September 24, 2021

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 5 - Issue 34

Policy and Advocacy


This Week in Washington

The Congressional Research Service recently released a report analyzing the FAFSA Simplification Act and the forthcoming phased-in implementation of the law. Recall that the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) previously announced that the FAFSA Simplification Act, which was supposed to be implemented in the 2023-24 award year, would not be implemented until the 2024-25 award year. Also recall that the FAFSA Simplification Act will expand access to the Pell Grant award, replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) with the Student Aid Index (SAI), and streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, among other things. Most notably, the report provides an analysis of the difference between the EFC and the SAI, Pell Grant award calculations, and the forgiveness of certain Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ capital financing debt.

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released this week finds that staffing levels at FSA have not kept pace with its growing loan portfolio and the increase in work that has accompanied that growth. The report says that from FY 2010 to 2019, borrowers increased by 150 percent, while staffing only increased by 6 percent.

News You Can Use

A new report from AccessLex Institute and the American Bar Association found, among other things, that Black borrowers were more likely than other groups to report higher loan balances now than at graduation.

The U.S. Treasury Department is pulling back from drafting new student loan retirement plan rules.

Higher education organizations weigh in on what to expect from James Kvaal as Under Secretary of Education.

Recent Legislation

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

H.R. 5322 Students and Young Consumers Empowerment Act [Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1)] would reopen the Office for Students and Young Consumers within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.