E-Update for the Week of August 9, 2021
- On August 6, USED announced it will extend the current freeze on student loan repayment and interest accrual through January 31, 2022.
- On August 6, USED announced it will publish a notice in the Federal Register establishing a negotiated rulemaking committee to rewrite regulations for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, income-contingent repayment plans, and borrower defense to repayment, among other issues.
- On August 3, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee split evenly along party lines on a vote to advance the nomination of Catherine Lhamon to serve as U.S. Department of Education (USED) Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.
Biden Administration Transition:
Nominations and Personnel:
Lhamon nomination fails to attract bipartisan support in HELP Committee vote, path forward will require procedural move from Majority Leader Schumer: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee split evenly along party lines on a vote to advance the nomination of Catherine Lhamon to serve as U.S. Department of Education (USED) Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. The 11-11 vote means that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) must move through a procedural hurdle to discharge the nomination from Committee and hold additional debate before a confirmation vote on the Senate floor. A press release from Ranking Member Richard Burr (R-NC) is here.
August 3, 2021
Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
White House launches national effort to increase student vaccination rates before fall reopening: As part of the Biden Administration’s efforts to increase vaccination rates across the country, the White House announced several actions to support the vaccination of children in K-12 schools and students in college. The White House outlined recommended actions for schools and colleges such as incorporating the vaccine into sports physicals for student athletes; inviting pediatricians to schools’ “back to school nights;” and providing resources to schools and colleges to host pop-up vaccination clinics on campuses. As part of the initiative, the White House also announced a Back to School “Week of Action” between August 7 and 15, which will include several national events to spotlight the need to vaccinate before school resumes this fall. A press release is here.
August 5, 2021
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED extends student loan repayment freeze through January 31, 2022: USED announced it will extend the current freeze on student loan repayment and interest accrual through January 31, 2022. According to a statement from USED Secretary Miguel Cardona, the extended repayment freeze will “give students and borrowers the time they need to plan for restart and ensure a smooth pathway back to repayment.” According to Bloomberg News, who originally reported on the announcement, the Administration intends for this extension to be the final freeze and repayments will begin starting February 1, 2022.
August 6, 2021
NAEP to be readministered to 9 year-olds next year to gauge impact of pandemic: The National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), voted to amend the upcoming school year’s assessment schedule to replace the 2022 administration of the Long-Term Trend of 17-year-olds with 9-year-olds. In effect, the decision means that the same group of 9-year-olds that were tested just before the COVID-19 pandemic will be re-tested in 2022 in an effort to better assess the pandemic’s impact on student learning. A tweet announcing the decision is here.
August 5, 2021
Five more states have ARP ESSER spending plans approved, 29 states still awaiting approval: announced that it had approved plans for five additional states and their proposed use of American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding. With the approval of Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania, 22 states have now received both tranches of their ARP ESSER fund allocations. The remaining states will receive their remaining funds once the Department receives and approves their state plan. Six states still have yet to submit their draft plans to the Department. A list of approved state plans is here.
August 5, 2021
USED releases ‘roadmap’ to support school reopening for in-person learning: USED released the “Return to School Roadmap,” a resource to support students, schools, educators, and communities reopen for in-person learning during the upcoming school year. The guidance document includes three “landmark” priorities that USED is encouraging schools, districts, and communities to focus on as they enter the 2021-2022 school year, which include (1) prioritizing the health and safety of students, staff, and educators; (2) building school communities and supporting students’ social, emotional, and mental health; and (3) accelerating academic achievement. The document collates previously released tools and strategies to support schools, districts, and communities in advancing these priorities, and outlines how federal funding can be utilized to support a safe return to in-person learning. A press release from the Department is here. Remarks from a White House press conference where USED Secretary Cardona introduced the Roadmap and answered questions on school reopening are here.
August 2, 2021
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED seeking nominations for a Negotiated Rulemaking committee to address several student loan programs and regulations: USED announced it will publish a notice in the Federal Register establishing a negotiated rulemaking committee to rewrite regulations for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, income-contingent repayment plans, and borrower defense to repayment, among other issues. The committee will meet virtually beginning in October and will negotiate the regulations through the rest of the year. In the notice, USED solicits nominations for primary and alternative negotiators from various constituent groups, including dependent and independent students, student loan borrowers, state higher education executive officers, and public and private nonprofit institutions of higher education, amongst others. The Department is also “especially interested” in nominations that “represent the perspective of historically underserved and/or low-income communities.” A press release is here.
August 6, 2021
USED expands Second Chance Pell experimental program for next award year: USED announced that it will expand the Second Chance Pell pilot program for the 2022-2023 award year. With the expansion, a total of 200 colleges and university will be able to participate in the pilot program, an increase of 69 institutions from the previous award year. According to the Department, students who have participated in the program, which was initially launched by the Obama Administration in 2015, have earned a total of more than 7,000 credentials. The expansion of the Second Chance Pell experiment is a “crucial step toward the reinstatement of Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated students,” said Amy Loyd, Acting Assistant Secretary of USED’s Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education. A press release is here.
July 30, 2021
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- On August 11, 12 and 13 at 1:00 pm, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will hold an event titled, “Consumer Advisory Board Meeting.” The meeting will focus on a discussion of broad policy matters related to the Bureau’s Unified Regulatory Agenda, including recent Bureau initiatives related to the COVID-19 recovery and trends and themes in the mortgage, and student lending marketplace. More information and registration are here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On August 9 at 2:00 pm, Career Education Colleges and Universities will hold an event titled, “Clery Act Compliance Essentials for Career Schools.” The event will feature a conversation with a representative from USED’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) on Clery compliance from the postsecondary career school perspective. More information and registration are here.
- On August 12 at 6:00 pm, the Education Trust will hold a book release event titled, “Districts That Succeed: Breaking the Correlation Between Race, Poverty, and Achievement.” The event will feature a book talk focused on the work that educators in school districts around the country have done to ensure that teachers can teach, and students can learn. More information and registration are here.
Latest from EducationCounsel:
- Sean Worley and Scott Palmer wrote a blog post for the Wallace Foundation titled, “American Rescue Plan: Five Things State and District Leaders Need to Know Now.” The post provides a brief overview of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, key processes and timelines, and recommended actions that state and district leaders can take as they continue planning for how they will use their latest pandemic relief funding.
- On August 3, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) published a report titled, “One Year Later: Relationship Between 2015–16 Bachelor’s Degree Recipient Enrollment in Further Education and Pell Grant Receipt.” The report analyzes data from the 2016-17 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study to examine how Pell Grants for bachelor’s degrees relate to later education. Key findings include identifying that students who had a Pell Grant went on to master’s degree programs at higher rates (56 percent) than those who did not (50 percent); that overall, use of grants and scholarships in 2017 did not differ for students who had used and had not used Pell Grants for their bachelor’s degree; and that the majority of students who received a Pell Grant for their 2015-16 bachelor’s degree used federal loans to pay for their further education. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On August 5, the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) published a blog post titled, “Student Debt in Disguise: How Employers are Using Predatory Debt to Hurt Workers and Hold Back Competition.” In the post, SBPC urged consumer watchdogs and policymakers to protect borrowers from “training repayment agreements” (TRAs) and other predatory contract terms that are “21st century indentured servitude made possible through shadow student debt.” Other key findings from the report include that employers are “abusing purported opportunities” for learning and employee training requirements to make leaving a job “literally unaffordable”; that TRAs “unfairly protect” employers from labor market competition; and that employers “may be looking to shadow student debt” in the form of TRAs as a “replacement for noncompete clauses in employment contracts.” The full post is here.
- On August 4, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) published a report titled, “The $200 Billion Question: How Much of Federal COVID-19 Relief Funding for Schools Will Go to COVID-19 Relief?” The report explores the question of how much of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding will go toward reopening schools and COVID-19 recovery, as opposed to spending not directly related to the pandemic. The report considers ESSER funding provided from all three pandemic relief bills: the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA); and the ARP Act. Key findings include estimating that $78 to $123 billion could go toward non-COVID related spending; that the large federal investment, coupled with an “excess of unspent…funding,” could affect Democratic ambitions to provide a permanent increase in Title I funding; and that districts may struggle to avoid “ineffective, unnecessary, or otherwise undesirable” expenditures. The full report is here.
- On August 3, McKinsey & Company published a report titled, “How HBCUs Can Accelerate Black Economic Mobility.” The report explores the potential role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in fostering increased economic engagement amongst Black Americans. Key findings include identifying that strong HBCU networks could increase Black worker incomes by around $10 billion, in addition to strengthening the economy with $1.2 billion in incremental business profit, $300 million in decreased student-loan debt, and $1 billion in additional consumer expenditures. The full report is here.
- On August 3, the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) published a report titled, “How Much Have Students Missed Academically Because of the Pandemic? A Review of the Evidence to Date.” The report is part of a series that aims to provide a definitive account of the best available evidence on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected America’s students. In the report, experts reviewed studies that were gleaned from CRPE’s COVID-19 K-12 research database of more than 300 studies on the pandemic’s academic impacts. Key findings include identifying that test scores show that the average student mastered less academic content because of the pandemic; that other measures of instructional time, engagement, and academic progress strengthen the credibility of these findings; and that the pandemic’s average impacts on academic achievement, while significant, mask substantial variation in impacts across subjects, grades, demographic groups, and geography. The full report is here.
A bill to provide for emergency operational cost reimbursements for child nutrition programs for certain additional months, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC)
A bill to amend title 11 of the United States Code to modify the dischargeability of debts for certain educational payments and loans.
Sponsor: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
A bill to prohibit Federal funding for educational agencies and schools whose students do not read certain foundational texts of the United States and are not able to recite those texts or that teach that those texts are products of white supremacy or racism.
Sponsor: Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to improve Federal oversight of foreign funding in education.
Sponsor: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for Federal student loan reform.
Sponsor: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make college affordable and accessible by expanding access to dual or concurrent enrollment programs and early college high school programs.
Sponsor: Senator Gary Peters (D-MI)
A bill to amend the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program under the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Sponsor: Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to direct the Secretary of Education to issue guidance and recommendations for institutions of higher education on removing criminal and juvenile justice questions from their application for admissions process.
Sponsor: Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)
A bill to provide additional funding under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.
Sponsor: Senator Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM)