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DOT/MARAD RIN: 2133-AB92 Publication ID: Spring 2021 
Title: ●Admission and Training of Midshipmen at the United States Merchant Marine Academy; Amendment Providing an Emergency Waiver for Scholastic Requirements 

Institutions of higher education across the nation have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not only required them to adapt teaching methods and practices, but also admissions processes and criteria. The USMMA is faced with the dilemma of how to ensure the selection of qualified candidates, given the current pandemic situation. USMMA admissions rules currently require applicants to qualify in either the College Board's Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) or the American College Testing Program (ACT) standardized examinations and explicitly provides that no waivers of the scholastic requirements will be granted. The USMMA recognizes that prospective students may find it impractical or impossible to take the SAT and ACT, but without an emergency waiver, the USMMA would be unable to accept students without SAT and ACT test scores because of the rules current prohibition against waiver of the scholastic requirements. After considering the information provided in the request, the risks posed to maintaining a vibrant and qualified merchant marine, and assessing the ongoing hardships stemming from the public health emergency and the potential value this revision will bring to possible future events, MARAD has decided that there is good cause to issue this final rule revising its regulation to include a special emergency waiver of the scholastic requirements.

Agency: Department of Transportation(DOT)  Priority: Substantive, Nonsignificant 
RIN Status: First time published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 46 CFR 310   
Legal Authority: 46 U.S.C. ch. 513    49 U.S.C. 322(a)    49 CFR 1.93   

Overall Description of Deadline: The deadline is driven by the need to inform Congressional sponsor and their student nominees of the scholastic requirement waiver in time for prospective students to learn that they qualify to apply for admission to the USMMA. Without this expedited deadline, the USMMA may lose the opportunity to attract the very best qualified students to other institutions of higher learning that are already accepting applicants without standardize test scores.

Action Date FR Cite
Interim Final Rule  10/22/2020  85 FR 67299   
Interim Final Rule Comment Period End  11/23/2020 
Final Rule  05/00/2021 
Additional Information: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, student access to test centers and the opportunity to take the SAT and/or ACT has been greatly reduced in the United States. Strict adherence to the MARAD USMMA scholastic requirements regulation as written, without an emergency waiver to the regulation, will significantly affect the application process, selection, and appointment of prospective candidates, and may negatively impact enrollment numbers for the Class of 2025 at USMMA. This interim final rule responds to an emergency waiver request submitted by the USMMA seeking a revision to its governing regulations that would provide for a waiver of the scholastic requirements under special circumstances. After considering the issues raised in the USMMA request, the Agency agrees that the unprecedented disruptions caused by the public health emergency make compliance by prospective candidates with the regulations as presently styled impracticable and warrant appropriate regulatory relief. Accordingly, MARAD is revising the regulation to provide a waiver of the scholastic requirements in the event of a state or national emergency that significantly limits the ability of applicants to take either the SAT or ACT.
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Information URL:   Public Comment URL:  
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Mitch Hudson
Senior Attorney
Department of Transportation
Maritime Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE,
Washington, DC 20590
Phone:202 366-9373