U.S. Department of Education Proposes Massive Rewrite of Title IV Regulations

Later this month the Department of Education will embark on the first steps towards a massive rewrite of programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The Department is seeking input on a wide range of federal higher education topics, as identified in the notice, as well as input on how the Department could address gaps in postsecondary outcomes such as retention, completion, loan repayment, and student loan default by race, ethnicity, gender, and other key student characteristics.

On May 24, 2021, the Department announced the proposed negotiated rulemaking to make regulatory changes for the programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The notice was published in the Federal Register on May 26, 2021.

The Department identified the following topics for review:
• Change of ownership and change in control of institutions under 34 C.F.R. § 600.31;
• Certification procedures for participation in title IV under 34 C.F.R. § 668.13;
• Standards of administrative capability under 34 C.F.R. § 668.16;
• Ability to benefit under 34 C.F.R. § 668.156;
• Borrower defense to repayment under 34 C.F.R. §§ 682.410, 682.411, 685.206, and 685.222;
• Discharges for borrowers with a total and permanent disability under 34 C.F.R. §§ 674.61, 682.402, and 685.213;
• Closed school discharges under 34 C.F.R. §§ 685.214 and 682.402;
• Discharges for false certification of student eligibility under 34 C.F.R. §§ 685.215(a)(1) and 682.402;
• Loan repayment plans under 34 C.F.R. §§ 682.209, 682.215, 685.208, and 685.209;
• The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program under 34 C.F.R. § 685.219;
• Mandatory pre-dispute arbitration and prohibition of class action lawsuits provisions in institutions’ enrollment agreements (formerly under 34 C.F.R. § 685.300) and associated counseling about such arrangements under 34 C.F.R. § 685.304;
• Financial responsibility for participating institutions of higher education under 34 C.F.R. § Subpart L, such as events that indicate heightened financial risk;
• Gainful employment (formerly located in 34 C.F.R. Subpart Q); and
• Pell Grant eligibility for prison education programs under 34 C.F.R. Part 690.

Pursuant to Section 492 of the HEA and the negotiated rulemaking procedures, the Department is inviting public comment at three virtual hearings scheduled for June 21, 23, and 24. Registration is required to attend each session.

June 21, 2021, 10 am to noon / 2 pm to 4 pm – REGISTER FOR JUNE 21 
June 23, 2021, 10 am to noon / 2 pm to 4 pm – REGISTER FOR JUNE 23 
June 24, 2021, 10 am to noon / 2 pm to 4 pm – REGISTER FOR JUNE 24

Individuals or groups interested in presenting at the public hearings must register by sending an email message to negreghearing@ed.gov. The message should include the name of the speaker, the email address of the speaker, the general topic(s) the individual would like to address, and one or more dates and times during which the individual would be available to speak. Speaking times are limited and will be allocated on a first come- first served basis. Each participant will be limited to five minutes.

Individuals and groups are also invited to submit written comments. The comment period is open through July 1, 2021. Comments may be submitted through the regulations.gov portal.

The hearings and comment period offer individuals and groups the first opportunity to provide comment on the proposed rulemaking. Following review of the public record, the Department will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the specific topics for which they will establish negotiated rulemaking committees and a request for nominations for individual negotiators for the committees who represent the communities of interest that would be significantly affected by the proposed regulations.

We recommend that all interested and affected parties consider participating in the public hearings or submitting a written comment.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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