March 24, 2023

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 7 - Issue 9

Policy and Advocacy


This Week in Washington

On Thursday, the Committee on Education & the Workforce's Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing titled “Breaking the System: Examining the Implications of Biden’s Student Loan Policies for Students and Taxpayers.” In his opening statement, Chairman of the Subcommittee, Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT-04), stated that “the Biden Administration’s proposal is a patchwork attempt to fix a structural problem that will only make worse the issues of rising prices and low-quality education,” while Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07) underscored that the reduction in investment from states, increased cost of attendance, and weakened Pell Grant value are the cause of increased student loans. View the hearing.

On Tuesday, the Education Department (ED) announced that it would not release the redesign of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) until December. Recall that the FAFSA Simplification Act and the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act required ED to simplify the financial aid application and allowed ED and the Internal Revenue Service to exchange student tax information. According to ED, the release of the redesigned FAFSA form (which is typically available in October) will be delayed due to outdated ED technology and the complexity of the changes required.

ED also announced plans to hold public hearings in April to receive feedback on issues for future rulemaking sessions including how to improve a borrowers’ understanding of the current repayment options. The public may also provide feedback on any regulatory issue that could improve outcomes for students. The hearings will take place on April 11-13 and individuals may register to provide public comments.

Late last week, Senate Republicans announced plans to introduce a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution in an attempt to overturn the Biden-Harris Administration’s student loan forgiveness plan. Although the forgiveness plan is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, a Government Accountability Office decision that marked the plan as an ED “rule” allows the Senators to force a vote through the CRA to overturn the debt relief plan. The CRA will require a simple majority in both chambers to pass.

News You Can Use

New research providing better data on Minority Serving Institutions could lead to better outcomes.

Recent Legislation

The following bill(s) have been recently introduced for consideration by the 118th Congress (2023-2024):

H.R. 1731 – Lowering Obstacles to Achievement Now (LOAN) Act [Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24)] would allow graduate and professional students to exhaust Pell Grant funds on graduate studies, improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, provide graduate and professional students with access to subsidized loans, eliminate origination fees, and reduce interest rates.