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Notice

Notice of Proposed Information Collection Requests

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Department of Education.

SUMMARY:

The Secretary of Education requests comments on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that the Secretary proposes to use for the 2009-2010 award year. The FAFSA is completed by students and their families and the information submitted on the form is used to determine the students' eligibility and financial need for financial aid under the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (Title IV, HEA Programs).

The Department acknowledges the recent passage of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 and its instruction to the Department to simplify the Federal Student Aid application process, to reduce the number of questions on the FAFSA form, to create a FAFSA-EZ form, and to revise the form so that it contains consumer friendly language as well as take other measures to streamline the process of applying for federal student aid. The Department is committed to improving the federal student aid application process for individuals completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We were challenged to incorporate each of the changes required to satisfy the intent of Congress in implementing the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) and the recently passed post 9/11 legislative changes while not losing focus on our customers' need for a simple, straightforward application.

Because 99 percent of student applicants opt to apply electronically, much of the Department's recent improvements have focused on the FAFSA suite of products. The most heavily used application, FAFSA on the Web, maximizes the use of `skip logic' and previously submitted FAFSA data, to dramatically reduce the time-to-complete benchmark for returning customers. New customers have the benefit of answering specific questions up front that determine if, for example, the student needs to provide additional asset or parental information. Students that are eligible to skip asset and/or parental questions complete a shorter, more streamlined FAFSA. During 2007-2008, the Department launched the use of a `real-time' PIN that enables every applicant to electronically sign their FAFSAs during their on-line session; eliminating the time consuming process of separately requesting, and waiting for the delivery of, a PIN. For the one percent of FAFSA applicants that complete the paper FAFSA, the Department has simplified the application process by grouping like questions together, incorporating previously supplemental worksheets into the application; improving the layout of the form; and clearly delineating between student and parental questions. For those students that prefer to submit a paper FAFSA but don't have access to a pre-printed FAFSA form, the Department has created a FAFSA PDF that can be downloaded from the Internet and completed, either on a PC or by hand, and mailed to the Department. In addition, the Department has created numerous on-line and paper sources to assist students with the FAFSA process. The Web site Student Aid on the Web (http://www.studentaid.ed.gov) provides a vast array of student-centric information on researching colleges, finding scholarships, preparing academically, and applying for federal student assistance. The FAFSA4caster Web site (http://www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov) enables students to obtain an early estimate of their eligibility for federal student aid while increasing their knowledge of the financial aid process. FAFSA4caster users that opt to provide demographic information about themselves can later `pre-populate' a FAFSA, thereby shortening the application completion time. Working with customers, stakeholders, partners and Congress, the Department will continue its commitment to further streamline the experience for FAFSA applicants into the future.

DATES:

Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before October 27, 2008.

ADDRESSES:

Comments may be submitted electronically through e-mail to FAFSA. Comments@ed.gov. Interested persons can access this document on the Internet:

(1) Go to IFAP at http://ifap.ed.gov.

(2) Scroll down to “Publications”.

(3) Click on “FAFSAs and Renewal FAFSAs”.

(4) Click on “By 2009-2010 Award Year”.

(5) Click on “Draft FAFSA Form/Instructions”.

Please note that the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software, version 4.0 or greater, is necessary to view this file. This software can be downloaded for free from Adobe's Web site: http://www.adobe.com.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The Secretary is publishing this request for comment under the Provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. Under that Act, ED must obtain the review and approval of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before it may use a form to collect information. However, under procedure for obtaining approval from OMB, ED must first obtain public comment on the proposed form, and to obtain that comment, ED must publish this notice in the Federal Register. In addition to comments requested above, to accommodate the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Secretary is interested in receiving comments with regard to the following matters: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department, (2) will Start Printed Page 50786this information be processed and used in a timely manner, (3) is the estimate of burden accurate, (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected, and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology.

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Dated: August 22, 2008.

Angela C. Arrington,

IC Clearance Official, Regulatory Information Management Services, Office of Management.

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Office of Postsecondary Education

Type of Review: Revision.

Title: Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Frequency: Annually.

Affected Public: Individuals.

Annual Reporting and Recordkeeping Hour Burden:

Responses: 17,123,392. Burden Hours: 8,341,867.

Abstract: Section 483 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), requires the Secretary, “in cooperation with agencies and organizations involved in providing student financial assistance,” to “produce, distribute and process free of charge a common financial reporting form to be used to determine the need and eligibility of a student for financial assistance * * *” under the Title IV, HEA programs. This form is the FAFSA. In addition, Section 483 authorizes the Secretary to include non-financial data items that assist States in awarding State student financial assistance.

Requests for copies of the proposed information collection request may be accessed from http://edicsweb.ed.gov, by selecting the “Browse Pending Collections” link and clicking on link number 3804. Written requests for information should be addressed to U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20202-4537. Requests may also be electronically mailed to ICDocketMgr@ed.gov or faxed to (202) 401-0920. Please specify the complete title of the information collection when making your request.

Comments regarding burden and/or the collection activity requirements should be directed to the e-mail address ICDocketMgr@ed.gov. 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.

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[FR Doc. E8-19918 Filed 8-27-08; 8:45 am]

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