July 15, 2022

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 6 - Issue 15

Policy and Advocacy


This Week in Washington

On Wednesday, the Education Department (ED) distributed the last tranche of Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants totaling $198 million. Recall that the funding was provided to colleges and universities by the American Rescue Plan, which was passed in March 2021 to help with the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to ED, almost 90 percent of the final funding went to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, minority serving institutions, community colleges, rural institutions and institutions serving large populations of low-income students.

In a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Republican leaders in Congress urged ED to extend the 30-day comment period for a recently released Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) dealing with issues impacting several student aid programs. The letter argues that the public should be provided with more time to provide comments because of the $85.1 billion price tag attached to the proposed changes. The NPRM includes changes to interest capitalization, Total and Permanent Disability discharge and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

On Tuesday, the Office of Federal Student Aid announced updates to the StudentAid.gov website. Included in those updates are a “PSLF Employer Search”, which will allow borrowers to enter an Employer Identification Number to check if the employer is a qualified employer, as well as an updated income-driven repayment plan landing page.

News You Can Use

Student loan servicer Navient was ordered to suspend collections on student loans discharged in bankruptcy.

Scammers are using Google ads to target students seeking loan relief, according to a watchdog group’s new report.

Recent Legislation

The following bill has been recently introduced for consideration by the 117th Congress (2021-2022):

H.R. 8330Simplifying and Strengthening PSLF Act [Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT-2)] would reduce the number of payments needed to be eligible for PSLF from 120 to 60, permit any prior period of repayment to count as a qualifying payment and allow certain Parent PLUS Loan borrowers to consolidate their debt into a Direct Loan for PSLF eligibility. A companion bill, S. 4345, was introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).