With reauthorization of the Higher Education Act due for action, members of Congress unveil new proposals for the future of higher education on a continuous basis. NASFAA's series, The Capitol Recap, provides a monthly update on new pieces of legislation introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to provide aid administrators with the most up-to-date information for their offices and their own administration. Bills listed here, unless otherwise noted, have been referred to committee and are awaiting action or consideration.
For a complete list of legislation introduced in this session of Congress, visit the NASFAA Legislative Tracker.
- HR 1079, Campus Gun Policy Transparency Act: Introduced by Rep. Ellison (D-MN) on February 15, the bill would add information on campus firearm policies, specifically related to campus carry or open carry policies, to disclosures required for Clery Act compliance. In addition, institutions would be required to disclose these policies in a prominent location on their website and in admissions and recruitment materials.
- HR 1193, Financial Literacy to Financial Freedom Act: This bill, introduced by Rep. Trott (R-MI) on February 16, would allow institutions to mandate additional loan counseling. The counseling allowed in this bill would be in addition to current entrance counseling requirements. The bill would also require borrowers, including both parents and students, to sign a master promissory note, submit a written statement accepting the loan, or electronically sign a similar statement before loans can be disbursed. Providing aid administrators with the authority to mandate additional counseling has been a longtime NASFAA recommendation.
- S. 268, Investing in Student Success Act: Sponsored by Sen. Young (R-IN) and Sen. Rubio (R-FL) and covered in Today's News, this bill works to establish the legal and tax framework for income-share agreements (ISAs).
- HR 864, Stop Debt Collection Abuse Act: This bill amends the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to make clear that the protections from overly aggressive debt collection practices also apply to debt collection agents hired by the federal government, including for servicers of federal student loans. Rep. Love (R-UT) introduced this bill on February 3.
- HR 926, ASPIRE Act: This bill, the American Science Principal and Interest Reduction and Employment Act, would forgive 25% of the loan principal of any Federal Direct Loan for students who graduate with an undergraduate STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) degree or certificate. In addition, parents who borrow on behalf of a dependent student who graduates with an undergraduate STEM degree or certificate are eligible for 25% principal forgiveness on their PLUS loan(s). Rep. Soto (D-FL) sponsored this bill introduced on February 7.
- HR 1060, Young Farmer Success Act: Introduced by Rep. Courtney (D-CT) on February 7, this bill would qualify full-time employees or managers of a "qualified farm or ranch" for forgiveness benefits under Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). A "qualified farm or ranch" is defined as a farm or ranch whose gross revenue is equal to or greater than $35,000, indexed annually to inflation.
- S. 457, REST Act: Sponsored by Sen. Tester (D-MT), this bill, the Rural Educator Support and Training (REST) Act, would expand teacher loan forgiveness for educators who work in a rural school for a least 5 years (up to $17,500), in addition to providing grants to students who commit to pursue rural education as a career path
- S. 458, NEST Act: Similar to the REST ACT, this bill, the Native Educator Support and Training (NEST) Act, would establish scholarships, loan forgiveness plans, and training programs for educators who commit to teaching in Native American or Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools. The bill would create three scholarship programs, including two for Indian students seeking undergraduate or graduate degrees, and one for students seeking undergraduate degrees, for students who commit to teaching in a BIE school for at least three years. The bill expands teacher loan forgiveness for educators who work in a native school for a least 5 years (up to $17,500). The bill also provides grants for institutions of higher education looking to develop training programs for Native American immersion and language teachers. Sen. Tester (D-MT) also sponsored this bill, introduced on February 27.
- HR 1206, Reducing Barriers for Veterans Education Act: This bill would allow Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to be used for fees for an institution's application for admission. Rep. Messer (R-IN) introduced this bill on February 21.
- HR 1216, Protecting Our Veterans From School Closures Act: Also introduced by Rep. Messer (R-IN), this bill would reinstate Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to veterans attending a school that temporarily or permanently closes during their enrollment.
- S. 473, Educational Development for Troops and Veterans Act: This piece of legislation, sponsored by Sen. Tester (D-MT) and introduced on February 28, would allow service members to defer federal student loan payments prior to deployment, not to exceed 180 days. In addition, this bill standardizes Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility for National Guard and Reserve members and creates a grant program for institutions to support veteran student centers on campus.
- H.J.Res. 58, Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of Education relating to teacher preparation issues: This measure, covered in Today's News, repeals the October 2016 teacher preparation program accountability regulation via the Congressional Review Act. NASFAA supports the repeal of this regulation. Rep. Guthrie (R-KY) sponsored this resolution, which passed the House of Representatives on February 7.
- HR 899, To terminate the Department of Education: This brief bill would eliminate the Department of Education, effective December 31, 2018. The bill does not describe what would happen to the federal student aid programs. The bill was introduced by Rep. Massie (R-KY) and has 8 Republican co-sponsors.
- S. 306, Biennial Budgeting and Appropriations Act: This bill, introduced by Sen. Isakson (R-GA) with 16 Democratic and Republican co-sponsors, would modify the federal budget and appropriations process by implementing a biennial process, meaning consideration of budget resolutions and appropriations bills would occur every two years.
- HR 1065, Biennial Budgeting and Enhanced Oversight Act: A largely identical bill, this bill would also modify the federal budget and appropriations process by implementing a biennial process, meaning consideration of budget resolutions and appropriations bills would occur every two years. Rep. Messer (R-IN) sponsored this bill, which includes support from 48 bipartisan co-sponsors.
- HR 795, Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act: This measure, introduced by Rep. Davis (R-IL) on February 1, allows employers to contribute pre-tax earnings to help subsidize student loan repayments for their employees, up to $5,250 per year per employee.
- S. 405, Stop Taxing Death and Disability Act: This bill, supported by NASFAA, would exclude loan forgiveness from death or disability, including the Total and Permanent Disability loan discharge (TPD), from the calculation of gross income for income tax purposes. The bill was also introduced in the last session of Congress, where it was covered in Today's News at the time. Sen. Coons (D-DE) introduced this bill on February 16.
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