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[[Page 903]]

     HIGHER EDUCATION RELIEF OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS ACT OF 2003

[[Page 117 STAT. 904]]

Public Law 108-76
108th Congress

                                 An Act


 
To provide the Secretary of Education with specific waiver authority to 
        respond to a war or other military operation or national 
           emergency. <<NOTE: Aug. 18, 2003 -  [H.R. 1412]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Higher Education 
Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003.>> 

SECTION 1. <<NOTE: 20 USC 1070 note.>> SHORT TITLE; FINDINGS; REFERENCE.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Higher Education 
Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003''.
    (b) Findings.--The Congress finds the following:
            (1) There is no more important cause than that of our 
        nation's defense.
            (2) The United States will protect the freedom and secure 
        the safety of its citizens.
            (3) The United States military is the finest in the world 
        and its personnel are determined to lead the world in pursuit of 
        peace.
            (4) Hundreds of thousands of Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, 
        Navy, and Coast Guard reservists and members of the National 
        Guard have been called to active duty or active service.
            (5) The men and women of the United States military put 
        their lives on hold, leave their families, jobs, and 
        postsecondary education in order to serve their country and do 
        so with distinction.
            (6) There is no more important cause for this Congress than 
        to support the members of the United States military and provide 
        assistance with their transition into and out of active duty and 
        active service.

    (c) Reference.--References in this Act to ``the Act'' are references 
to the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001 et seq.).

SEC. 2. <<NOTE: 20 USC 1070 note.>> WAIVER AUTHORITY FOR RESPONSE TO 
            MILITARY CONTINGENCIES AND NATIONAL EMERGENCIES.

    (a) Waivers and Modifications.--
            (1) In general.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law, 
        unless enacted with specific reference to this section, the 
        Secretary of Education (referred to in this Act as the 
        ``Secretary'') may waive or modify any statutory or regulatory 
        provision applicable to the student financial assistance 
        programs under title IV of the Act as the Secretary deems 
        necessary in connection with a war or other military operation 
        or national emergency to provide the waivers or modifications 
        authorized by paragraph (2).

[[Page 117 STAT. 905]]

            (2) Actions authorized.--The Secretary is authorized to 
        waive or modify any provision described in paragraph (1) as may 
        be necessary to ensure that--
                    (A) recipients of student financial assistance under 
                title IV of the Act who are affected individuals are not 
                placed in a worse position financially in relation to 
                that financial assistance because of their status as 
                affected individuals;
                    (B) administrative requirements placed on affected 
                individuals who are recipients of student financial 
                assistance are minimized, to the extent possible without 
                impairing the integrity of the student financial 
                assistance programs, to ease the burden on such students 
                and avoid inadvertent, technical violations or defaults;
                    (C) the calculation of ``annual adjusted family 
                income'' and ``available income'', as used in the 
                determination of need for student financial assistance 
                under title IV of the Act for any such affected 
                individual (and the determination of such need for his 
                or her spouse and dependents, if applicable), may be 
                modified to mean the sums received in the first calendar 
                year of the award year for which such determination is 
                made, in order to reflect more accurately the financial 
                condition of such affected individual and his or her 
                family;
                    (D) the calculation under section 484B(b)(2) of the 
                Act (20 U.S.C. 1091b(b)(2)) of the amount a student is 
                required to return in the case of an affected individual 
                may be modified so that no overpayment will be required 
                to be returned or repaid if the institution has 
                documented (i) the student's status as an affected 
                individual in the student's file, and (ii) the amount of 
                any overpayment discharged; and
                    (E) institutions of higher education, eligible 
                lenders, guaranty agencies, and other entities 
                participating in the student assistance programs under 
                title IV of the Act that are located in areas that are 
                declared disaster areas by any Federal, State or local 
                official in connection with a national emergency, or 
                whose operations are significantly affected by such a 
                disaster, may be granted temporary relief from 
                requirements that are rendered infeasible or 
                unreasonable by a national emergency, including due 
                diligence requirements and reporting deadlines.

    (b) Notice of Waivers or Modifications.--
            (1) In general.--Notwithstanding <<NOTE: Federal Register, 
        publication.>> section 437 of the General Education Provisions 
        Act (20 U.S.C. 1232) and section 553 of title 5, United States 
        Code, the Secretary shall, by notice in the Federal Register, 
        publish the waivers or modifications of statutory and regulatory 
        provisions the Secretary deems necessary to achieve the purposes 
        of this section.
            (2) Terms and conditions.--The notice under paragraph (1) 
        shall include the terms and conditions to be applied in lieu of 
        such statutory and regulatory provisions.
            (3) Case-by-case basis.--The Secretary is not required to 
        exercise the waiver or modification authority under this section 
        on a case-by-case basis.

    (c) Impact <<NOTE: Deadline.>> Report.--The Secretary shall, not 
later than 15 months after first exercising any authority to issue a 
waiver or

[[Page 117 STAT. 906]]

modification under subsection (a), report to the Committee on Education 
and the Workforce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on 
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions of the Senate on the impact of any 
waivers or modifications issued pursuant to subsection (a) on affected 
individuals and the programs under title IV of the Act, and the basis 
for such determination, and include in such report the Secretary's 
recommendations for changes to the statutory or regulatory provisions 
that were the subject of such waiver or modification.

    (d) No Delay in Waivers and Modifications.--Sections 482(c) and 492 
of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1089(c), 1098a) shall not 
apply to the waivers and modifications authorized or required by this 
Act.

SEC. 3. <<NOTE: 20 USC 1070 note.>> TUITION REFUNDS OR CREDITS FOR 
            MEMBERS OF ARMED FORCES.

    (a) Sense of Congress.--It is the sense of Congress that--
            (1) all institutions offering postsecondary education should 
        provide a full refund to students who are affected individuals 
        for that portion of a period of instruction such student was 
        unable to complete, or for which such individual did not receive 
        academic credit, because he or she was called up for active duty 
        or active service; and
            (2) if affected individuals withdraw from a course of study 
        as a result of such active duty or active service, such 
        institutions should make every effort to minimize deferral of 
        enrollment or reapplication requirements and should provide the 
        greatest flexibility possible with administrative deadlines 
        related to those applications.

    (b) Definition of Full Refund.--For purposes of this section, a full 
refund includes a refund of required tuition and fees, or a credit in a 
comparable amount against future tuition and fees.

SEC. 4. <<NOTE: 20 USC 1070 note.>> USE OF PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT.

    A financial aid administrator shall be considered to be making a 
necessary adjustment in accordance with section 479A(a) of the Act if 
the administrator makes adjustments with respect to the calculation of 
the expected student or parent contribution (or both) of an affected 
individual, and adequately documents the need for the adjustment.

SEC. 5. <<NOTE: 20 USC 1070 note.>> DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Active duty.--The term ``active duty'' has the meaning 
        given such term in section 101(d)(1) of title 10, United States 
        Code, except that such term does not include active duty for 
        training or attendance at a service school.
            (2) Affected individual.--The term ``affected individual'' 
        means an individual who--
                    (A) is serving on active duty during a war or other 
                military operation or national emergency;
                    (B) is performing qualifying National Guard duty 
                during a war or other military operation or national 
                emergency;
                    (C) resides or is employed in an area that is 
                declared a disaster area by any Federal, State, or local 
                official in connection with a national emergency; or

[[Page 117 STAT. 907]]

                    (D) suffered direct economic hardship as a direct 
                result of a war or other military operation or national 
                emergency, as determined by the Secretary.
            (3) Military operation.--The term ``military operation'' 
        means a contingency operation as such term is defined in section 
        101(a)(13) of title 10, United States Code.
            (4) National emergency.--The term ``national emergency'' 
        means a national emergency declared by the President of the 
        United States.
            (5) Serving on active duty.--The term ``serving on active 
        duty during a war or other military operation or national 
        emergency'' shall include service by an individual who is--
                    (A) a Reserve of an Armed Force ordered to active 
                duty under section 12301(a), 12301(g), 12302, 12304, or 
                12306 of title 10, United States Code, or any retired 
                member of an Armed Force ordered to active duty under 
                section 688 of such title, for service in connection 
                with a war or other military operation or national 
                emergency, regardless of the location at which such 
                active duty service is performed; and
                    (B) any other member of an Armed Force on active 
                duty in connection with such war, operation, or 
                emergency or subsequent actions or conditions who has 
                been assigned to a duty station at a location other than 
                the location at which such member is normally assigned.
            (6) Qualifying national guard duty.--The term ``qualifying 
        National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or 
        national emergency'' means service as a member of the National 
        Guard on full-time National Guard duty (as defined in section 
        101(d)(5) of title 10, United States Code) under a call to 
        active service authorized by the President or the Secretary of 
        Defense for a period of more than 30 consecutive days under 
        section 502(f) of title 32, United States Code, in connection 
        with a war, another military operation, or a national emergency 
        declared by the President and supported by Federal funds.

[[Page 117 STAT. 908]]

SEC. 6. <<NOTE: 20 USC 1070 note.>> TERMINATION OF AUTHORITY.

    The provisions of this Act shall cease to be effective at the close 
of September 30, 2005.

    Approved August 18, 2003.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--H.R. 1412:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 149 (2003):
            Apr. 1, considered and passed House.
            July 31, considered and passed Senate.
WEEKLY COMPILATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS, Vol. 39 (2003):
            Aug. 18, Presidential statement.

                                  <all>

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