This Week In Washington
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) will miss the November 1st deadline for publication of new Borrower Defense to Repayment (DTR) and Gainful Employment (GE) final rules, thus delaying implementation of the rules. Bloomberg first reported that ED was delaying DTR because there were over 38,000 public comments made about the regulations, and ED was “committed to taking the time that is necessary to review those comments and make sure we get it right.” Subsequently, ED disclosed the delay in a court filing related to a case in which ED is being sued over the Obama-era DTR regulations that never went into effect.
Further complicating matters is that the initial delay of the Obama-era DTR regulations was recently voided by a federal judge, calling the delay unlawful and procedurally invalid. Recall, the judge then gave ED until October 12th to produce a new reason to justify the initial delay. If ED does not meet that deadline or the judge finds its reason lacking, the Obama-era DTR regulations could immediately take effect. Given the delay in implementing a new DTR rule, the Obama-era regulations could be in place until at least July 1, 2020, provided nothing else delays the rewritten rules further.
Repeal of the GE regulations will also be delayed due to ED missing the November 1st deadline for implementation in 2019. However, because a data sharing agreement between ED and the Social Security Administration expired in May, ED cannot collect the earnings data required under the current GE rule. Bloomberg also obtained ED’s request to continue the data sharing agreement, but it has apparently not been acted on.
POLITICO is reporting (subscription required) that ED Inspector General (IG) Kathleen Tighe will retire at the end of November. The inspector general is the independent watchdog that investigates fraud, abuse and other problems at ED and institutions that receive federal funding. President Trump will not have the ability to nominate a replacement to lead the IG’s office at ED; however, confirmation could be in jeopardy if Democrats retake the Senate as many of them have been critical of the administration’s policies and leadership at ED.
House Republicans have returned home to their districts two weeks early and will not return until the week after the mid-term elections. The Senate is still following its regular schedule and will be in session for most of October. This means that all legislating will effectively cease for the next six weeks, and any major Congressional to-do’s will have to wait until the third week in November.
News You Can Use
Student loan debt is worsening wealth inequality between white and black Americans, as racial disparities persist in student loan borrowing and successful repayment.
Urban Institute published a research brief examining the return on investment of higher education to students and taxpayers at the state level. The researchers suggest that state policymakers consider mitigating risks for students and improving outcomes for specific student subpopulations.
Student loan delinquency rates vary considerably by state, but states with the highest debt levels don’t have the highest delinquency rates.
No relevant bills have been recently introduced for consideration by the 115th Congress.