July 30, 2021

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 5 - Issue 27

Policy and Advocacy


This Week in Washington

Late last week, the Education Department (ED) issued a Request for Information (RFI) regarding ways to improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Specifically, the RFI asks for written comments from the public on operational and technical improvements that can be made to the PSLF program, borrower experiences, policy considerations, and other issues that should be considered to improve access. The deadline for comments is September 24 and they can be submitted here.

At a recent press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that President Joe Biden did not have the authority to forgive student debt and that it was purely in the powers of Congress to do so. Recall that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have been urging the White House to cancel up to $50,000 of student debt. Speaker Pelosi also suggested that it was not a prudent way to spend taxpayer money.

On Wednesday, the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Policy held a hearing titled “Protecting Student Loan Borrowers and the Economy in Upcoming Transitions.”  In her opening remarks, Subcommittee Chairwoman Warren discussed the federal student loan payment pause and how its impact demonstrated the importance of forgiving student loan debt. She also discussed the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency’s recent announcement that it would not be extending its contract with ED and the impact that this will have on student loan servicing. You can watch the hearing here.

News You Can Use

Data for Progress released a new poll showing that 61 percent of likely voters support making it easier to discharge student loans in bankruptcy.

FAFSA numbers are down, with experts blaming the pandemic.

‘Overwhelming’ demand for Illinois state program offering student loan relief for homebuyers.

Recent Legislation

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

H.R. 4631 – Protecting Our Students by Terminating Graduate Rates that Add to Debt (POST GRAD) Act [Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA-27)] reinstates eligibility for graduate and professional students to receive Federal Direct Subsidized Loans, which ended in 2011. AccessLex released a letter of support, which can be viewed here.