Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 6 - Issue 29
This Week in Washington
This Week in Washington
On Tuesday, the Education Department (ED) released its final regulations on several student aid programs including the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, interest capitalization, and Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharges. Recall that in July, ED released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with proposals to modify the PSLF program, eliminate non-statutory interest capitalization, and make it easier for borrowers to obtain a TPD discharge. The final rules, which go into effect July 1, 2023, will:
- Eliminate non-statutory interest capitalization;
- Expand the categories that a borrower may qualify for TPD to include Medical Improvement Possible, compassionate allowance, and having an established onset date of at least five years ago;
- Count lump sum payments, payments made in multiple installments, and certain periods of forbearances and deferments as qualifying PSLF payments;
- Count payments made on a Direct Loan prior to consolidation as qualifying PSLF payments using a weighted average;
- Provide borrowers with a reconsideration process enabling them to request a review of their employer or qualifying payment status; and
- Automate the process of identifying public servants and accounting for their time worked to ensure they automatically receive progress toward PSLF.
On Thursday, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a plan to approve 16 million applications for student debt forgiveness by the end of the week. Recall that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary block of the student debt forgiveness plan, preventing ED from discharging any student loans until the court ruled on an emergency request by six Republican-led states to prevent the policy from going into effect. ED continued to accept applications after the ruling and plans to move forward with approving the applications despite the block.
The following bill has been recently introduced for consideration by the 117th Congress (2021-2022):
H.R. 9242 – Legal Aid for Americans Act [Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN-2)] would establish pro bono service requirements for law school graduates who receive federal student aid. After passing the bar exam, lawyers would have to devote 50 hours annually for three years unless they fell into exempt categories, such as being a public service worker or active servicemember or attending an institution of higher education.