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OPE Guidance Documents

Accessing OPE’s Guidance Documents

In accordance with Executive Order 13891, this page provides links to the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) inventory of guidance. On February 26, 2020, the Department published a Federal Register notice announcing the existence and location of this guidance portal at

The Department’s main guidance page can be found at

Federal Student Aid Programs

OPE is responsible for the implementation of programs authorized under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). OPE formulates Federal postsecondary education policy including policy relating to the Federal student aid programs authorized under Title IV of the HEA. The Knowledge Center at FSA Partner Connect website consolidates guidance, resources, and information related to the administration and processing of Title IV Federal student aid into one online site.

The most recent postings to the site are listed in the What's New section. Additionally, the majority of OPE's guidance is issued in the form of Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs) or electronic announcements (EAs). These guidance documents can be found at the Knowledge Center Homepage under the Quick Reference section and are organized by date and also by topic.

OPE also works with the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid to publish handbooks to help institutions of higher education navigate and comply with Department regulations. We publish both the Federal Student Aid Handbook and the Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting (Clery Act Handbook). These handbooks are updated regularly to reflect changes to statute, Department regulations, and Department policy.

Federal Student Aid Handbook

The Federal Student Aid Handbook consists of the Application and Verification Guide, nine numbered volumes, and appendices. Each volume and appendix is posted in the Knowledge Center after being reviewed and approved by the appropriate offices in Federal Student Aid and OPE.

Frequently Asked Questions

90/10 FAQs

Certification Procedures Regulations FAQs

Direct Assessment (Competency-Based) Programs FAQs

FAFSA Simplification FAQs

Financial Responsibility Regulations FAQs - Coming Soon

GE Program Length Limitations FAQs - Coming Soon

Institutional Readmission Requirements for Servicemembers FAQs

Prison Education Programs FAQs

Program Integrity FAQs

State Authorization Regulations FAQs

The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting

The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, which is sometimes referred to as the “Clery Handbook,” provides step-by-step procedures, examples, and references for higher education institutions to follow in meeting the campus safety and security requirements of the HEA.

The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting  PDF (3.4MB) (June 2016 Version)

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) CARES Act and CRRSAA Guidance Documents

HEERF II Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA)

HEERF CARES Act Guidance Documents


Under the HEA the Department “recognizes” (approves) agencies that the Secretary of Education determines to be reliable authorities as to the quality of education or training provided by institutions of higher education, and the Department publishes a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies. The Department does not accredit individual educational institutions or programs and is not directly involved in the institutional or programmatic accrediting process. The Department recognizes only agencies that apply for recognition; many do not. Along with its recognition decision, the Department designates the scope of accrediting activities to which its recognition pertains.

The Department publishes an accreditation handbook to assist accreditation agencies in complying with the HEA and Department regulations. Please find the handbook using the link below:

Other Accreditation Guidance

In addition, the Department has published several guidance documents to help accreditation agencies, institutions of higher education and students understand the recognition process.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Federal Recognition for Accrediting Agencies

Retroactive Establishment of the Date of Accreditation

Focused Review Guidance PDF (228K)

Guidelines for Requesting An Acceptability Determination For A Foreign Veterinary Accrediting Agency (OPE-Accreditation-12092020-01).MS Word (167K)

International and Foreign Language Education

The International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) office administers Title VI (domestic) and Fulbright-Hays (overseas) grant and fellowship programs that strengthen foreign language instruction, area/international studies teaching and research, professional development for educators, and curriculum development at the K-12, graduate, and postsecondary levels.

IFLE publishes Program Administrative Manuals (PAM) and handbooks for many of its grant programs to assist grantees in complying with the HEA, the Fulbright-Hays Act and Department regulations. These documents are generally reviewed and updated (as appropriate) every time the Department conducts a new competition for that grant program. IFLE has not published similar guides for the American Overseas Research Centers, Centers for International Business Education Program, and the International Research and Studies grant programs but plans to do so after FY 2020 competitions for such programs has been completed.

Guidance on Title VI Programs

Title VI Language Resource Centers FY2022 - 2025 Program Administration Manual PDF (1M)

National Resource Center (NRC) and Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) FY 2022 - 2025 Program Administration Manual PDF (2.6M)

Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program Administration Manual PDF (573K)

Guidance on Fulbright-Hays Programs

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Program Administration Manual PDF (314K); Frequently Asked Questions

Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad (GPA) Handbook; Frequently Asked Questions


Last Modified: 02/06/2024