November 1, 2019

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 3 - Issue 39

Policy and Advocacy

This Week In Washington

On Tuesday, the House Education and Labor Committee met for a markup of the College Affordability Act which stretched over 3 days. An amendment in the nature of a substitute, which is an amendment that replaces the original version of the bill, was offered by Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA-53) and adopted. That amendment increases funding for Pell Grants and reinstates subsidized loans for graduate and professional students, among other things. We supported this amendment along with Rep. Donna Shalala’s (D-FL-27) amendment that would require the Government Accountability Office to study and report on state policies that revoke a borrower’s professional or driver’s license solely because the borrower defaulted on a federal student loan. Several other amendments were offered by GOP lawmakers, but most were opposed and ultimately rejected. At the end of the markup, the bill was approved by a 28-22 vote along party lines and will now make its way to the House floor for a full vote.

On Monday, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), blocked a vote on the FUTURE Act for the third time. Recall that the FUTURE Act was a bill recently passed by the House that would provide funding for historically black colleges and universities. Alexander is hoping to pass his version of the bill, which is included in a package of eight higher education proposals intended to update the Higher Education Act (HEA).

On Tuesday, 23 Senate Democrats sent a letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau calling for the investigation of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency in connection with the management of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. In an interview with NPR, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), stated that there are “far too many people who expected to be part of this loan forgiveness and they find out in their eighth or ninth year that they're not eligible, and that's just outrageous." The Department of Education (ED) maintains that the high denial rates are "by Congressional design."

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA-3), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, sent a letter to ED Secretary Betsy DeVos formally requesting her testimony regarding loan discharges for former Corinthian Colleges students. Recall that the Secretary and ED were recently held in contempt by a federal judge for violating a preliminary injunction that halted collection on the discharged debts of former Corinthian Colleges students who claim they were defrauded by their schools.

News You Can Use

Student Loan Hero takes a look at what experts are saying about the effects of student loan debt on the economy.

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center uses fresh data to examine pathways and outcomes of students that left postsecondary education without receiving a degree or certificate.

A survey conducted by the American Council on Education, Georgia Institute of Technology, and consulting firm Huron found higher education leaders feel a heightened sense of urgency as they plan to tackle the difficult challenges that lay ahead.

Recent Legislation

The following bill(s) have been recently introduced for consideration by the 116th Congress (2019-2020):

H.R. 4869 — [Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK-5)] would amend HEA to remove all adverse credit history related to a loan from the overall credit history of a borrower who has rehabilitated the loan.