NAICU Washington Update

Proposed Rules on Faith-Based Institutions and TEACH Grants Published

December 13, 2019

The Department of Education has published proposed rules that would both facilitate faith-based institutions’ access to the Title IV programs and revise the TEACH Grant Program. Public comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) are due on January 10, 2020, and can be submitted electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
The NPRM is the result of months of negotiated rulemaking in which a broad array of higher education stakeholders debated a massive package of Title IV regulatory changes sought by the Department.  Because negotiators reached consensus, the Department is now bound to publish proposed rules that are based on the agreed-upon regulatory language.
Faith-Based Institutions
The NPRM would amend current regulations in order to improve faith-based institutions’ access to the Title IV programs. Specifically, the NPRM would:
  • Facilitate the ability of members of religious orders to participate in the Title IV programs;
  • Permit certain borrowers who volunteer full-time in specified religious activities to defer repayment under certain Title IV programs and to qualify for public service loan forgiveness; and
  • Clarify requirements for participation in the GEAR UP program. 

TEACH Grants
The NPRM would also make significant changes to the regulations governing the TEACH Grant Program by clarifying requirements to ensure that students understand their service obligations, and providing a regulatory fix for current and future TEACH grant recipients who have experienced inadvertent grant-to-loan conversions. Specifically, the NPRM would:
  • Simplify program requirements to make it easier for TEACH Grant recipients to document their progress towards their service obligation;
  • Establish an appeals process for recipients who believe their grant was inadvertently converted to a loan;
  • Expand and strengthen counseling requirements for recipients; and
  • Expand the conditions for temporary suspension of the service obligation period.
This NPRM is the second of three sets of rules that are expected to emerge from negotiated rulemaking. The first set of regulations on accreditation and state authorization were finalized in November and will become effective on July 1, 2020. The third and final set of rules is expected to contain changes affecting distance education and other Title IV requirements.
Because NAICU participated in the negotiated rulemaking process, and, in keeping with negotiator protocols, NAICU does not intend to submit comments on the NPRM but is broadly supportive of the proposals.

Faith-based NPRM: Jody Feder
TEACH Grants NPRM: Stephanie Giesecke

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