This Week In Washington
Yesterday, the House passed its Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget resolution. As passed, the resolution instructs the education committee to cut $20 billion over ten years from mandatory spending programs within its jurisdiction, which includes mostly federal financial aid programs. However, late last week, the Senate released its budget resolution for FY18, and it does not contain reconciliation instructions to the Senate education committee. Yesterday, the Senate Budget Committee marked up the Senate resolution, but no substantive changes were made and no instruction to cut education was included.
The Senate’s resolution is expected to head to the Senate floor later this month for a vote. If the resolution passes, the two chambers will need to come to agreement about the differences between their resolutions. Once that occurs, a final budget resolution will emerge that both chambers must pass. If the two chambers produce and pass a budget resolution that contains large reconciliation instructions to the respective education committees, there could be substantial changes to federal financial aid programs. Now is the time to get involved and ensure that these changes do not occur. Visit our #MakeTheCase advocacy website for information to get involved.
On Wednesday, Dr. A. Wayne Johnson, the head of the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), shared his thoughts about a bevy of higher education topics. Among them, he said he would like to increase FSA’s public visibility and improve its customer service (subscription required). He also noted that FSA is putting resources into having the backlog of borrower defense to repayment claims, mostly stemming from the closure of Corinthian Colleges and ITT, properly addressed. Finally, he floated the idea that the Department of Education (ED) may consider selling off its loan portfolio, but he provided no details on what that would mean for students.
On October 1st, ED released its 2018–19 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). The Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) was also restored and available on Sunday, after being taken offline due to security flaws. ED announced that nearly 230,000 applications were received on the first day. Additionally, FSA announced it has updated FASFA resources for financial aid administrators to use when helping students fill out the application.
News You Can Use
Cohort default rates increased for FY 2014 which indicates that borrowers are still struggling to pay their federal student loans despite having income-driven repayment options available to them.
Borrowers and advocates don’t expect implementation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to go smoothly.
Study finds that law school applicants place a high value on experiential learning.
The following bill was recently introduced for consideration by the 115th Congress (2017-2018):
H.R. 3869 – Innovation in Accreditation Act [Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL)] would waive requirements if accreditors can successfully demonstrate that a waiver is necessary to implement innovative practices at a higher education institution or a program accredited by the agency or association.