This Week In Washington
On Wednesday, a House Appropriations subcommittee held a hearing entitled Protecting Student Borrowers: Loan Servicing Oversight. The hearing was in response to the Inspector General’s (IG) recently released report about the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) failures in overseeing federal student loan servicers. Democrats on the committee focused on how problems arose and what could be done to fix them, while Republicans asked questions about when the problems started, pointing the finger at the previous administration. ED has already agreed to implement the IG’s recommendations to improve oversight. You can watch the hearing here.
On Monday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appointed Mark Brown to be the Chief Operating Officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). Mr. Brown will now manage all the federal student aid programs, including the federal Direct Loan program. He served as the Chief Financial Officer of the Air Force Material Command prior to this appointment. Mr. Brown, who replaces current acting director Jim Manning, is the fourth person appointed to head FSA in just under two years.
News You Can Use
The Institute for College Access & Success released a new issue brief focused on steps institutions can take to help financially vulnerable students succeed, such as changing internal policies around federal loan borrowing and penalties for outstanding student balances.
According to a POLITICO analysis, in the 116th Congress, Democrats tend to have more formal education than their Republican counterparts. For legal education specifically, nearly half of Democrats in Congress have a law degree, while about a third of Republicans received a J.D.
The following bill(s) have been recently introduced for consideration by the 116th Congress (2019-2020):
S. 608| H.R. 1430 – Court Legal Access & Student Support (CLASS) Act [Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) et al. | Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA-43)] would prohibit any school receiving Title IV student aid from placing restrictions on students’ ability to pursue legal claims, individually or with others, against higher education institutions in court.
S. 609 – Protecting Jobs Opportunities for Borrowers (Protecting JOBs) Act [Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) / Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)] 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. Read AccessLex Institute’s letter of support for the bill here.
S. 672 | H.R. 1571 – Debt-Free College Act [Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) | Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI-2)] would create federal-state partnerships to enable students attending in-state public institutions to do so without taking on debt, make DREAMer students eligible for Pell Grants and tweak several other higher education laws and regulations.