January 10, 2020

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 4 - Issue 1

Policy and Advocacy

This Week In Washington

On Wednesday, a federal judge agreed to consider raising fine amounts against the Department of Education (ED) and Secretary Betsy DeVos for continuing to pursue loan payments from former Corinthian Colleges students. Recall that DeVos and ED were held in contempt and required to pay a $100,000 fine for violating a preliminary injunction that halted collection on the loans of the former students who claim they were defrauded by their schools.

On Tuesday, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) urged fellow Senators to overturn the borrower defense rule by supporting his Congressional Review Act resolution. The borrower defense rule, which establishes new standards and processes under which borrowers can have federal student loans discharged in cases of fraud or deception by an institution, has come under fire for making it more difficult for defrauded borrowers to receive relief. The House will also consider a resolution introduced by Representative Susie Lee (D-NV-3) that would prevent ED’s rule from going into effect.

President Donald Trump will release his Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget request on February 10, a White House official confirmed. There is no word yet on the President’s budget priorities, but AccessLex will release a statement and summary once that information becomes public.

News You Can Use

The Office of Federal Student Aid reported that the outstanding federal student loan portfolio has surpassed $1.5 trillion.

Funding for public higher education grew by 5 percent in FY 2019-20, according to an annual survey of state-level appropriations.

The Student Borrower Protection Center released a report examining racial disparities in student loan borrowing.

Gallup is out with a new poll that found only half of all Americans consider obtaining a college degree to be very important, which is about a 20 percent decrease from 2013.

Recent Legislation

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

S. 3155Success for Rural Students and Communities Act [Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)] would establish a rural postsecondary and economic development grant program to help students pursue higher education while also expanding employment opportunities in their local communities.

S. 3168Preparing and Resourcing Our Student Parents and Early Childhood Teachers (PROSPECT) Act [Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)] would boost investment in federal grants that support childcare access for student-parents attending community college and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI’s).