This Week In Washington
Both chambers of Congress are on recess this week.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration rescinded several pieces of federal guidance about using race as a factor in college admissions and public-school enrollment that were issued during the Obama administration. The notice revoking the guidance stated that the Obama-era interpretations “advocate[d] policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the Constitution.” This decision may leave institutions scrambling to understand how race can, if at all, be used in admissions. While the rescission makes no affirmative policy, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) did repost 2008 Bush-era guidance calling for race-blind admissions to its website late last week.
Last week, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), the number two Republican in the Senate, became a co-sponsor of the College Transparency Act, suggesting the current ban on collecting student-level data may be nearing its end. The CTA, as its commonly known, is a bipartisan bill in both chambers that would overturn the ban and expand access to critical higher education data for students, schools, and other stakeholders. The ban, crafted by the current chairwoman of the House education committee, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), has been in place since the last reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) in 2008, and was not repealed in the PROSPER Act despite broad pressure to do so. While HEA reauthorization may have come to a halt in this Congress, the CTA is likely to make an appearance whenever HEA is reauthorized. AccessLex Institute supports the bill and will continue to advocate for its passage.
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California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, is suing Navient, one of the country’s largest student loan servicers, alleging the company misled and deceived both private and federal student loan borrowers.
Mark Schneider, Director of ED’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), has pledged that the agency’s research and grantmaking priorities will focus more on higher education. Dr. Schneider was a distinguished panelist at AccessLex Institute’s Road To Repayment event on Capitol Hill last fall.
There were no student-aid related bills introduced this week in Congress.