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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

Institutions Invited to Experiment with Financial Aid

November 1, 2011

The Department of Education is inviting colleges and universities to participate in eight new experiments to test alternative methods for administering federal financial aid. The Higher Education Act authorizes ED to grant waivers of certain statutory and regulatory requirements under Title IV for institutions participating in the Experimental Sites Initiative. The experiments are intended to inform future policy discussions.

The eight proposed experiments, as outlined in the October 27 Federal Register notice, are:

  1. Federal Pell Grant Program—Eligibility of students with bachelor's degrees who enroll in vocational or career programs
  2. Federal Pell Grant Program—Eligibility of students enrolled in certain short-term training programs
  3. Direct Loan Program—Single disbursement of a one-term loan for study abroad students
  4. Direct Loan Program—Early disbursement for study abroad students and for students enrolled in foreign institutions
  5. Direct Loan Program—Unequal disbursements
  6. Direct Loan Program—Limiting unsubsidized loan amounts
  7. PLUS Loans for parents of students with intellectual disabilities
  8. Student Eligibility—Eligibility of students with intellectual disabilities who are also enrolled in high school

The deadline for applications to participate is December 12. Institutions may apply to participate in one or more of the experiments. ED will select a limited number of participants for each, seeking to ensure a balanced representation of different types of institutions. Institutions’ track records in administering Title IV programs and the extent to which they are willing to “conduct the experiment in a way that maximizes the Department’s ability to make reliable evaluations of the experiments” will also be considered.


Anne Gross
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs