Editor’s Note: This article is the fourth in a series that delves into Title IV-related issues contained in the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act released by House Republicans on Dec. 1, 2017. These articles follow up on a brief overview of the bill provided in Today's News on December 4.
The PROSPER Act would replace the College Navigator with a similar tool called the College Dashboard. Like the College Navigator, the Dashboard would also present institutional information that can be compared, but there are many changes to the specific information that is presented. The Dashboard must be consumer-tested and the bill specifically removes the Department of Education's (ED) authority to issue associated regulations.
Specific changes that would be in the Dashboard include:
The bill retains the net price calculator generally in its current form, and adds more specific requirements, including:
Results of the net price calculator must include the following:
The bill would utilize the new College Dashboard as a vehicle for schools to provide annual consumer information disclosures to enrolled and prospective students. Information on the following items would be removed from required annual disclosures, and replaced with a link to the Dashboard (which would contain most, but not all, of the same information):
The bill would require that annual consumer information be made readily available on the institution's web site or in other formats upon request. It is unclear if the annual notification to students would still be required.
Other consumer information requirements that are unrelated to financial aid would also see changes under the PROSPER Act. These changes include:
The PROSPER Act would significantly expand counseling requirements by implementing annual counseling for all recipients of Federal Pell Grants and federal loans, including parent loans. ED would be required to provide an online counseling tool that would meet the requirement, or the institution may choose to conduct counseling itself, either in person or online, with the individual acknowledging receipt of the information. Schools would be required to annual affirm to ED that students are receiving the annual counseling.
Information conveyed in annual counseling for both Pell Grant and loan recipients would include:
Information conveyed in annual counseling for Pell Grant recipients would include explanations of the:
Information conveyed in annual counseling for loan borrowers except parent borrowers would include explanations of the:
Parent borrowers must also complete annual counseling, which includes much of the same information that is provided to student borrowers.
In conjunction with the required annual counseling, the borrower must accept the loan by signing the Master Promissory Note (MPN), or by signing a separate written statement to accept the loan. The written statement may be signed electronically.
In addition, borrowers would be required to acknowledge in writing that they have read a Plain Language Disclosure Form before receiving a new federal loan. Currently, ED sends a fairly complicated and dense six-page Plain Language Disclosure Form to borrowers when each new loan is made under an existing MPN. It is not clear whether ED could continue to send the proposed form to the borrower, or if the institution would be required to generate a personalized form, collect the student's signature, and maintain a record of the signed forms for each new loan.
During exit counseling, new information that must be provided under the PROSPER Act includes:
Institutions would be allowed to provide additional information or counseling beyond these requirements.
In the area of student eligibility, the PROSPER Act adds statutory language that establishes loan eligibility for students enrolled in competency-based education for coursework attributable only to two academic years within the award year.
Related to satisfactory academic progress, the PROSPER Act would incorporate the current regulatory definition of maximum time frame into the statute. It would also require that eligible students have a cumulative C average or its equivalent, or academic standing consistent with the requirements for graduation, at the end of each academic year. Current statute requires the C average at the end of the second academic year only.
For students without a high school diploma or equivalent, current ability to benefit provisions restrict student aid eligibility to students enrolled in eligible career pathways programs. The PROSPER Act would eliminate the career pathways enrollment component and would grant aid eligibility to any otherwise eligible student upon satisfactory completion of six credit hours or the equivalent that are applicable toward a degree or certificate.
Students who completed secondary education provided by a school operating as a nonprofit corporation are Title IV-eligible if the secondary education is acceptable for admission by the postsecondary institution.
Although Selective Service registration would still be required under the PROSPER Act, a student who was required to register but did not, and is 26 years old or older, would no longer be deemed ineligible for Title IV assistance solely for that reason. This would eliminate the need for financial aid administrators to determine if a student willingly and knowingly failed to register in order to determine the student's Title IV eligibility.
Publication Date: 12/20/2017