March 5, 2021

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 5 - Issue 7

Policy and Advocacy


This Week in Washington

On Monday, the Senate voted 64-33 to confirm the nomination of Dr. Miquel Cardona officially making him the next U.S. Secretary of Education. Cardona, who served as Connecticut’s education commissioner, has said that he plans on focusing on reopening schools and the inequities in the education system. He was sworn into office on Tuesday morning by Vice President Harris. Yesterday, AccessLex Institute sent Secretary Cardona a letter congratulating him on his confirmation and sharing with him AccessLex’s higher education priorities. Read the letter here.

General Mark Brown, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Office of Federal Student Aid, has resigned from his post. Robin Minor, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Partner Participation and Oversight, will serve as Acting COO until President Biden selects a replacement.

On Tuesday, Rohit Chopra, in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee to be the next Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) expressed concern that student loan servicers would not be prepared to handle the resumption of student loan payments in October. Chopra said that the CFPB and the U.S. Department of Education must work together to “avoid an avalanche of defaults.”

The COVID relief bill advanced to the Senate this week with the chamber expected to debate the bill on the floor today. Included in the Senate version of the bill is a provision that would exclude from taxable income forgiveness or discharge of a federal or private student loan through 2025.

News You Can Use

A new poll conducted by Monmouth University found that 61 percent of U.S. adults support offering $10,000 in debt cancelation to anyone carrying federal student loans. When the amount of debt cancelation was increased to $50,000 per borrower, support decreased to 45 percent.

We already have an alternative to massive student-loan cancellation, argues Beth Akers of the American Enterprise Institute.

Recent Legislation

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

H.R. 1372Protecting Job Opportunities for Borrowers (JOBs) Act [Rep. Deborah Ross (D-NC-2)] would prevent states from halting, canceling, or denying state-issued professional licenses based solely on the fact that a borrower has fallen behind or defaulted on their federal student loan payments. This is a companion bill to S.210, which was introduced in the Senate last month by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

S. 496 – [Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)] would exclude from taxable income any student loan forgiveness or student loan discharge.

H.R. 1586 – [Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA-10)] would direct the Secretary of Education to carry out a program under which an institution of higher education may elect to cosign Federal student loans made to students attending the institution.