E-Update for the Week of May 23, 2022

Please note that in light of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday, EducationCounsel will not publish the next E-Update until June 3, 2022.
Highlights:

On May 13, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced in a letter to AASA, the School Superintendents Association, that school districts, working with their state educational agencies (SEAs) to apply for a waiver request to USED, may be provided an additional 18 months to spend their American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funds beyond the end of the obligation period for school infrastructure projects.
On May 18, the House Education and Labor Committee held a markup on a series of education-related bills.
On May 19, the House Oversight Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee held a hearing titled, “Free Speech Under Attack (Part II): Curriculum Sabotage and Classroom Censorship,” the Subcommittee’s second hearing addressing the “escalating assault” on free speech in K-12 classrooms.

Administration:
White House:
White House holds conversation on youth mental health: On May 18, the White House held a conversation on youth mental health, featuring remarks from First Lady Jill Biden, U.S. Surgeon […]

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E-Update for the Week of May 16, 2022

Highlights:

On May 9, the White House announced that it has secured an agreement with twenty internet providers to increase internet speeds while lowering costs for low-income households.
On May 12, a conference committee meeting was held on the America Competes Act (H.R. 4521) to begin to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bills.
On May 16, the House Rules Committee will meet to consider H.R. 7309, the “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act [WIOA] of 2022.” The bill is likely to then move to full consideration by the House.

Administration:
White House:
White House expands access to high-speed, affordable internet service for low-income Americans: On May 9, the White House announced that it has secured an agreement with twenty internet providers to increase internet speeds while lowering costs for low-income households. According to the Biden Administration, the commitments will allow “tens of millions” of households to receive high-speed internet at no cost as part of the new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which was established in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (P.L. 117-58). The program will allow eligible households – which the […]

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E-Update for the Week of May 9, 2022

Highlights:

On May 4, Politico reported the U.S. Department of Education (USED) is considering issuing guidance that could extend the timeline by which districts must spend American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) funding on school construction and infrastructure improvements.
On May 5, Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) led a bipartisan letter to USED Secretary Miguel Cardona expressing their concerns about a proposed rule that would adjust how charter schools apply for and spend funding from the Charter School Program (CSP).
On May 6, USED’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced plans to solicit public comments on possible adjustments to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the landmark disability civil rights law.

Administration:
White House:
President Biden considering $125,000 incoming cap for student debt relief: On May 3, the White House confirmed President Biden is considering limiting any student debt cancellation to borrowers making less than $125,000 a year. Previously, President Biden announced he would soon take executive action to forgive “some” student debt, though he ruled out forgiving $50,000 per borrower, a request many […]

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E-Update for the Week of May 2, 2022

Highlights:

On April 21, the Office of Head Start, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced that it will expand eligibility criteria for Head Start Programs to include children who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
On April 27, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) hosted an American Rescue Plan (ARP) Recovery Summit, in partnership with the National Public Education Support Fund (NPESF), titled, “From Recovery to Thriving: How the American Rescue Plan is Supporting America’s Students.”
On April 28, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing with USED Secretary Miguel Cardona to examine the President’s budget request for USED in fiscal year (FY) 2023.

Administration:
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED expands Second Chance Pell pilot and actions to help incarcerated individuals with defaulted loans: On April 26, USED announced that it had invited 73 colleges and universities to participate in the Second Chance Pell Pilot program, an initiative that allows incarcerated students to access Federal Pell Grants to pay for their college education. This expansion of […]

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E-Update for the Week of April 25, 2022

Highlights:

On April 19, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced changes to federal student loan repayment plans, including public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) and income-driven repayment (IDR) programs, in a move to improve existing avenues for borrowers to have loans forgiven.
On April 18, House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to USED expressing concern over its proposed rule regarding the charter school programs (CSP) grants.

Non-Coronavirus Updates:
Administration:
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED announces reforms to improve student loan forgiveness programs, including through income-based repayment plans: On April 19, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced changes to federal student loan repayment plans, including public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) and income-driven repayment (IDR) programs. The Department explained the changes are intended to improve avenues to student loan forgiveness for millions of borrowers, and would address “historical failures” in the administration of the federal student loan program. In its announcement, the Department said it would make a one-time adjustment to borrowers’ accounts to count credit toward loan forgiveness under IDR and PSLF programs for any […]

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E-Update for the Week of April 18, 2022

Highlights:

On April 14, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) released its inaugural equity action plan, fulfilling a requirement of President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.
On April 12, USED published a notice in the Federal Register extending the comment period for a proposed rule related to the Charter Schools Program (CSP). Comments will be accepted until April 18.

Non-Coronavirus Updates:
Administration:
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED releases equity action plan fulfilling part of President Biden’s racial equity Executive Order: On April 14, USED released its inaugural equity action plan, fulfilling a requirement of President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The plan outlines efforts USED says it will take to both advance ongoing pandemic recovery efforts and remedy long-standing disparities underserved communities and students face in achieving equal education opportunities. These efforts include prioritizing access to and completion of an education beyond high school; ensuring equitable impact of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to support K-12 students; investing in […]

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E-Update for the Week of April 11, 2022

Highlights:

On April 4, a group of Senate Democrats and Republicans announced they reached an agreement on a plan to provide an additional $10 billion in COVID-19 relief primarily for therapeutics, testing, and vaccine distribution, which will be offset by unspent funds from prior coronavirus relief bills, including funding for higher education. The agreement is currently stalled over a non-related immigration issue.
On April 4, the Biden Administration announced an “Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure,” an initiative that aims to “upgrade” the nation’s public schools with modern, clean, energy efficient facilities and transportation, while helping districts lower energy costs.
On April 6, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing titled, “Social and Emotional Learning and Whole Child Approaches in K-12 Education.”

Budget & Appropriations:
Senate pandemic aid deal would cut $500 million from higher education pandemic funding, as USED extends deadline to spend Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) funds: On April 4, Senate Democrats and Republicans announced they reached an agreement on a plan to provide an additional $10 billion in […]

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E-Update for the Week of April 4, 2022

Highlights:

On March 28, President Biden released his fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request, which includes $88.327 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Education (USED), a $11.9 billion or 15.6% increase over the FY2022 level.
On March 28, USED Secretary Miguel Cardona issued a nationwide call to action for states, districts, and higher education leaders to use American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to address the teacher shortage and aid student recovery.
On March 31, the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor/HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee held a hearing to examine the President’s budget request for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) for FY2023, during which HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra testified.

Budget & Appropriations:
President Biden releases his FY2023 budget request: On March 28, President Biden released his FY2023 budget request, which includes $88.327 billion in funding for USED, a $11.9 billion or 15.6% increase over the FY2022 level. The largest increases in the USED budget request are proposed for the core programs — Title I, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Pell Grants (See below). Additionally, […]

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E-Update for the Week of March 28, 2022

Highlights:

On March 28, the Biden Administration is expected to release its Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget request, which will include proposed appropriations for all federal agencies, including USED. The budget will be released here. Relatedly, at 3:00 pm on March 28, USED will hold a budget briefing. The briefing will be livestreamed here.
On March 22, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing titled, “Child Care and Preschool: Cutting Costs for Working Families.” During the hearing, witnesses spoke to the need for families and children to have access to high-quality, affordable child care and preschool services, as well as the ongoing challenges facing the child care industry.
On March 24, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Miguel Cardona sent a letter to educators and parents regarding new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and their impact on children with disabilities.

Coronavirus Updates (as related to education):
Administration:
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
USED Secretary Cardona holds roundtable with faith leaders in New York: On March 18, USED Secretary Miguel Cardona held a roundtable discussion […]

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E-Update for the Week of March 21, 2022

Highlights:

On March 16, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced on that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have recently experienced a bomb threat are eligible to apply for grant funds under the Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) program. Relatedly, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing on federal support for HBCUs facing violent threats on March 17.
On March 16, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senate HELP Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) called on the Biden Administration to extend the pause on federal student loan payments through at least the end of the year.
During the week of March 14, USED held its third and final Negotiated Rulemaking session covering institutional accountability topics such as gainful employment, the Ability to Benefit (ATB) provision, changes in ownership, and recent statutory changes to the 90/10 revenue rule for proprietary institutions.

Nominations and Personnel:
President Biden announces nominee for Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education: On March 18, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Dr. Nasser Paydar for Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at […]

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