This Week In Washington
Following up on a request from Senator Tim Kaine and others regarding the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (TEPSLF), the U.S. Department of Education (ED) provided additional information about the program. ED reported that as of December 2018, only 262 borrowers (out of over 38,000 submitted applications) have been approved for TEPSLF, resulting in $10.6 million in forgiveness. ED also provided information about why it denied applications, with the most common reason (nearly 40 percent) for rejecting applications being borrowers not in repayment for the requisite 10 years. Recall, the TEPSLF program is a $700 million first-come, first-served fund that Congress created to help borrowers who were in the wrong repayment plan to qualify for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
On Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment held a hearing about higher education accountability. Much of the hearing was focused on what the “triad” (ED, States and accreditation agencies) could be doing better to ensure students are finding value for their investment in post-secondary education. Democrats focused on for-profit schools as their prime example of lax accountability, and Republicans sought information about over-credentialing and flexibility for accreditors. This hearing is part of the Education and Labor Committee’s Higher Education Act reauthorization work that will last for several months. You can watch the hearing here.
As a follow up to last week’s Senate appropriations committee hearings regarding ED’s processing of Borrower Defense to Repayment (DTR) claims, Senator Patty Murray, the ranking member on the Senate education committee, released a statement confirming that, according to ED, “no claims filed by students who were cheated or defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges were approved in last quarter of 2018.” Recall, ED has not been processing claims for months, has tried to unilaterally change the forgiveness amounts, and slow-walked the claims it did process, until a judge finally forced ED to enforce the Obama-era DTR regulations. Senator Murray demanded full implementation of the regulations.
News You Can Use
AccessLex Institute released a report, the first in a two-part series, that uses federal data to show that the primary criticisms of the Grad PLUS loan program—rising institutional education costs and potential cost to the federal government—are either nonexistent or massively overblown.
New America promotes requiring all colleges and universities to use a standardized template for financial aid award letters.
Higher Learning Advocates released a set of policy recommendations to reform higher education to better serve an increasingly diverse population of students.
The following bill(s) have been recently introduced for consideration by the 116th Congress (2019-2020):
H.R. 1930 – States’ Education Reclamation Act [Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC-7)] would eliminate the U.S. Department of Education.
H.R. 2006 | S. 943 – College Equity Act [Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL-27) | Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) et al.] would establish grants to provide institutions of higher education with the resources to examine and address inequities in student access and success.
S. 968 – Protect Student Borrowers Act [Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) et al.] would reform institutional accountability and how institutions bear the “financial risk” of student loan default in the federal student loan programs. The bill would also provide incentives for institutions to ease student loan debt burdens and reduce default rates.
H.R. 2065 | S. 1002 – Affordable Loans for Any Student Act of 2019 [Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3) | Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) et al.] would reform the federal student loan repayment system so that borrowers have the option of a fixed or an income-based repayment (IBR) plan. The bill would also eliminate interest capitalization and loan origination fees and allow for the automatic recertification of income under IBR plans.