ED Publishes Resource Page for Upcoming Neg Reg

The Department of Education (ED) recently published a resource page detailing its upcoming negotiated rulemaking hearings for the week of October 4. The public will have the opportunity to register for a given virtual session, access related documents and obtain additional information concerning the negotiated rulemaking process for the weeks ahead. Stay tuned to Today’s News for coverage of the upcoming sessions and be sure to catch up on our Negotiated Rulemaking coverage.


Publication Date: 10/1/2021

Peter G | 10/1/2021 2:19:53 PM

After reading through the 'False Certification Discharge' I have some significant concerns. I hadn't seen any of these my first 8 years as a director, but have seen 8-10 since COVID hit, and it feels like some advocacy groups are steering students to this option as a catchall/Hail Mary approach.

Trying to be brief:
1) The regs should require ED / Servicers to inform schools of the specific issue being contested and provide the claim materials to the school, in the same way it's proposing to give students direct access to the material provided by the college. They already have a right to info under FERPA, but data extracted to a servicer may be missing key pieces or context, esp. if we've not been informed what specifically we're responding to which is often the case with these.
2) There's no clear standard of proof given. I think everyone agrees that a school responding to a student's statement that they don't have a diploma with "Well, sign this anyway" is problematic. But what if the response is "Unfortunately you would need to certify you have a diploma or GED"? What the student hears ("just sign the form") may be different than what's expressed (I'm informing you of your rights/options). How is that going to be documented, much less adjudicated? Do we cease informing students of their legal options and require them to just figure it out entirely on their own? The proposal seems to suggest these are cut and dry and some probably are, but moving the line risks pushing many routine advising discussions into contested territory.
3) #2 would generally be fine if every student were straight out of high school, or if there were a national database of diploma/GED receipt. As proposed this would probably push us back to collecting proof of diploma, but that creates other barriers for students, particularly many older or foreign students.

Peter G | 10/1/2021 2:19:48 PM

4) The Department here is completely evading a major potential morass which is homeschool. Federal and many states' rules are ambiguous, and most schools aren't positioned to be experts (we struggle even navigating our own state's contradictory requirements) so we are often accepting homeschool "documentation" that is little more than self-certification. We could easily end up with a cottage industry a decade down the road advising home school students on how to prove the documentation their college/univ accepted was invalid in some fashion.
#5) If I'm reading the Identity Theft section right the Department seems to be opening the door to cases around the relatively common issue we all know exists but usually can't prove of "Mom/Dad signed my prom note." I'd be curious how they are thinking about that issue.
#6) They should be thinking about some standard of limitation here that is built around legal documentation requirements. We responded to one false certification claim for loans from 1999-2000, where, as above, it seemed to just be a Hail Mary hope that we no longer had any documentation. If the loan had been 3 years earlier we likely wouldn't have.

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