This Week In Washington
This week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee conducted a hearing entitled “Examining For-Profit College Oversight and Student Debt,” and the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing about minority serving institutions. At the oversight hearing, lawmakers sparred with U.S. Department of Education (ED) officials over their continued support for schools that demonstrate poor outcomes. Meanwhile, at the education committee hearing, lawmakers called for additional investment in minority-serving institutions. Although the topics at each of the hearings were distinct, both addressed the need for accountability at institutions, and lawmakers reiterated the need to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. You can watch a replay of the oversight hearing here and the education and labor hearing here.
On Tuesday, ED released an update to the College Scorecard, the student-facing website that provides information about postsecondary institutions (although it does not include graduate schools). According to ED, the tool “now includes information on 2,100 additional postsecondary education options and more comprehensive information about graduation rates.” ED also released preliminary information about student loan debt by field of study and is asking institutions to double-check the data by the end of summer. (This information does include graduate schools.) This update comes in response to a higher education Executive Order signed earlier this year. Additional data is expected to be required under a rewrite of the Gainful Employment regulations.
News You Can Use
POLITICO (subscription required) examined the challenges facing implementation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and provided an overview of the current politics around trying to craft fixes to the program.
The American Bar Association’s accreditation council enacted a new bar passage standard for law schools, requiring that at least 75 percent of a school’s graduates who sit for the bar pass it within two years—a change from the previous standard that allowed five years.
The following bill(s) have been recently introduced for consideration by the 116th Congress (2019-2020):
H.R. 2833 – CFPB Student Loan Integrity & Transparency Act of 2019 [Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA-45) et al.] would require ED and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to share information, compel student loan servicers to work with the CFPB’s Ombudsman, and increase the Ombudsman’s office staff. H.R. 2833 is the House companion bill to S. 720, which was previously introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM).
S. 1496 – Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act [Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) et al.] would require annual counseling for all recipients of federal student aid, expand exit counseling requirements and direct ED to maintain a consumer-tested online counseling tool. S. 1496 is the Senate companion bill to H.R. 2129, which was previously introduced by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY-2).
S. 1525 – Student Protection and Success Act [Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Sen. Todd Young (R-IN)] would remove federal student loan eligibility from all colleges and universities where less than 15 percent of their students are able to begin repaying their loans within three years of graduating or leaving school. The bill would also require schools to pay a fee based on the total loan volume their students are not able to repay.