Department of Education.
Notice inviting letters of application for participation in the Quality Assurance Program.
The Secretary of Education invites institutions of higher education that may wish to participate in the Quality Assurance Program, under section 487A(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), to submit a letter of application to participate in the program.
Letters of application may be submitted any time after October 23, 2001.
Institutions wishing to apply to participate in the Quality Assurance Program may do so by mailing a letter of application to Barbara Mroz, 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: Barbara.Mroz@ed.govStart Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Sharyn Hutson, U.S. Department of Education, 830 First Street, NE., Washington, DC 20202-5232, telephone: (202) 377-4379, or via internet: Sharyn.Hutson@ed.gov
If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), you may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-888-877-8339.
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 INFORMATION CONTACT.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
Institutions of higher education are invited to join the Department in an effort to simplify regulations and administrative processes for the Federal Student Financial Assistance (SFA) Programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). The vision of the Quality Assurance Program, with 143 institutions currently participating, is to provide tools that help all Title IV institutions promote better service to students, compliance, and continuous improvement in program delivery. The program encourages participating institutions to develop and implement their own comprehensive systems to verify student financial aid application data.
The Department continues to support the expansion of the Quality Assurance Program. The Secretary is authorized to provide participating institutions with regulatory flexibility for the verification of student data, and to encourage alternative management approaches in the areas of institutional processing and disbursement of Title IV funds, and entrance and exit counseling.
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. By expanding the Quality Assurance Program to include other management areas, the Secretary believes it can serve more institutions and promote further improvements.
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 16 years, the program has done that 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 items.
The Secretary encourages institutions participating in the Quality Assurance Program to evaluate their 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 Quality Analysis Tool. The Quality Analysis Tool is an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) analysis software product that provides Financial Aid Administrators with an in-depth analysis of their applicant population. It allows them to see not only which FAFSA elements changed when verified, but also what impact these changes have upon the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This analysis helps Financial Aid Administrators develop a targeted institutional verification program, which makes the financial aid process easier for students.
The Quality Assurance Program also helps institutions make improvements beyond verification. It helps them set goals for continuous improvement in all areas of financial aid delivery, rather than be satisfied just to achieve basic compliance. It is a management tool that works well at all types of institutions, Start Printed Page 53592including 2- and 4-year public, private, and proprietary. One key benefit of the program: institutions have reported better service to students as a primary outcome of their participation in the Quality Assurance Program. The program is a partnership between the Department and the participating institutions. Both parties become engaged in promoting continuous improvement in the administration and delivery of the student financial assistance 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. The letter of application should address 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 programs;
- Increase institutional flexibility in managing student aid funds, while maintaining accountability for the proper use of those funds;
- Encourage the development of innovative management approaches that advance quality.
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 Student Financial Aid Handbook: Institutional Eligibility and Participation section. The Secretary anticipates that the review of applications will begin within 45 days of the date of this notice. However, applications that are received later will also be considered.
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: www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister.
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.
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.Start Signature
Dated: October 17, 2001.
Chief Operating Officer, Student Financial Assistance.
[FR Doc. 01-26648 Filed 10-22-01; 8:45 am]
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