ED Updates Military and Emergency Waivers
October 9, 2012
The Department of Education (ED) has issued updated waivers to the regulations governing federal student aid programs in order to assist students who are performing qualifying military service and individuals who are affected by a disaster, war, or other military operation or national emergency. These waivers are effective September 27, 2012 through September 30, 2017.
The waivers and modifications allow ED to ensure that aid recipients "are not placed in a worse position financially in relation to the financial assistance because they are affected individuals," especially by safeguarding students from required repayments based on ED's return of Title IV funds (R2T4) rules. The waivers and modifications also allow ED to protect affected individuals from being subjected to undue administrative burden.
In a Federal Register notice on December 12, 2003, ED exercised its authority under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003 and announced waivers and modifications of statutory and regulatory provisions designed to assist "affected individuals," defined as individuals who:
- Are serving on active duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency;
- Are performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency;
- Reside or are employed in an area that is declared a disaster area by any Federal, State, or local official in connection with a national emergency; or
- Have suffered direct economic hardship as a direct result of a war or other military operation or national emergency, as determined by the Secretary.
Since the notice, the waiver authority had been extended once. In 2007, the President signed into law PL-110-93, which eliminated the expiration date of the HEROES Act, giving ED permanent authority to issue waivers and modifications to statutory and regulatory provisions.
Waivers and Modifications
After reviewing the existing wavers and modifications, ED has announced updates, though for the most part they are the same as those originally published in 2003. They have been grouped into four categories.
Category 1. ED is waiving or modifying the following Title IV provisions and regulations for ALL affected individuals:
- Need analysis
- Professional judgment
- R2T4 (grant overpayments owed by a student)
- Verification of Adjusted Gross Income and US Income Tax paid
Category 2. ED is waiving or modifying the following Title IV provisions and regulations for affected individuals serving on active duty, performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency, or who reside or are employed in a disaster area.
- R2T4 (post-withdrawal disbursements of loan funds)
- Leaves of absence
- Treatment of Title IV credit balances when a student withdraws
- Borrower request for loan cancellation
- Student and parent authorizations
- Satisfactory academic progress
- Borrowers in a grace period
- Borrowers in an "in-school" period
- Borrowers in an in-school or graduate fellowship deferment
- Collection of defaulted loans
- Loan cancellation
- Rehabilitation of defaulted loans
- Reinstatement of Title IV eligibility
- Consolidation of defaulted loans
- Annual reevaluation requirements for Direct Loan and FFEL borrowers under the Income-Based Repayment and Income-Contingent Repayment plans
Category 3. ED is waiving or modifying the following Title IV provisions and regulations for affected individuals who are serving on active duty or performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency.
- Institutional charges and refunds
Category 4. ED is waiving or modifying the following provisions of the HEA and ED's regulations for dependents and spouses of affected individuals who are serving on active duty or performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency.
- Verification signature requirements
- Required signatures on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, Student Aid Report, and Institutional Student Information Record
Details of the modifications are provided in the September 27 Federal Register notice.
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