February 5, 2021

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 5 - Issue 3

Policy and Advocacy


This Week in Washington

On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing considering the nomination of Miguel Cardona who would serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education. In her opening remarks, Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) highlighted the impact that COVID-19 has had on students and the work that would need to be done by the Secretary to ensure that students and schools were supported. Overhauling the financial aid system was also a topic of discussion with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asking for Cardona to commit to reforming the Office of Federal Student Aid. Members of both parties expressed support with moving the nomination forward. The committee has scheduled a vote on Cardona’s nomination for February 11.

After Democratic Senators renewed their push for President Biden to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt through executive action, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the administration is “reviewing whether there are any steps he can take through executive action” but that the president “would welcome the opportunity to sign a bill sent to him by Congress.” In December, President Biden questioned whether the president has the authority to cancel student loan debt

News You Can Use

Navient, which currently services one in every five federal student loans, was ordered to repay $22 million to the government for previous overcharges.

Student loan payment freeze gives badly needed relief to struggling borrowers.

An opinion piece penned by two experts on economic inequality explore what canceling student debt would do for the racial wealth gap.

Recent Legislation

The following bill(s) have been recently introduced for consideration by the 117th Congress (2021-2022):

S. 210Protecting Job Opportunities for Borrowers Act [Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)] would prevent states from halting, canceling, or denying state professional licenses based solely on the fact that a borrower has fallen behind on their federal student loan payments.

S. 146Medical Bankruptcy Fairness Act [Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)] includes a provision that would empower certain borrowers to discharge their student loan debt through bankruptcy.

H.R. 394COVID-19 Student Loan Relief Extension Act [Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT-2)] extends emergency student loan forbearance relief until 30 days after the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer declared a public health emergency and would retroactively extend these benefits to privately held FFEL and Perkins loans.