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Experimental Sites Initiative

Expansion of the Competency-Based Education (CBE) Experiment


The expansion of the current Competency-Based Education experiment provides two additional sets of statutory and regulatory waivers. Institutions must choose a single set of waivers from among the three sets available that will apply to all of the competency-based education programs that it includes under the experiment. The sets of waivers are as follows:

(1) Split Disbursement: This set of waivers includes all of the disbursement, satisfactory academic progress, and Return of Title IV Funds waivers described in the July 31, 2014 Federal Register Notice and explained in the Competency-Based Education Experiment Reference Guide.

(2) Satisfactory Academic Progress Only: A second set of waivers will include only the waivers to the satisfactory academic progress requirements described in the July 31, 2014 Federal Register Notice and explained in the Competency-Based Education Experiment Reference Guide.

(3) Subscription Period Disbursement: The third set of waivers is intended for institutions offering competency-based programs using subscription periods.
For more details about the experiment, refer to the November 18, 2015 Federal Register Notice.

Dual Enrollment Experiment

Under this experiment, participating institutions will be provided a waiver of the specific statutory and regulatory provisions that prevent students who are enrolled in secondary school from receiving Federal Pell Grants for enrollment in title IV-eligible postsecondary programs. For more details about the experiment, refer to the November 3, 2015 Federal Register Notice.

Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) Experiment

Under this experiment, participating title IV eligible postsecondary institutions will be provided a waiver to allow them to provide some types of Federal student aid under the title IV, HEA programs (title IV aid) to otherwise eligible students who are pursuing a program of study offered by the institution where 50 percent or more of the educational program is provided by one or more entities that are not traditionally eligible to participate in the title IV programs (non-traditional providers), through a contractual agreement with the participating institution. For more details about the experiment, refer to the October 15, 2015 Federal Register Notice.

Second Chance Pell Experiment

Under this experiment, participating institutions will provide Federal Pell Grant funding to otherwise eligible students who are incarcerated in Federal or State penal institutions. For more details about the experiment, refer to the August 3, 2015 Federal Register Notice.

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), Competency-Based Education (CBE), Limited Direct Assessment (LDA) and FWS for Near-Peer Counseling Experiments

Prior Learning Assessment - Provides that a student's Title IV cost of attendance (COA) can include costs incurred by the student for assessments of prior learning and that a student's Federal Pell Grant enrollment status may, with limitations, take into account a student's efforts to prepare materials for a prior learning assessment.
Competency-Based Education - Provides flexibility in how institutions provide Federal student aid to students enrolled in self-paced competency-based education programs.
Limited Direct Assessment - Provides flexibility for an institution to provide a mix of direct assessment coursework and credit or clock hour coursework in the same program.
Federal Work Study (FWS) for Near-Peer Counseling - Provides flexibility for institutions to compensate FWS students, who are employed as "near-peer" counselors to high school students, solely with Federal funds.

For more details about these experiments, refer to the July 31, 2014 Federal Register Notice.

Eligibility of students with bachelor’s degree who enroll in vocational or career programs and Eligibility of students enrolled in certain short-term training programs (referred to as Pell Grant Experiments)

Eligibility of students with bachelor’s degrees who enroll in vocational or career programs
The experiment would allow at least some students with a bachelor’s degree to receive not more than one full scheduled Pell Grant award, over no more than two years, for enrollment in a vocational/career program of study of one year or less.
Eligibility of students enrolled in certain short-term training programs
The experiment would allow Pell Grants to be received by at least some otherwise eligible students who are enrolled in a vocational program of at least eight weeks in length and that, at a minimum, include at least 150 clock hours of instructional time. The institution must provide training needed to meet local or regional workforce needs.

For more details about these experiments, refer to the October 27, 2011 Federal Register Notice.

Direct Loan: Limiting unsubsidized loan amounts Experiment

Limiting unsubsidized loan amounts
The experiment would allow an institution to establish a written policy where for students enrolled in a particular educational program or on some other categorical basis (e.g., students living at home or first-time freshmen), it would reduce by at least $2,000 (the amount of the most recent statutory increase) the amount of an unsubsidized Direct Loan that the otherwise eligible student would receive, or eliminate the unsubsidized Direct Loan completely.

For more details about this experiment, refer to the October 27, 2011 Federal Register Notice.

Conclusion of Experiments

There were four experiments announced in the October 27, 2011 Federal Register Notice that will be ending on June 30, 2016. They are outlined below.

Experiments Ending on June 30, 2016

Single disbursement of a one-term loan for study abroad students
The experiment would allow a single disbursement of a one-term loan for some study abroad students attending participating institutions even if the institution’s cohort default rate equals or exceeds five percent.
Early disbursement for study abroad students and for students enrolled in foreign institutions
The experiment would permit participating domestic institutions to disburse Direct Loan funds for some students enrolled in approved study abroad programs as early as 30 days prior to the first day of classes of the student’s enrollment for the loan period. Similarly, participating foreign institutions would be able to disburse Direct Loan funds as early as 30 days prior to the first day of classes of the student’s enrollment for the loan period.
Unequal disbursements
The experiment would waive the requirement that Direct Loans be disbursed in at least two substantially equal disbursements and would allow, under certain conditions, unequal disbursements of Direct Loan proceeds.
PLUS Loans for parents of students with intellectual disabilities
The experiment would permit participating institutions to originate and disburse Direct PLUS loans to the otherwise eligible parents of dependent students with intellectual disabilities, as defined in the Department’s regulations at 34CFR 668.231(a).
Student Eligibility-Eligibility of students with intellectual disabilities who are also enrolled in high school 
The experiment would permit some students with intellectual disabilities who are enrolled in an approved comprehensive transition and postsecondary program at a Title IV eligible institution while also enrolled in secondary school (dually enrolled students) to receive Title IV funding, notwithstanding the general prohibition of eligibility for such students because of their dual enrollment.
For more details about these experiments, refer to the October 27, 2011 Federal Register Notice.