E-Update for the Week of April 22, 2019
- On April 15, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS). The letter, addressed to Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), requesting the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Labor/HHS appropriations bill include language that directs the U.S. Department of Education (USED) as it relates to the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (TEPSLF).
- On April 15, USED published draft consensus language from the negotiated rulemaking committees regarding various rules for the Higher Education Act. The public will be given an opportunity to comment on the notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs); any final regulations published before November 1, 2019 will become effective July 1, 2020 and any final regulations published on or after November 1, 2019 will become effective July 1, 2021.
- On April 15, the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Office released a set of recommendations for what colleges and universities should and should not do when issuing financial aid offers. The office “feels strongly” that the recommendations will “improve clarity, transparency, and basic understandability of financial aid offers” for students and families.
The Senate was in recess this week. The Senate will resume session on Monday, April 29.
Warren, Kaine urge appropriators to address temporary Public Service Loan Forgiveness expansion program in FY2020: Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS). The letter, addressed to Subcommittee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), requesting the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Labor/HHS appropriations bill include language that directs the U.S. Department of Education (USED) as it relates to the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (TEPSLF). The letter urges the Subcommittee to include language that would reduce the “bureaucratic” burdens imposed by the Department in order for more borrowers to receive relief under the program. The full letter is here. A press release from Senator Warren is here.
April 15, 2019
The House was in recess this week. The House will resume session on Monday, April 29.
Trump expects $100 billion privately invested in Opportunity Zones, White House releases implementation plan for economic revitalization council: On April 17, President Donald Trump delivered remarks to the Opportunity Zone Conference with State, Local, Tribal, and Community Leaders. Within his remarks, the President discussed the potential that Opportunity Zones have to increase investment within low resource communities, with the goal of positively impacting the residents of such communities. “Our goal is to rebuild homes, schools, businesses, and communities that need it the most,” stated the President. Further, the President described that property sale prices have already increased within Opportunity Zones, and stated that U.S. Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin estimates $100 billion will be privately invested in these areas. The President’s full remarks are here.
Relatedly, the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council published its “Implementation Plan.” The plan is in accordance with the Executive Order from December 2018 that established the council, and explains how the council will implement “administrative reforms and initiatives that will target, streamline, coordinate, and optimize Federal resources in economically distressed communities, including Opportunity Zones.” The plan will focus on five workstreams – 1) economic development; 2) entrepreneurship; 3) safe neighborhoods; 4) education and workforce development; and 5) measurement. The implementation plan is here. A press release from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is here.
April 17, 2019
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
Kentucky school district receives second Project SERV award: USED announced Marshall County School District (MCSD) in Kentucky has been awarded a second Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grant. The grant is intended to assist the school in its “continued recovery efforts” after a school shooting within the district in January 2018. The Project SERV grant funds will be used to hire additional school resource officers, additional hall monitors, and a school nurse. Further, funds from the program will also help continue allowing students who are not ready to return to school to continue their online studies. A press release from the Department is here.
April 17, 2019
DeVos meets with Kentucky leaders, focuses on Education Freedom Scholarships: USED Secretary Betsy DeVos held a roundtable discussion with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and state Education Commission Wayne Lewis. The discussion was focused on the Secretary’s proposed Education Freedom Scholarship program and how the program would expand education options for students in Kentucky. “The sky is truly the limit as leaders here in Kentucky assess their students’ need and how best to utilize this additional money to meet those needs,’ the Secretary stated. The Secretary plans to continue holding roundtable discussions in order to “highlight the benefits of expanding education freedom through the Education Freedom Scholarships proposal.” A press release from the Department is here.
April 17, 2019
USED appoints acting general counsel: USED announced Reed Rubinstein as acting general counsel, a position vacated by Carlos Muniz. Rubinstein previously served as deputy associate attorney general with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The White House has not yet announced a nominee to serve as permanent general counsel. A POLITICO article is here.
April 16, 2019
Federal Student Aid office releases recommendations for financial aid offers, suggests not using ‘award’ to describe loans: The Federal Student Aid (FSA) Office released a set of recommendations for what colleges and universities should and should not do when issuing financial aid offers. FSA issued eight recommendations, which include the suggestion to avoid calling all financial aid an “award;” avoid issuing financial aid offers that do not include cost of attendance; breakdown cost of attendance into clear components, including food and housing and other costs; avoid bundling all financial aid (e.g. grants, scholarships, loans, work-study) together; include the source of all student loans; avoid including Parent PLUS loans with student loans; include critical next steps in the financial aid offer; and include the estimated net cost in the financial aid offer. The office “feels strongly” that the recommendations will “improve clarity, transparency, and basic understandability of financial aid offers” for students and families. The full set of recommendations is here.
April 15, 2019
USED higher education negotiated rulemaking committee releases draft consensus language: USED published draft consensus language from the negotiated rulemaking committees regarding various rules for the Higher Education Act. The topics under discussion included (1) revisions to requirements governing accreditors approving institutions to be eligible for the Federal student aid programs; (2) state authorization requirements, including for those programs offered via distance (online) education; (3) administrative requirements for those completing their teaching service associated with receipt of a TEACH grant; and (4) provisions governing religiously-affiliated institutions. As Committee reached consensus, USED is required to publish the agreed-upon draft regulatory language in one or more Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs). The public will be given an opportunity to comment on the notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs). Any final regulations published before November 1, 2019 will become effective July 1, 2020 and any final regulations published on or after November 1, 2019 will become effective July 1, 2021. The draft consensus language documents are here.
With respect to accreditation, the committee agreed to expand the window within which accreditors must resolve issues of institutional noncompliance from two years to four years. USED agreed to withdraw its proposal to expand the percentage of a program that can be offered by a non-institutional provider, opting instead to keep the current limit of 50 percent of a program rather than expanding to 100 percent of a program.
With respect to TEACH Grants, the committee agreed to ease the administrative requirements on recipients completing their teaching service by, for example, eliminating exceptions to qualifying employment and adding reconsideration for those whose grants have converted to loans. Finally, the committee agreed to maintain much of the existing requirements around state authorization, including provisions allowing for reciprocity agreements between states to ease compliance for institutions operating in multiple states.
April 15, 2019
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On April 17, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled, “Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2018.” The report is a summary of a NCES annual survey to assess crime and safety at schools and college campuses. Key findings of the report include identifying that heroin use among 8th grade students has decreased to 0.3 percent, 0.2 percent for 10th graders, and 0.4 percent for 12th graders; that there were 37 active shooter incidents at elementary and secondary schools since 2000 to 2017, and 15 incidents at postsecondary institutions; 99 percent of students age 12-18 reported they observed the use of at least one school safety and security measure at their schools in 2017; 20 percent of students age 12-18 reported being bullied at school; and about 6 percent of students age 12-18 reported being called hate-related words at school during the 2017 school year. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On April 18, Third Way published a report titled, “Using Instructional Spending to Test for Value in Higher Ed.” The report proposes using a measurement of instructional spending to illustrate the difference in resource allocation between high- and low-performing institutions of higher education. The report recommends that the data collected through the Integrated Postsecondary Educational Data System (IPEDS) Finance Survey, such as the “expenditures on instruction per full-time equivalent (FTE)” and the “net tuition per FTE” data, be used to estimate how much an institution spends on instructional activities. Further, the report recommends this data be made available to the public in an accessible manner so that prospective students can evaluate an institution based on this metric. The full report is here.
- On April 14, the Center for Advancing Opportunity published a report titled, “The State of Opportunity in America: Understanding Barriers & Identifying Solutions.” The report analyzes survey responses from individuals living in “fragile communities” across the country. Fragile communities are largely those located in areas of high concentrations of poverty. Key findings of the report include identifying that many residents of fragile communities struggle to fulfill basic, day-to-day needs for themselves and their families; about 40 percent of respondents claimed they have received Medicaid benefits in the past year; less than half of respondents say they are “extremely satisfied” or “satisfied” with their local public K-12 schools; and only 29 percent of respondents agree that all people in their communities have access to an affordable college education. The full report is here.
- On March 1, the Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences published in its March 2019 volume a report titled, “Voucher Pathways and Student Achievement in Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program.” The study examined the academic achievement in math and English for students that transitioned between public schools and private schools using the Indiana school voucher program. Key findings of the report include identifying that students who switch from public to private schools experience significant achievement losses; and that students who switch between private schools experience no significant change in achievement. The full report is here.
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On April 24 at Grossmont College in El Cajon, CA, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment jointly with the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity will conduct a field hearing titled, “Protecting Those Who Protect Us: Ensuring the Success of our Student Veterans.” More information is here.
- Not Official: On April 30, it is expected that the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) will mark up its fiscal year (FY) 2020 Labor/HHS Appropriations bill and report. A draft FY2020 House Labor/HHS Appropriations bill and report would likely be released prior to mark up.
- Not Official: On May 8, it is expected that the full House Appropriations Committee will mark up the FY2020 House Labor/HHS bill and report.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On April 23 at 1:00pm, the National Center on Education and the Economy is hosting an event titled, “Leading High-Performance School Systems: Lessons from the World’s Best.” The event will feature a panel discussion on what top-performing countries are doing to leverage high-quality school and district leadership to improve schools, and how lessons can be learned from them and applied to schools within the United States. More information and registration are here.
- On April 25 at 11:45am, the Shanker Institute and Rutgers Graduate School of Education are hosting an event titled, “Cutting Through the Clutter of School Finance Data & Research.” The event will discuss how school finance data can be more easily understood, how the data can be applied for policy-relevant matters, and how can the field move to a consensus on data collection processes. More information and registration are here.
- On April 25 at 9:00am, the Century Foundation is hosting an event titled, “Restoring the Promise of Community Colleges.” The event will feature a panel of experts and former USED Secretary of Education John B. King to discuss the challenges that American community colleges currently face, and how they can be improved. More information and registration are here.