This Week In Washington
On Thursday, the Trump administration proposed a sweeping overhaul of how the federal government is organized. The plan, among other consolidations and eliminations, would merge the Department of Education (ED) and the Department of Labor into a single cabinet-level agency called the Department of Education and the Workforce (DEW). Under DEW, there would be a new agency known as the American Workforce and Higher Education Administration (AWHEA), which would be responsible for “ensuring that American workers possess the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce.” Under AWHEA, there would be a higher education component, that, among other mandates, would “complement Federal Student Aid’s customer-service focus and move to the Next Generation (Next Gen) Financial Services Environment.” These specific proposed changes would require Congressional action and are highly unlikely to advance beyond the proposal stage.
On Tuesday, House Republicans released their budget resolution for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 spending. This budget resolution calls for the House education committee to cut $20 billion over ten years from mandatory spending programs, which would include mostly federal financial aid programs. Regarding education funding cuts and policy, this resolution mirrors last year’s version that passed the House but was overwritten in the Senate. The House Budget committee held a two-day markup of the resolution this week where amendments to reduce or eliminate the education cuts were offered and voted down. Fortunately, the Senate has no interest in even passing a budget this year, so these cuts are not likely to be enacted. Should things change, we will keep you informed.
On Tuesday, the federal court that temporarily blocked ED from implementing its plan to provide partial forgiveness to students defrauded by institutions under existing Borrower Defense to Repayment regulations broadened its ruling to block ED’s current debt collection from these borrowers. Recall that in May, the judge ruled that ED’s implementation of a tiered forgiveness system violated a federal privacy law because of how ED obtained wage information. ED announced this new forgiveness model late last year after delaying the Obama-era Borrower Defense to Repayment regulations, and ED has subsequently renegotiated a new rule, which is expected to be released sometime soon.
News You Can Use
A new report from the American Enterprise Institute takes a look at graduate student loan repayment rates between 2009 and 2014. Among the types of graduate institutions with low student repayment rates are several large, private nonprofit and for-profit institutions, as well as historically black colleges and universities.
Third Way published a new report arguing that the lessons learned from No Child Left Behind regarding accountability can and should be applied to holding higher education institutions accountable for the outcomes of their students.
State Senator F. Ann Millner of Utah’s 18th District discusses the misunderstandings that lawmakers and college leaders have about one another in an interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The Center for American Progress released Beyond Tuition: Promises for Affordability, Quality, and Accountability in Higher Education, which sets out a series of proposals for making higher education more affordable, increasing quality, and improving the accountability system.
The following bill(s) have been recently introduced for consideration by the 115th Congress (2017-2018):
S. 3065 | H.R. 6156 – Protecting Jobs Opportunities for Borrowers (Protecting JOBs) Act [Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) / Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) | Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA-03) / Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI-1)] would prevent states from suspending, revoking, or denying state-issued professional licenses solely because borrowers may default or be delinquent on a federal student loan. NOTE: Read AccessLex Institute’s letters of support of this bill here.