The U.S. Education Department published final regulations today carrying out a broad array of changes that Congress made last year made in student grant, campus crime and other programs in the Higher Education Act. The changes include guidelines for a year-round Pell Grant, increased reporting about fire safety, and the first-ever requirements governing illegal file sharing. On Wednesday, the department published final rules to carry out changes made to student loan programs in the Higher Education Opportunity Act. Among the many provisions, which were published in the Federal Register, include changing how student loan default rates are calculated, requiring colleges to disclose significantly more information about their relationships with lenders, and expanding loan cancellation to a slew of other fields. Also Wednesday, the department announced that it was seeking new suggestions for innovative student aid changes it should support through the reconstituted Experimental Sites Initiative. The program, under which the federal government eases certain red tape for experiments that ease the delivery of aid to students without increasing waste or fraud, was ended by the Bush administration last year to the consternation of the 100-plus colleges in the program. Congress extended the authority of the existing experiments through next July, but many colleges have ended their experiments, given the planned phaseout. A department spokeswoman said that the department is seeking ideas about possible experimental designs into which it would then invite colleges to participate. Suggestions are due December 18.
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