This Week In Washington
On Tuesday, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) led 70 of her colleagues in sending a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos calling on her to “support student loan borrowers who are affected by the partial government shutdown.” The lawmakers draw attention to the potential impact the shutdown may have on furloughed workers that have federal student loans, including a potential lapse by those borrowers making qualifying payments toward the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. In the letter, the House members specifically ask the Secretary to “proactively reach out to federal employees to provide information about how to manage their student loan debt during the Trump government shutdown.”
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) published a blog post providing advice to furloughed workers about managing their student loans. ED described options to postpone payments through deferment and forbearance, and recommended federal workers enroll in income-driven repayment (IDR) programs. However, borrowers may not find these options desirable or advantageous. First, interest continues to accrue during forbearance and deferment of certain loans, and second, IDR can potentially take months before borrowers get enrolled.
ED began its first round of higher education negotiated rulemaking sessions this week. Negotiators discussed issues related to accreditation, distance learning, religious institutions and more. ED’s rationale for many of its proposed changes in these areas is to spur innovation and to increase flexibility in order to meet evolving labor market demands. The next session is scheduled for mid-February, and ED is expected to promulgate draft rules later in 2019.
News You Can Use
The American Bar Association’s (ABA) accreditation council is reportedly set to propose a new standard that would require law schools to ensure that 75 percent of their graduates who take the bar exam pass within two years of graduation—or risk losing ABA accreditation.
According to new Federal Reserve research, there was a drop in homeownership for people between the ages of 24 to 32 from 2005 to 2014, which can, in part, be attributed to student loan debt.
To help low-income and first generation students achieve in college, researchers recommend that institutions evaluate their university culture and help bridge resource and skill gaps.
Georgia State University offers an example of how predictive analytics systems and increased investments in student support services, like increasing the number or quality of academic advisers, can improve graduation rates.
No relevant student aid related bills have been recently introduced for consideration by the 116th Congress (2019-2020).