[Federal Register: November 19, 1996 (Volume 61, Number 224)]
[Page 58937-58940]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

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Part IV

Department of Education


Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act; Notice

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Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act

AGENCY: Department of Education.

ACTION: Notice of regional meetings and request for comment to obtain
public involvement in the development of policies relating to the
reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.


SUMMARY: The Secretary will convene six public meetings to obtain 
public comment for use in developing proposals for the reauthorization 
of the Higher Education Act. In addition, the Secretary invites written 
comments, suggestions, or ideas regarding reauthorization proposals.

DATES: Comments must be received by the Department on or before January 
31, 1997. Comments may also be submitted at regional meetings to be 
held on December 6-17, 1996. (See dates, time and location of regional 
meetings under the ``Supplementary Information'' section of this 

ADDRESSES: All comments concerning the reauthorization of the Higher 
Education Act should be addressed to Adam Ochlis, 600 Independence 
Avenue, S.W., ROB-3, Room 4050, Washington, DC 20202 or to the 
following internet address that has been created specifically for 
reauthorization: reauth__1ed.gov

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Persons wishing to obtain additional 
information regarding the regional meetings should call Sandra Wood or 
Tia Cosey at (202) 205-2987. 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: Student financial aid programs and other 
programs authorized under the Higher Education Act (HEA) have 
dramatically increased access to higher education for a broad range of 
students. As the Department of Education begins to consider proposals 
to reauthorize the HEA, it looks to build upon its accomplishments in 
providing access to students and increasing educational opportunity.
    In recent years, the Department has worked hard to help students 
pay for postsecondary education. The amount of Federal student aid 
available increased by $10 billion between 1993 and 1995. With the 
enactment of the fiscal year 1997 appropriations bill, aid available to 
students will increase to a record total of $36 billion for an 
estimated 7.7 million students. In particular, the Pell Grant maximum 
award will increase from $2,300 in 1993 to $2,700 in 1997, and the 
amount appropriated for the College Work-Study program will increase 35 
percent, to $830 million, from 1996 to 1997. The Department has also 
worked to expand access and encourage first-generation, low-income, 
college students to attend and complete college. In fiscal year 1997, 
the Federal TRIO programs will be funded at $500 million, an increase 
of $37 million. These programs will serve approximately 685,000 at-risk 
students by providing outreach and support services, as well as 
information about postsecondary education opportunities.
    The Administration has also proposed the Hope Scholarship tax 
credit, a $10,000 tax deduction for education and training expenses, 
and the ability to withdraw from Individual Retirement Accounts to help 
pay for postsecondary education. These initiatives would promote access 
and savings for postsecondary education for eligible individuals. In 
addition, the Presidential Honors Scholarship proposal would encourage 
academic excellence by providing a $1,000 scholarship to every high 
school student graduating in the top five percent of his or her class. 
And the Administration's national service initiative, AmeriCorps, 
continues to provide scholarships and loan forgiveness to students in 
return for community service.
    In addition, the Student Loan Reform Act in 1993 has revolutionized 
the federal student loan system by reducing costs for borrowers and 
creating the Direct Loan program, a simpler, more automated and 
accountable system. The Direct Loan program offers borrowers a choice 
of repayment options, including income-contingent repayment, that makes 
it easier for borrowers to manage their student loan debt. Even 
students who have not borrowed under the Direct Loan program have 
benefited from improvements in the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) 
programs through reduced fees and improved customer service as a result 
of increased competition between the two programs.
    Overall, the programs authorized under the HEA work well and 
provide a strong foundation of support for higher education. As part of 
reauthorization, the Department will consider how to make these 
programs work better and how to ensure that they complement the 
President's proposed initiatives to increase savings for education and 
to reduce taxes for persons who invest in their education. 
Reauthorization will occur in the context of a growing population of 
college students who need financial assistance, making this effort that 
much more important.
    The Department's proposals will build on the accomplishments of the 
past four years and incorporate the following goals and principles, 
which aim to improve access to postsecondary education, reduce burden 
where appropriate, and ensure accountability for taxpayer funds.
    I. Access--opportunity with responsibility. The Department of 
Education will continue to strive to ensure access to higher education 
for all students, while encouraging families and students to take 
responsibility for their own education. In this time of increasing 
demand for higher education and tight federal and state budgets, 
students and their parents must take an even more active role in 
financing their educations.
    * Students. As primary beneficiaries of postsecondary
education, students should invest in themselves and make the most of 
their educational opportunities. They should be rewarded for high 
academic performance and should not be penalized for saving or working 
to pay for college. Options for achieving these principles include 
further increases in the Pell Grant maximum, continuation of strong 
campus-based programs including the Work-Study program, providing 
students with a range of options for loan repayment (including income 
contingent repayment), encouraging students to save or work to finance 
their education, and providing necessary support for students with 
special needs.
    * Families. To the extent that families are able to finance
or contribute to their children's educations, they must accept this 
responsibility. Financial aid, including grants, work study, and loans, 
and tax incentives should be provided to help families and students 
meet this responsibility. The perception that families are penalized 
for saving must be changed, and the federal government should provide 
appropriate vehicles to encourage parents to save for their children's 
educations. Examples of ways that the federal government can encourage 
access and saving include increasing the maximum Pell Grant award, 
enacting the HOPE Scholarship proposal and the $10,000 tuition tax 
deduction, and allowing Individual Retirement Accounts to be used for 
higher education.
    * Federal government. The federal government can help
families pay for college through targeted financial aid and tax 
incentives. This role includes making students aware of their

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opportunities early so that they can prepare, academically and 
financially, for college, as well as making the financial aid delivery 
system more efficient.
    * States. State governments play a vital role in providing
access to postsecondary education through support for public colleges 
and universities and state student aid. The states should continue to 
invest in the education of their students in spite of tight state 
budgets and limited resources.
    * Postsecondary institutions. Postsecondary institutions
have the opportunity to obtain federal funds to help students pay for 
college and the responsibility to provide quality programs and support 
to students. Institutions also have the responsibility to be fiscally 
responsible, especially in their management of federal funds.
    II. Support of effective education--high standards/high 
achievement. Federal programs should continue to promote and enhance 
outstanding educational opportunities and encourage students to take 
advantage of those opportunities to the best of their abilities. The 
federal government's programs and oversight responsibilities should 
also encourage the effective use of new technology and other 
innovations in the delivery of postsecondary education to provide high 
quality postsecondary education that meets the changing needs of 
    III. Simplify program delivery and improve management. Students and 
postsecondary institutions should continue to receive outstanding 
customer service in a predictable and seamless way so that they are 
assured of aid and can plan ahead. In particular, Federal programs 
should be simplified and burden should be reduced as much as possible 
while maintaining accountability for federal funds. The Department has 
worked during the past four years to reinvent regulations and reduce 
burden by eliminating requirements that do not protect the Federal 
fiscal interest, improve accountability, or protect students.
    * Providing strong customer service. The reauthorization of
the HEA should provide for an environment in which students are 
recognized as the most important customers of financial aid. Customer 
service should be expanded to make the delivery of student aid as 
efficient and effective as possible.
    * Reducing burden. The Department of Education must
administer its programs with the least burden possible on students, 
families, and institutions, while protecting students and federal 
funds. Statutory, regulatory, and administrative burden must be reduced 
wherever possible for all institutions, and the Federal government 
should provide additional burden reduction to institutions with a 
record of outstanding management of federal programs and to 
institutions that pose little financial risk to Federal funds.
    * Ensuring accountability: The Department of Education must
ensure that taxpayer funds are not wasted or abused. Institutions that 
are not providing strong education or training should not be eligible 
to participate in federal programs.
    IV. Improving outreach to potential students and linkages to 
employment and elementary/secondary education programs. The Department 
of Education must improve outreach to secondary students, including 
disabled and disadvantaged students. Federal programs should also help 
students move into the workforce.


    As the previous principles and goals indicate, the Department is 
committed to enhancing access to postsecondary education for all 
students and working to reduce the costs and burdens associated with 
the programs. The Department seeks comments, ideas, or suggestions on 
the issues and ideas presented here, as well as the following 
questions, as it begins to consider proposals for reauthorization.
    a. How can the Federal government continue to provide better access 
and promote additional educational opportunity for all students, 
including students with disabilities, within the framework of the 
Higher Education Act? How can the Federal government encourage greater 
persistence and completion of postsecondary education?
    b. How can existing programs be changed and made to work more 
efficiently and effectively?
    c. How can the programs be changed to eliminate any unnecessary 
burdens on students, institutions, or the Federal government, yet 
maintain accountability of taxpayer funds?
    d. Are there other ideas or initiatives that should be considered 
during reauthorization that would improve the framework in which the 
Federal government promotes access to postsecondary education and 
ensures accountability of taxpayer funds?

Regional Meetings

    Participants are welcome to address these and other issues relating 
to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, either by attending 
the regional meetings or submitting written comments. Individuals who 
wish to testify at any of the regional hearings are encouraged to do 
so. Time allotted for each individual to testify will be limited and 
will depend on the number of speakers wishing to testify at each 
session. It is likely that each participant choosing to testify will be 
limited to three minutes or less.
    The dates and location of the six regional meetings appear below. 
The Department of Education has reserved a limited number of rooms at 
each of the following hotels at a special government per diem room 
rate. To reserve these rates, be certain to inform the hotel that you 
are attending the reauthorization hearings with the Department of 
Education. The meetings are open to the public, and the meeting rooms 
and proceedings will be accessible for individuals with disabilities. 
When making reservations, individuals must indicate the need for any 
special accommodations.

Dates, Time and Location of Regional Meetings

    December 6, 1996, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Atlanta Hilton & Towers,
Atlanta, Georgia; 1-404-659-2000 and ask for reservations.
    December 9, 1996, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Holiday Inn Select, Phoenix, 
Arizona; 1-602-273-7778 and ask for reservations.
    December 10, 1996, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Park Plaza Hotel, San 
Francisco, California 1-800-411-7275 and ask for reservations.
    December 12, 1996, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Hotel Sofitel, Chicago, 
Illinois 1-800-233-5959 and ask for reservations.
    December 13, 1996, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Back Bay Hilton Hotel, 
Boston, Massachusetts. 1-800-874-0663 and ask for reservations.
    December 17, 1996, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Washington Hilton Hotel, 
Washington, District of Columbia 1-202-797-5820 & ask for reservations.

Invitation to Comment

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments and 
recommendations regarding the reauthorization of the Higher Education 
Act. Comments will be available for public inspection, during and after 
the comment period in room 4050, Regional Office Building 3, 7th and D 
Streets SW, Washington, D.C., between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 
p.m., Monday through Friday of each week except Federal Holidays.

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    Dated: November 14, 1996.
David A. Longanecker,
Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education.
[FR Doc. 96-29549 Filed 11-18-96; 8:45 am]