This Week In Washington
Both chambers of Congress were back in session this week.
Ballots in several races, mostly in California, are still being counted, and every day it appears Democrats will pick up even more seats in the House. As it stands, Democrats will likely pick up 36–40 seats in the House, and Republicans will net two seats in the Senate (the Florida Senate race is engaged in a recount). These new election developments do not change our preview of how the 115th Congress will come to a close, but it does mean Democrats will have even more cushion in the House, and Republicans will have only a slightly larger margin in the Senate come the 116th Congress next year. Please read our recap and brief analysis about what the mid-term election results mean for higher education policy here.
News You Can Use
The New York Times reports that borrower defense to repayment, the student loan debt relief program for defrauded borrowers, has slowed to a halt under the current administration.
Higher Learning Advocates commissioned a paper on using program-level student loan repayment rates as an accountability metric for institutions. Given the lag of repayment rate data collection, it concludes that the “most straightforward solution at this point is to use institution-level repayment rates for federal financial aid eligibility purposes while making program-level repayment rates for graduates available to the public as an informational measure.”
The Association of Public Land-grant Universities is leading an initiative with 130 other public institutions and systems in a collaborative effort to scale up innovative solutions to improve college access, advance equity and increase college degrees awarded.
The following bill(s) have been recently introduced for consideration by the 115th Congress (2017-2018):
S. 3611 – Faster Access to Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Act of 2018 [Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) | Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)] aims to improve data sharing between the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Education to simplify the application, verification and repayment processes for federal student aid.