In order to gather public input about the Obama Administration's proposals to address rising college costs and make college more affordable for American families, the U.S. Department of Education is announcing new details today about its plan to engage stakeholders over the coming months.
In a Federal Register notice published today, the Department announced that it will host four public forums across the country. These forums will coincide with the Department's upcoming Request for Information (RFI) to ask experts to weigh in on methods for creating a college ratings system that would better inform students and encourage institutions to improve.
"One of the best ways to address the challenges to our higher education system is through shared input," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. "We plan to engage as many stakeholder groups and individuals as possible to help us develop proposals that are useful to students and take into account the diversity of America's colleges and universities."
The open forums are designed to offer the opportunity for members of the public to provide feedback and input on the Department's proposals, as well as to hear the views of others. The four forums will take place:
- On November 6th at California State University, Dominguez Hills
- On November 13th at George Mason University
- On November 15th at the University of Northern Iowa
- On November 21st at Louisiana State University
Specific details about each public forum will provided later, and posted online here: www.ed.gov/college-affordability
In addition to hosting the forums, the Department will continue to plan and participate in outreach events like roundtable discussions, town hall conversations, and meetings with key stakeholders. Since the President's announcement in August of a new college value and affordability plan, Secretary Duncan and department officials have participated in events across the country to hear suggestions and concerns. Officials have met in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C, with groups including the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Historically Black Colleges and University Presidents' Board of Advisors, the American Council on Education, student leadership associations, independent college groups in Massachusetts and California, and over the next few weeks will meet with community colleges, business leaders, parents, faculty, and others.
In the coming weeks, the Department will also formally ask data experts and researchers to weigh in on the college ratings system through an RFI. Early next year, the Department will host a technical symposium where external experts can engage in further discussion and deliberate on these issues in greater depth. The Department will then publish a summary of the recommendations that were developed as a result of the RFI and the symposium, as well as other resources identified by external experts participating in the symposium, on the Department's college affordability Web site, www.ed.gov/college-affordability. The Department will use the feedback it receives to inform the development of proposed college rating metrics, which it will share in the spring for public comment.
The open forums are free and open to the public. Individuals desiring to present comments or feedback at an open forum should register by sending an e-mail at least three days prior to the open forum to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Open Forum Registration." Each participant will be limited to five minutes for comments. The Department will notify registrants of the location and time slot reserved for them. An individual may make only one presentation at the open forums. Walk-in registrations will also be accepted for any remaining time slots on a first-come, first-served basis at the Department's on-site registration table.
For those unable to attend the forums in person, their ideas may also be submitted online, by sending an e-mail to email@example.com, or by mail to the U.S. Department of Education headquarters in D.C. Transcripts from the open forums will be made available on the Department's college affordability Web site, www.ed.gov/college-affordability, shortly after each event. More information on the President's plan to improve college value and affordability is available on this site, as well as additional details on upcoming open forums, town hall meetings, and roundtable discussions across the country.
If you wish to testify and use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or text telephone (TTY), call the Federal Relay Service (FRS), toll free, at 1-800-877-8339 for more information.
If you have difficulty understanding English you may request language assistance services for Department information that is available to the public. These language assistance services are available free of charge. If you need more information about interpretation or translation services, please call 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327) (TTY: 1-800-437-0833), or email us at:Ed.Language.Assistance@ed.gov. Transcripts from the open forums will be made available on the www.ed.gov Web site for public viewing.