This Week In Washington
There is little news this week because both chambers of Congress are on recess, and the administration has not been very active on relevant issues. Thus, we want to remind you of some important stories that happened over the past few weeks.
- The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced its intent to engage in negotiated rulemaking around issues of accreditation, state authorization, and more.
- ED to effectively scrap its Gainful Employment regulations. (UPDATE BELOW!)
- ED released its draft proposed rule of Borrower Defense to Repayment regulations.
- House Democrats released their version of reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, known as the Aim Higher Act. Read our statement applauding some of the proposals.
**BREAKING** (Updated Friday, August 10, 2018)
ED has formally decided to repeal the Obama-era Gainful Employment regulations entirely. In a notice of proposed rulemaking published on Friday, ED plans to remove the current accountability metrics and consequence framework for certain programs that were subject to the regulation. Instead, ED will publish additional program-level outcome data to the College Scorecard but will take no action against institutions who have poor outcomes. The temporary notice does not state when the official proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register, but we will have more analysis of this rule in next week’s Higher Education Roundup.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the federal entity responsible for collecting and analyzing data about education, wrote in a blog post that between 2000 – 2016, there has been an increase in average student loan debt for Masters and Doctorate degree holders. Specifically, NCES noted that for those obtaining a law degree, the average debt increased by 77 percent from $82,400 to $145,500. You can read more detailed analysis in its full post: Trends in Student Loan Debt for Graduate School Completers.
News You Can Use
At the American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2018 Annual Meeting, the House of Delegates withdrew an amendment that would have ended the requirement that accredited law schools use admissions tests. The ABA did approve other measures including standards related to distance education, clinics and field placements.
A new poll conducted by Americans for Financial Reform and the Center for Responsible Lending found that majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents see student loan debt as a crisis. The poll also showed majorities of all three groups were concerned with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s recent actions that could reduce student loan borrower protections.
Third Way released a report finding that “students who complete college are more likely to begin paying down their loans than those who don’t.” The report also noted that “student borrowers who drop out with debt and no degree are three times more likely than graduates to default on their loans.”
The following bill(s) have been recently introduced for consideration by the 115th Congress (2017-2018):
H.R. 6579 – Recent Graduates in Start-Ups and Innovation Act [Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA-31)] would create a program to allow a no-interest deferment of federal student loans for recent college graduates who open a small business or innovative start-up in a designated Opportunity Zone.
H.R. 6588 – *No Short Title* [Rep. Luis Correa (D-CA-46)] would allow an individual debtor to discharge certain educational loans and educational benefits received by the debtor more than 5 years before the commencement of the bankruptcy case.
S. 3320 – Protecting Seniors with Student Loans Act [Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)] would increase the amount of Social Security benefits protected from wage garnishment from $750 monthly limit to $1,183 (2018) and be annually adjusted for inflation.