June 5, 2020

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 4 - Issue 20

Policy and Advocacy

This Week In Washington

In a court filing this week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) indicated that it is considering a rulemaking process that would make legally binding the restrictions ED is imposing on eligibility for emergency grants created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Recall that ED guidance states that only Title IV-eligible students may receive the grants. However, that guidance was later amended to state that ED will not initiate any enforcement action based solely on the guidance because it lacks “the force and effect of law.” Promulgating regulations that restrict the grants to Title IV-eligible students would make ED’s interpretation of the CARES Act legally binding on schools.

Late last week, the President vetoed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval intended to overturn borrower defense regulations issued by ED. Though the CRA had bipartisan support, neither the Senate nor the House is expected to have the votes to override the President’s veto. The borrower defense regulations, which establish new standards and processes under which borrowers can have federal student loans discharged in cases of fraud or deception by an institution, are set to take effect on July 1.

In response to a class action lawsuit filed by the National Student Legal Defense Network on behalf of student loan borrowers, ED disclosed that it unlawfully seized over $2 billion in tax refunds owed to student loan borrowers in violation of the CARES Act.

News You Can Use

California is suing ED for allegedly failing to implement the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) program.

Some colleges are offering discounted tuition deals in order to boost slumping student application numbers.

Hamilton Place Strategies released a report that explores the harsh realities facing the higher education system.

Recent Legislation

No relevant student aid bills were introduced this week for consideration by the 116th Congress (2019-2020).