This Week in Washington
Both Chambers of Congress are on recess until April 29.
A group of Senate Democrats sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee asking that the fiscal year 2020 spending bill include changes to the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (TEPSLF). Recall, the TEPSLF program is a $700 million first-come, first-served fund created by Congress to help borrowers who are in the wrong repayment plan qualify for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Concerned about the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) implementation and high rejection rate under TEPSLF, the senators urge Congress to: repeal ED’s requirement that an applicant first be denied for PSLF; expand the TEPSLF program to include older loan types; and mandate ED reach out to all potentially eligible TEPSLF borrowers.
The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) at ED issued guidance to institutions on how to message financial aid packages to students. Among other suggestions, FSA recommends that financial aid offers not be called “awards” or “letters,” that they clearly identify the source of a student loan (e.g., federal, private, intuitional, etc.), and that students are provided with next steps to take in the process.
ED has sent its proposed final rule for the new Gainful Employment regulations to the Office of Management and Budget for review. This is the final step before publishing the rule, which is likely to go into effect on July 1, 2020. While the public has not seen the final rule, it is expected that it will essentially repeal Gainful Employment, which applies to for-profit schools, and instead require ED to add additional information to the College Scorecard about all types of institutions. Recall, ED had put out a draft rule last year before missing a critical deadline for implementation that delayed it until this year. We will keep you informed when the final rule is posted.
News You Can Use
Inside Higher Ed reports on a new study by Aaron N. Taylor, executive director of the AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence, which makes the case that law schools' overemphasis on the Law School Admission Test in the admissions process is effectively limiting enrollment for aspiring black law students.
The American Bankruptcy Institute’s Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy released new recommendations to ease the dischargeability of student loans in bankruptcy.
The Wall Street Journal covers the disproportionate level of student loan debt, and the difficulties with repayment, faced by students at historically black colleges and universities.
The following bill(s) have been recently introduced for consideration by the 116th Congress (2019-2020):
H.R. 2321 – Understanding the True Cost of College Act [Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (D-NJ-2)] would require institutions of higher education to use a uniform financial aid award letter, developed by ED and relevant stakeholders. H.R. 2321 is the House companion bill to S. 888, which was introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
S. 1153 – Stop Student Debt Relief Scams Act of 2019 [Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) et al.] would enhance law enforcement and administrative abilities to identify and shut down those who engage in fraud or seek private financial gain at the expense of federal student loan borrowers. The bill would also require exit counseling to inform borrowers of these scams.
S. 1219 – Domenic and Ed’s Law [Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) et al.] would provide loan forgiveness for families who borrowed Parent PLUS loans if the student for whom they borrowed becomes disabled. S. 1219 is the Senate companion bill to H.R. 2180, which was introduced by Rep. James Langevin (D-RI-2).