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Shoptalk Online Contents

Federal Updates


Shoptalk Online 429, October 30, 2007
 

Federal Updates

Reauthorization outlook: Concentrate and ask again

Lately it seems that figuring out if reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) will ever occur is about as reliable as asking the question of your Magic 8-Ball® — the answers you get could range from "It is decidedly so" to "Better not tell you now" or even "Don't count on it."

Whatever your method of forecasting the actions of Congress, if you've been keeping track of HEA extensions, it's time to add another entry to your tally sheet. With the current extension set to expire on October 31, the House has just approved the eighth extension in this reauthorization cycle (not counting the automatic one-year extension provided for in the General Education Provisions Act). HR 3927, the Third Higher Education Act Extension of 2007, provides for a "clean" extension and would extend the HEA through April 30, 2008. It has been sent to the Senate for approval.

Has Congress made any progress?
Reauthorization is on the congressional radar — the Senate has developed and approved its version of a reauthorization bill (S 1642), as have House Republicans (HR 3746) — but progress has stalled as House Democrats focus on completing reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. Once House Democrats turn their attention to the HEA and develop their version of a reauthorization bill, the conference committee process will begin as all parties attempt to reach a position of agreement, or at least compromise, on final language.

For more information
To access the text of HR 3927, go to Thomas, the U.S. Congress website, at http://thomas.loc.gov/. In the space for "Search Bill Text," enter "HR 3927," click on "Bill Number," and click "Search."

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ED releases final rules for ACG and National SMART Grant programs

On October 29, ED published final rules for the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant) programs in the Federal Register. The rules, which do not differ significantly from the proposed rules published on August 7, are available online at http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20071800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2007/pdf/E7-21068.pdf.

Implementation
The regulations are effective July 1, 2008; however, ED states that schools "may, at their discretion, choose to implement these final regulations in their entirety, or by section, on or after November 1, 2007."

More information
If you have questions about the final rules, please contact TG customer assistance at (800) 845-6267, or send an message to cust.assist@tgslc.org.

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Disaster guidance reminder

TG wishes to express its heartfelt sympathy to those who have been affected by the recent wildfires in Southern California. The fires have brought devastation to untold thousands, including many of TG's business associates, customers, and borrowers. In the wake of this tragedy, we would like to remind our readers of guidance from ED regarding certain special provisions for affected individuals, as well as schools, lenders, and guaranty agencies, whenever a disaster is declared by the president.

Regulatory relief
Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) GEN-04-04 details these provisions, and notes that, "Unless stated otherwise, this regulatory relief applies to all Title IV loan borrowers, students, and their families who, at the time of a disaster, were residing in, employed in, or attending an institution located in an area designated as a Federally-declared disaster area. In addition, it applies to institutions, lenders, and guaranty agencies if they are located in such areas." It also states that a Title IV participant must document the fact that it has used the exceptions included in this guidance and indicate what alternative procedures were followed.

The DCL provides specific exceptions for FFELP-related issues including repayment, forbearance, guarantor and lender disbursements, and NSLDS reporting. It also addresses agreements to permit study at another institution, length of academic year, cash management issues, lost student records, need analysis, professional judgment, satisfactory academic progress, verification, institutional charges and refunds, R2T4, and campus-based aid provisions.

TG will work with our affected borrowers in providing repayment relief, determined on a case-by-case basis or as specified in any forthcoming guidance. We are also committed to assisting our customers and business associates as they respond to this tragedy.

More information
A list of the counties that have been declared disaster areas is available on the FEMA website at www.fema.gov/news/disasters.fema. To read the full text of DCL GEN-04-04, go to the IFAP website at http://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN0404.html. If you have any questions, please contact TG customer assistance at (800) 845-6267, or send an message to cust.assist@tgslc.org.

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