This Week In Washington
This week, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released an audit report slamming ED for its lack of proper oversight of federal student loan servicers. The OIG found that when working with servicers, the Office of Federal Student Aid “did not track all identified instances of noncompliance and rarely held servicers accountable for noncompliance with requirements.” The OIG recommended ED “use the records to identify trends and recurring noncompliance for each servicer and across all servicers” and to “use the contractual accountability provisions available … to hold servicers accountable.” Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the ranking member on the Senate education committee, added that the “report reveals outrageous mismanagement of the federal student loan program and a pattern of failure by student loan companies that receive taxpayer dollars.” ED disagreed with the overall conclusion of the audit, but agreed with the report’s recommendations. ED now has 30 days to “develop a final corrective action plan … [that sets] forth the specific action items and targeted completion dates.”
This week, both sides made their closing arguments in the case of Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, wrapping up the four-month trial. Recall, this case is about, as the plaintiffs allege, whether Harvard University discriminated against Asian-Americans in its admissions practices. Recall also that the U.S. Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest (similar to an amicus curiae brief) in support of the plaintiffs. This case is being watched closely as a possible vehicle to relitigate affirmative action in the U.S. Supreme Court, where opponents believe the new conservative majority will strike down race-based admissions policies. A decision in this trial is expected in the coming weeks.
News You Can Use
A new report by the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project explains the downsides of student loan repayment through mandatory payroll withholding.
For the second consecutive year, the number of international students applying to U.S. graduate schools decreased, according to the Council of Graduate Schools (see also: POLITICO visualization ),which fears that there may have been a “negative impact to the U.S.’s image as a welcoming destination for international students and scholars.”
The following bill(s) have been recently introduced for consideration by the 116th Congress (2019-2020):
H.R. 1054 / S. 461 – HBCU PARTNERS Act [Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12) et al. | Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) et al.] would “require federal agencies with relevant grants and programs to undertake annual planning and coordinate their efforts to support and expand HBCU participation [in] those programs.”
H.R. 1070 – Student Loan Interest Tax Deduction Expansion Act [Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI-1)] would increase the maximum tax deduction on student loan interest, and increase the maximum allowable income to claim the deduction, for individuals and joint filers.
H.R. 1075 / S. 416 – FAFSA Fairness Act of 2019 [Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD-07 et al.| Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) et. al.] would “simplify the process to apply for and receive federal student financial aid for students who do not have contact with their parents.”
S.448 – Graduate Student Savings Act of 2019 [Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) et al.] would allow funds from a graduate student’s stipend or fellowship to be deposited into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).