March 13, 2020

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 4 - Issue 9

Policy and Advocacy

This Week In Washington

This week, Senate Democrats unveiled their new Economic and Community Services Proposal to help combat the economic fallout of COVID-19. The proposal, which is not currently included in the current COVID-19 legislative package, asks for payment forbearance on federal student loans for a period of six months. The federal student loan payment relief would apply to individuals impacted by COVID-19 who may be struggling to meet their payment obligations.

On Wednesday, the Senate passed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval that would overturn the new borrower defense regulations issued by the Education Department (ED) last year. Recall that 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 passed the measure in January and the CRA will now head to the President’s desk for his signature, although it is unclear whether he will sign it.

On Monday, Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) sent a letter to ED’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) asking for a review to be conducted into ED’s “process for developing the Borrower Defense Tiered Relief Methodology.” Back in February, Rep. Scott also sent a letter to ED Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting information about the development and approval process of the new formula used for processing borrower defense claims.

News You Can Use

Aaron Taylor, Executive Director of the AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence, discusses AccessLex Institute’s new pipeline program that aims to help close the law school diversity gap.

More and more states are removing questions about mental health treatment in character and fitness reviews in an effort to reduce the stigma law students face for considering treatment.

Experts discuss how the coronavirus outbreak could impact student debt and repayment options.

Insight for borrowers considering student loan refinancing in light of the Federal Reserve’s recent interest rate cut.

Recent Legislation

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

H.R. 6087 Public Service Appreciation Through Loan Forgiveness Act [Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL-3)] would expand the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program by allowing eligible employees to receive partial forgiveness on their debt after four years. Specifically, loan and interest debt would be reduced by 10 percent after four years of employment, 20 percent after six years, 50 percent after eight years, and complete debt forgiveness after ten years of qualified payments.

H.R. 6134 VET MED Act [Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-MI-14)] would expand eligibility for interest-free deferment on student loans of veterinary students serving in an internship or residency program.