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Experimental Sites Offer New Postsecondary Flexibility


August 7, 2014


Experimental Sites Offer New Postsecondary Flexibility

The Department of Education is soliciting applications from postsecondary institutions that are interested in participating in a new initiative that will provide greater flexibility to test innovative practices that promote college affordability. Under its “experimental site” authority, the department will grant waivers from certain federal student financial aid requirements to allow participating institutions to experiment with alternative methods for administering Title IV programs. The project is part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to reduce the cost of college and expand access to postsecondary education for contemporary students. There are four experimental models that participants will have the opportunity to explore:

  • Competency-Based Education—Waives certain time-based restrictions to allow intuitions to have greater flexibility in distributing financial aid to students enrolled in competency-based education programs.
  • Prior Learning Assessment—Allows students to include the costs incurred from an assessment of prior learning, such as test fees, as part of the “cost of attendance” calculation for determining their financial aid need.
  • Limited Direct Assessment—Permits institutions to provide a mix of direct assessment courses and credit- or clock-hour coursework in the same program.
  • Federal Work Study for Near-Peer Counseling—Provides flexibility for institutions to compensate federal work study students, who are employed as “near-peer” counselors to high school students, solely with federal funds.
Letters of application should be submitted to the department by September 29, 2014. More information is available online through the Federal Register.

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