Policy & Advocacy

2023 U.S. Department of Education Negotiated Rulemaking

Open Education

The U.S. Department of Education announced its intention to undertake a negotiated rulemaking to prepare proposed regulations for the Federal Student Aid programs authorized under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).

The Department requested public feedback on topics it should consider in developing proposed regulations including:

  • The Federal TRIO programs, including improvements to programmatic eligibility and operations under 34 CFR parts 642 through 647;
  • The Secretary’s recognition of accrediting agencies in 34 CFR part 602 and related parts;
  • Institutional eligibility under 34 CFR 600.2, including State authorization as a component of such eligibility under 34 CFR 600.9;
  • Return of title IV funds, to address requirements for participating institutions to return unearned title IV funds in a manner that protects students and taxpayers while easing administrative burden for institutions of higher education under 34 CFR 668.22;
  • Cash management, to address timely student access to disbursements of title IV, HEA Federal student financial assistance and provisions related to credit balances, escheatment, or loss of such funds under 34 CFR part 668, subpart K;
  • Third-party servicers and related issues, such as reporting, financial responsibility, compliance, and past performance requirements as a component of institutional eligibility for participation in the title IV, HEA Federal student financial assistance programs under 34 CFR 668.25 and 682.416; and
  • The definition of “distance education” under 34 CFR 600.2 as it pertains to clock hour programs and reporting for students who enroll primarily online.

SPARC submitted comments requesting that the Department revisit the provisions under the Cash Management Regulation related to the cost of books and supplies, arguing a change to this provision in 2016 opened the door for the textbook publishing model known as “Inclusive Access,” which automatically bills the cost of digital course content to students’ tuition and fees.

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