[Federal Register: December 20, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 245)]
[Page 77967-77969]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act; Notice of Request to 
Obtain Public Comments Related to the Reauthorization of the Higher 
Education Act

SUMMARY: The Secretary of Education (Secretary) is soliciting comments 
and recommendations from interested parties on proposals for amending 
and extending the Higher Education Act (HEA). To facilitate the receipt 
of these comments, the Department has established a web site from which 
users can transmit their comments, suggestions and ideas to the 

DATES: We request your comments on or before February 28, 2003. If 
possible, we will consider comments received after that date.

ADDRESSES: Comments concerning the reauthorization of the HEA should be 
transmitted via the Internet: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OPE/reauthorization.
 The Secretary encourages interested persons to take 
advantage of this user-friendly web interface. Interested persons 
wishing to submit comments by mail may address them to Jeffrey R. 
Andrade, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Planning and 
Innovation, Office of Postsecondary Education, 1990 K Street, NW., Room 
8046, Washington, DC 20006 ATTENTION: HEA Reauthorization.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: To obtain additional information about 
the Department's reauthorization web interface please call Daniel 
Pollard or Jean-Didier Gaina at (202) 502-7575.
    If you use a telecommunication 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 person listed under ADDRESSES.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: As we begin to consider proposals to 
reauthorize the HEA, we look to ensure that the significant amounts of 
funding for the programs authorized in the HEA are wisely spent. We 
also look to build upon successful program results in providing access 
to students and improving the quality of postsecondary education.


    Since the last reauthorization of the HEA in 1998, funding for the 
programs authorized under the HEA has increased significantly. Notably, 
the amount of Federal student aid available has been increased by $23 
billion between 1998 and 2002. The fiscal year 2002 appropriations bill 
signed by President Bush on January 10, 2002, increased the Federal 
student aid available to students through the grant, loan, and work-
study programs authorized by the HEA to a record $69 billion for an 
estimated 8.1 million students. The President's fiscal year 2003 budget 
request would provide Federal student aid to an additional 340,000 
    Many of these increases have been directed to those HEA programs 
that serve the neediest students. For example, the Pell Grant maximum 
was increased from $3,000 in 1998 to $4,000 in 2002, and funding for 
the Pell Grant program has increased from $7.3 billion in 1998 to $10.3 
billion in 2002. The amount appropriated for the Work-Study program 
increased 22 percent from 1998 to 2002 to more than $1 billion.
    The period since the last reauthorization of the HEA has been a 
period of constant change and rapid growth for the Federal student loan 
programs. Education loans have become a valuable source of 
postsecondary student aid for many students and parents. The total 
amount borrowed annually, including consolidation loans, under the two 
major Federal loan programs, the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) 
Program-formerly the Guaranteed Student Loan (GSL) Program--and the 
William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program, has 
increased more than 50 percent, from $36 billion in fiscal year 1998 to 
an estimated $55 billion in fiscal year 2002.
    Funding has also increased significantly for programs that aim to 
expand access and encourage first-generation, low-income, college 
students to attend and complete college. In fiscal year 2002, the 
Federal TRIO programs were funded at $803 million, an increase of 52 
percent from 1998. These programs serve more than 850,000 at-risk 
students by providing outreach and support services, as well as 
information about postsecondary opportunities. Gaining Early Awareness 
and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) has grown 
significantly since its inception in 1998 and in fiscal year 2002 was 
funded at $285 million and serves 1.2 million students. Taken together, 
these programs represent more than $1 billion each year in annual 
funding and provide services to 2.1 million students from low-income 
families to help them enter and complete postsecondary education.
    Funding for programs authorized by Title III of the HEA that 
strengthen the quality of institutions that serve large numbers of 
disadvantaged and minority students has also been increased since 1998. 
Specifically, funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities 
(HBCUs) and Historically Black Graduate Institutions (HBGIs) has 
increased by 74 percent and 96 percent, respectively. Funding has also 
been increased for the Strengthening Institutions program to improve 
the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of 
a wide range of postsecondary institutions that serve large numbers of 
financially needy students by 33 percent.
    Funding for the Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs) program 
authorized by Title V of the HEA has increased by $75 million--a six-
fold increase. This program provides significant support to expand and 
enhance the academic quality, institutional management, fiscal 
stability, and self-sufficiency of the colleges and universities that 
enroll large percentages of Hispanic students.
    The emerging importance of American higher education in the

[[Page 77968]]

international arena has also been reflected in the amount of funding 
for programs in this area. Appropriations for international education 
and foreign language studies have increased 63 percent from 1998 to 
    Many of the programs authorized under the HEA work well and provide 
a strong foundation of support for higher education. Some need to be 
made more effective in achieving better results. As part of 
reauthorization, we will consider how to make the HEA programs work 
better and complement the President's efforts to ensure that all 
Federal programs focus on stronger accountability for results.

Goals and Objectives for HEA Reauthorization

    The Department's goal is to develop proposals that will best use 
the significant levels of funding for the HEA programs, build upon the 
successful results in those programs, improve the quality of and access 
to postsecondary education, promote greater emphasis on achieving 
results, improve student achievement, and ensure accountability for 
taxpayer funds.
    The Secretary has already established several goals and objectives 
in the Department's strategic plan that relate directly to the programs 
authorized under the HEA:

Enhance the Quality of and Access to Postsecondary and Adult Education

    [sbull] Reduce the gaps in college access and completion among 
student populations differing by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, 
and disability while increasing the educational attainment of all.
    [sbull] Enhance efforts to prepare low-income and minority youth 
for college.
    [sbull] Increase public communication about postsecondary options.
    [sbull] Improve student support services.
    [sbull] Highlight effective strategies for nontraditional students.
    [sbull] Provide support to students with disabilities.

Strengthen Accountability of Postsecondary Institutions

    [sbull] Refine the teacher quality accountability system mandated 
by Title II of the HEA.
    [sbull] Create a reporting system on retention and completion that 
is useful for State accountability systems.

Establish Effective Funding Mechanisms for Postsecondary Education

    [sbull] Investigate postsecondary funding strategies.
    [sbull] Improve the efficiency of the Federal student aid process.

Strengthen HBCUs, HSIs, and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs)

    [sbull] Offer technical assistance for planning, implementation, 
and evaluation.
    [sbull] Assist in promoting the technology infrastructure of 
institutions serving low-income and minority students.
    [sbull] Collaborate with HBCUs, HSIs, and TCUs on K-12 improvement 

Develop and Maintain Financial Integrity and Management and Internal 

    [sbull] Increase the use of performance-based contracting.

Manage Information Technology Resources Using Electronic Communication 
and Record Storage, to Improve Services for our Customers and Partners

    [sbull] Encourage customers to conduct business with the Department 

Modernize the Federal Student Aid Programs and Reduce Their High-Risk 

    [sbull] Create a more efficient Federal student aid delivery 
    [sbull] Improve program monitoring.

Achieve Budget and Performance Integration to Link Funding Decisions to 

    [sbull] Document program effectiveness.
    In addition, the Department also plans to apply its Department-wide 
objectives to programs authorized under the HEA:

Link Federal Education Funding to Accountability for Results

    [sbull] Create performance-based grants.

Increase Flexibility and Local Control

    [sbull] Increase flexibility for grantees and recipients within 
Federal Programs

Increase Information and Options for Parents

    [sbull] Expand choice in Federal programs.

Encourage the Use of Scientifically Based Methods Within Federal 
Education Programs

    [sbull] Revise grant applications to reflect scientifically based 
    [sbull] Work with the Congress to embed scientifically based 
research in all Federal programs.

Improve the Performance of All High School Students

    [sbull] Increase learning options for students.

Improve Teacher and Principal Quality

    [sbull] Reduce barriers to teaching for highly qualified 
    [sbull] Improve the quality of teacher preparation programs.

Leverage the Contributions of Community- and Faith-Based Organizations 
To Increase the Effectiveness of Department Programs

    [sbull] Provide technical assistance and outreach.
    [sbull] Remove regulatory barriers to the full participation of 
faith-based organizations.
    [sbull] Implement novice applicant procedures.
    [sbull] Eliminate statutory barriers to full participation of 
faith-based organizations.

Questions for Public Comment

    We are seeking comments and recommendations on the issues and ideas 
presented here, as well as the following questions, as we begin to 
consider proposals for the reauthorization of the HEA.
    a. How can we improve access and promote additional educational 
opportunity for all students, especially students with disabilities, 
within the framework of the HEA? How can the Federal Government 
encourage greater persistence and completion of students enrolled in 
postsecondary education?
    b. How can existing HEA programs be changed and made to work more 
efficiently and effectively? In what ways do they need to be adapted or 
modified to respond to changes in postsecondary education that have 
occurred since 1998?
    c. How can the HEA programs be changed to eliminate any unnecessary 
burdens on students, institutions, or the Federal Government, yet 
maintain accountability of Federal funds? How can program requirements 
be simplified, particularly for students?
    d. How can we best prioritize the use of funds provided for 
postsecondary education and the benefits provided under the HEA 
programs? How can the significant levels of Federal funding already 
provided for the HEA programs best help to further the goals of 
improving educational quality, expanding access, and ensuring 
    e. Are there innovative and creative ways the Federal Government 
can integrate tax credits, deductions, and tax-free savings incentives 
with the Federal student aid programs in the HEA to improve access to 
and choice in postsecondary education?
    f. What results should be measured in each HEA program to determine 
the effectiveness of that program?
    g. Are there other ideas or initiatives that should be considered 

[[Page 77969]]

reauthorization that would improve the framework in which the Federal 
Government promotes access to postsecondary education and ensures 
accountability of taxpayer funds?

Invitation To Comment

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments and 
recommendations regarding the reauthorization of the Higher Education 
Act. All comments submitted in response to this notice will be 
available for public inspection, during and after the comment period at 
1990 K Street, NW., 8th floor, Washington, DC, between the hours of 9 
a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday of each week except Federal 

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 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 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

    Dated: December 16, 2002.
Sally L. Stroup,
Assistant Secretary, Office of Postsecondary Education.
[FR Doc. 02-32089 Filed 12-19-02; 8:45 am]