Student Loan Negotiated Rulemaking Committee Proposes Adding More Than 20 Issues to Agenda
The student loan negotiated rulemaking committee kicked-off yesterday with agreement on the protocols, including clarification of the U.S. Department of Education’s consensus rules, and negotiators proposing more than 20 additional topics to be debated in addition to the proposed list of 22 topics.
At the beginning of the meeting, the committee takes into consideration any additional regulatory issues submitted by negotiators and determines whether or not to add them to the rulemaking process. Additional topics raised by the nonfederal negotiators would nearly double the preliminary list of 22 topics suggested by the Department of Education (ED). The Department of Education adjourned the public meeting and convened in private to decide whether to support the inclusion of the proposals. The committee as a whole must then agree, without any dissent, on each proposed topic before it can be added to the agenda. A final list of rulemaking topics is expected to be released either today or tomorrow.
The negotiating committee’s goal is to develop proposed regulations (published for public comment as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, or NPRM) that reflect a final consensus of the committee. Consensus means that there is no dissent by any member of the negotiating committee on any of the issues addressed. Disagreement on any one issue prevents consensus on the entire package. If that occurs, the Department has the authority to propose regulatory language as it sees fit on all the issues, though historically the Department honors tentative agreements that were reached on individual issues.
If the committee reaches a final consensus on all issues, the Department will use this consensus-based language in its proposed regulations, and committee members and the organizations whom they represent will refrain from commenting negatively on the consensus-based regulatory language. Because some negotiators were nominated by organizations or groups, such as NASFAA, there was some confusion about whether other members of that organization or group are bound by the consensus and thereby prohibited from commenting negatively on the resulting proposed regulations.
A Department lawyer clarified the rule, stating that in the case of an organization like NASFAA, where membership is voluntary, members are allowed to comment negatively on the proposed regulations even if consensus was reached, so long as they are not negotiators in the rulemaking process.
Members of the financial aid community serving as negotiators and alternates on the committee include:
- Yvonne Gutierrez-Sandoval, Senior Associate Director of Financial Aid at Pitzer College, primary representing private nonprofit institutions
- Jeffrey Gall, Associate Dean and Director of University Student Loan Services and Technology Georgetown University, alternate representing private nonprofit institutions
- Margaret Rodriguez, Senior Associate Director of Financial Aid at University of Michigan, Chair of the National Direct Student Loan Coalition, primary representing financial aid administrators
- Elizabeth Hicks, Executive Director Student Financial Services at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, alternate representing financial aid administrators
- Cristi Millard, Director of Financial Aid at Salt Lake Community College, primary representing two-year public institutions
- Chris Christensen, Director of Financial Aid at Johnson County Community College, Kansas, alternate representing two-year public institutions
- Kris Wright, Director, Office of Student Finance at University of Minnesota, Executive Council Member and Secretary of the National Direct Student Loan Coalition, primary representing four-year public institutions
- Elaine Papas-Varas, University Director of Student Financial Aid and Director of the Primary Care Practitioner Loan Redemption Program of New Jersey University of Medicine and Dentistry, alternate representing four-year public institutions
- Tom Sakos, Director of Student Lending and Regulatory Quality Assurance at DeVry Inc, primary representing for-profit institutions
- Anthony Fragomeni, Director of Governmental Affairs, Empire Education Group and Chairman, American Association of Cosmetology Schools’ Government Relations Team
This week marks the first of three week-long meetings the Department will hold to negotiate with representatives of: financial aid and business offices from higher education institutions (including several NASFAA members); lenders, secondary markets, and loan servicers; third-party servicers; accrediting agencies; state attorneys general; and students, legal assistance organizations, and consumer advocacy groups. The negotiated rulemaking process will address a host of student loan topics including income-based and income-contingent repayment (IBR, ICR), forbearance, loan discharge and more.