E-Update for the Week of December 17, 2018
- On December 12, the House passed the conference report for H.R.2, the “Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018,” otherwise known as the “farm bill.” On December 11, the Senate passed the conference report. The bill, as agreed to in the conference report, does not include stricter work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) and does not significantly change the program.
- On December 13, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Democratic committee membership for the 116th Congress. Notably, Senator-elect Jacky Rosen (D-NV) will replace Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Current HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) will maintain her role as Ranking Member of the Committee.
- On December 13, POLITICO reported that USED will discharge the loans of 15,000 student borrowers who qualify for “closed school” loan discharges. The Department will discharge, in total, $150 million for the loans. According to POLITICO, the Department will notify students via email and students will not have to take any action in order to complete the loan discharge.
CBO recommends cutting Head Start, loan forgiveness programs to reduce Federal deficit: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its annual “Options for Reducing the Deficit” report. The report outlines various options that Congress can take in order to reduce the federal deficit over the next 10 years. Various education related options regarding mandatory spending include eliminating or reducing the add-on to Pell grants; limiting forgiveness of graduate student loans; reducing or eliminating subsidized student loans; reducing or eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program; removing the cap on interest rates for student loans; and eliminating subsidies for certain meals in the national school lunch and school breakfast programs. Additionally, the report included the option to reduce discretionary spending by eliminating federal funding for the National Community Service and by eliminating Head Start. The full report is here.
December 13, 2018
Congress passes Juvenile Justice Reform Act: The House passed H.R.6964, the “Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018.” The bill reauthorizes and reforms the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). On December 12, the Senate passed the bill. The bill will now be sent to President Donald Trump for his signature. Major components of the bill include requiring states to collect data on racial disparities in juvenile justice systems and for states to develop plans on how they will address such disparities; will require judges to consider if it is in the best interest of a juvenile awaiting an adult trial to be held in an adult facility; and will reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act through 2020. The law had not been reauthorized since 2007. A statement from House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here. A statement from House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here.
December 13, 2018
Congress passes farm bill, no major changes to SNAP benefits: The House passed the conference report for H.R.2, the “Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018,” otherwise known as the “farm bill.” On December 11, the Senate passed the conference report. The bill will now be sent to President Trump for his signature. The bill had been undergoing months of negotiations due to the prospective addition of stricter work requirements for individuals receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The bill, as agreed to in the conference report, does not include such requirements and does not significantly change the program. The bill is here.
December 12, 2018
Warren, Bonamici call for rescission of federal approval for for-profit accreditor: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to rescind the federal recognition of the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). The Congresswomen outline evidence they collected that demonstrates the Department ignored “major red flags” when deciding to provide federal recognition to the accreditor. Specifically, the Congresswomen provide evidence that shows the Department did not find adequate peer support for ACICS, including finding that four out of the five agencies the Department described as having supported ACICS denied issuing statements of support for the accreditor. A press release is here.
December 12, 2018
Rosen to replace Bennett on Senate HELP Committee: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Democratic committee membership for the 116th Congress. Notably, Senator-elect Jacky Rosen (D-NV) will replace Senator Michael Bennett (D-CO) on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Current HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) will maintain her role as Ranking Member of the Committee. The Senate Appropriations Committee will maintain the same Democratic membership as well. The full list of committees and their Democratic members is here.
December 13, 2018
Feinstein, Harris call for DeVos to respond to for-profit college operator closure: Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) sent a letter to USED Secretary DeVos requesting the Department provide more information on how it plans to support students affected by the recent closure of Education Corporation of America. The for-profit college operator suddenly closed last week leaving approximately 20,000 students without an option to continue their education. The Senators urged the Department to describe how they will support students in making “informed choices among their opportunities to complete their education” and how they can receive a “closed school discharge” of their loans. The full letter is here.
December 11, 2018
Murray submits comment on proposed public charge regulation: HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) submitted a public comment regarding the Department of Homeland Security’s recently published regulation regarding public charge and proposed changes. The proposed regulation would require that an immigrant’s use or potential use of public benefits be considered when applying for citizenship. “This deeply misguided policy will not ensure ‘self-sufficiency’ among immigrants, nor will it help hospitals, which will see a further rise in costs and frequency of emergency care that will result from the drop in use and accessibility of preventive services,” stated the Ranking Member in her comment. A press release is here. The full comment is here.
Additionally, House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) provided a public comment on the proposed regulation. Their joint comment is here.
December 10, 2018
Scott, Lowey announced as committee chairs for 116th Congress: Speaker-designate of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), on behalf of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, announced committee chairs for the 116th Congress. Current Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee Bobby Scott (D-VA) will be the Chairman of the Education and the Labor Committee (renamed). A statement by Speaker-designate Pelosi is here.
Relatedly, current Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee Nita Lowey (D-NY) was announced as the Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee. A statement by Chairwoman-designate Lowey is here.
December 10 and 12, 2018
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED to forgive $150 million in student loans: POLITICO reported that USED will discharge the loans of 15,000 student borrowers who qualify for “closed school” loan discharges. The Department will discharge, in total, $150 million for the loans. According to POLITICO, the Department will notify students via email and students will not have to take any action in order to complete the loan discharge. HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) stated the action is “a good first step, but it’s not enough.” The Ranking Member urged Secretary DeVos to cancel the proposed rewriting of the borrower defense rule. The POLITICO article is here. A press release by Ranking Member Murray is here.
December 13, 2018
USED to reconsider TEACH grant conversions: USED published on the Federal Student Aid website a notice that the Department is finalizing a process for TEACH Grant recipients to request reconsideration of their grant conversions to Direct Unsubsidized loans. The notice describes that TEACH Grant recipients will be able to request a reconsideration if the recipient met or is meeting the service requirements within the eight-year service obligation period but had failed to comply with the annual certification requirement. Additionally, the notice indicates the Department will adopt a standardized annual certification date for all grant recipients beginning in 2019. Annual certification will occur on October 31 for all recipients. The notice is here.
December 10, 2018
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB):
CFPB allegedly buried report on student credit card fees: POLITICO reported an unpublished report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that analyzed student use of college-sponsored deposit and pre-paid accounts, such as debit cards. POLITICO received the report via a Freedom of Information Act request. The report analyzed the financial products offered by companies who agreements with colleges across the country. The report analyzed 14 companies, who maintain more than 500 agreements. Based on the report, the CFPB found that students were paying up to almost $50 in annual fees for such products, costing a total of $27.6 million in fees. According to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) regulations, companies and colleges are required to make sure the products promoted on campus are “not inconsistent with the best financial interest” of students. Additionally, the report found that students paid three times more in average fees when the company had paid the college to promote products on campus, which the report highlights as a potential conflict of interest. The report was completed in February 2018 but was never made public after being shared with USED. The full POLITICO article is here. The letter is here (POLITICO Pro subscription required).
Relatedly, Chairwoman-expected of the House Financial Services Committee Maxine Waters (D-CA) released a statement in response to the report, in which she indicated she would make the content of the report a focus of her oversight efforts during the 116th Congress. “I intend to get to the bottom of this matter and hold the Trump Administration accountable for any actions that have harmed student borrowers and America’s consumers,” she stated. The full press release is here.
December 10 and 12, 2018
Publications (Congressional and Administration):
- On December 12, the National Center for Educational Statistics released a report titled, “Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 2018.” The report analyzes data on student completion and compares to historical data. Key findings of the report include that high school completion increased to 92.9 percent, compared to 83.5 percent in 1976; that there were 532,000 students aged 15 to 24 who dropped out of high school; that students identifying as American Indian or Alaska Native had the highest rate of dropping out (11.0 percent); and there was a narrowing of the completion gap between White and Black students. The full report is here.
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On December 13, the Bipartisan Policy Center released a report titled, “Creating an Integrated Efficient Early Care and Education System to Support Children and Families: A State-by-State Analysis.” The report analyzed state practices as to how they integrated and combined early childhood education programs to improve their respective early childhood systems. Key findings of the report include identifying that Maryland, Washington, D.C., Arkansas, Georgia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Louisiana, Montana, and Washington were the ten best states to have developed an integrative system of early childhood education. The full report is here.
- On December 13, the Center For American Progress (CAP) released a report titled, “Early Childhood Agenda for Governors in 2019.” The report is a series of recommendations for incoming governors to consider as they develop their early childhood agendas. The report recommends that governors discuss early childhood in State of the State addresses; include early childhood investments in budget proposals; raise public awareness about the current early childhood landscape; and build a governing structure that supports early childhood. The full report and its recommendations is here.
- On December 12, the College Board’s Access and Diversity Collaborative (ADC) released Understanding Holistic Review in Higher Education Admissions: Guiding Principles and Model Illustrations, which provides insights into the logic, rigor, and fairness behind effective holistic review in higher education admissions. The guide endeavors to open the perceived “black box” of admissions decision-making by outlining key features and elements of well-designed holistic review policy development and process management. It provides institutional examples and promising models that illustrate effective and sustainable practices (including illustrations of holistic review practices upheld over the course of four decades of federal court litigation and in U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights enforcement activity). The guide also calls on the higher education community to think differently about transparency and communications associated with holistic review in admissions. The full guide is here.
- On December 6, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report titled, “America’s Child Care Deserts in 2018.” The report analyzes the supply of child care in the United States and identifies areas that are considered “child care deserts.” Such areas are those that have an insufficient supply of licensed child care providers. Key findings of the report include identifying that 51 percent of Americans live in neighborhoods classified as child care deserts; that families in rural areas face the greatest challenge in finding licensed child care; that Hispanic and Latino families disproportionately live in child care deserts compared to other racial populations; and that child care deserts have a maternal labor force 3 percent lower than those with adequate child care supplies. The full report is here.
Upcoming Events (Congressional & Administration):
- On January 14-16, February 19-22, and March 25-28, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, the Accreditation and Innovation Negotiated Rulemaking committee will meet in Washington, D.C. USED will publish a separate notice in the Federal Register to announce the location of the meeting. The rulemaking committee announcement is here.
- On January 17-18, February 12-13, and March 11-12, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, the Distance Learning and Educational Innovation Subcommittee for the Accreditation and Innovation rulemaking committee will meet in Washington, D.C. USED will publish a separate notice in the Federal Register to announce the location of the meeting. The rulemaking committee announcement is here.
- On January 17-18, February 12-13, and March 11-12, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, the Faith-Based Entities Subcommittee for the Accreditation and Innovation rulemaking committee will meet in Washington, D.C. USED will publish a separate notice in the Federal Register to announce the location of the meeting. The rulemaking committee announcement is here.
- On January 17-18, February 12-13, and March 11-12, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, the TEACH Grants Subcommittee for the Accreditation and Innovation rulemaking committee will meet in Washington, D.C. USED will publish a separate notice in the Federal Register to announce the location of the meeting. The rulemaking committee announcement is here.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On December 17 at 4:00 pm, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is hosting an event titled, “How to expand apprenticeships: What Europe can teach the US.” The event will examine apprenticeship programs in Europe, specifically the Swiss and German systems. The discussion will analyze the applicability of the systems to the US labor market. More information and registration are here.
“Student Rights Act of 2018”
Sponsor: Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide basic and emergency supplemental living assistance grants under the student support services program.
Sponsor: Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL)
A bill to establish dual language education programs in low-income communities.
Sponsor: Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Opportunity Act to restrict institutions of higher education from using revenues derived from Federal educational assistance funds for advertising, marketing, or recruiting purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
A bill to improve the financial literacy of secondary school students.
Sponsor: Senator Doug Jones (D-AL)