not previously 
exist, will become effective on June 1, 2001, rather than on March 1, 

ADDRESSES: Address all comments about this advanced notice of proposed 
rulemaking to: Gail McLarnon, U. S. Department of Education, 1990 K 
St., NW., room 8062, Washington, DC 20006-8540. If you prefer to send 
your comments through the Internet, use the following address: 

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may 
call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339.
    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 in the preceding 



    The E-Sign Act provides, in part, that a signature, contract, or 
other record relating to a transaction may not be denied legal effect, 
validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form, or 
because an electronic signature or electronic record was used in its 
formation. By eliminating legal barriers, the E-Sign Act will allow 
lenders, guaranty agencies, schools, and other parties administering 
the Title IV, HEA student financial assistance programs to use 
electronic records and electronic signatures in place of records and 
signatures that, under the HEA and underlying regulations, must be 
maintained and provided in writing. Section 104(b)(3) of the E-Sign Act 
authorizes the Secretary to set forth general requirements regarding 
the accuracy, integrity, and accessibility of electronic records, and 
procedures relating to the maintenance of those records. The Secretary 
will be issuing proposed regulations that will contain such 
requirements and procedures.

Invitation to Comment

    We are seeking comments or suggestions on this notice. We are 
interested in comments on assuring approaches to assuring the accuracy, 
integrity, and accessibility of electronic records in the 
administration of the federal student aid programs. Specifically, we 
are interested in comments related to the maintenance of electronic 
records by program participants. Areas of interest include the 
     The timeframe to implement the use and maintenance of 
electronic records.
     The impact of using and maintaining electronic records on 
the integrity of the Federal student financial aid programs.
     The comparability between electronic records and hard copy 
paper records.

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 either of the 
following sites:


    To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available 
free at either of the previous sites. 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.

List of Subjects in 34 CFR Part 50

    Colleges and universities, Grant programs-education, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: February 27, 2001.
Rod Paige,
Secretary of Education.
[FR Doc. 01-5161 Filed 2-27-01; 4:34 pm]