The Capitol Recap

Capitol RecapWith 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.

March 2017

Consumer Information & Transparency

  • HR 1283/S. 749, Transparency in Student Lending Act: Introduced by Rep. Hultgren (R-IL) in the House and by Sen. Enzi (R-WY) in the Senate, this bill would require institutions to disclose the annual percentage rate applicable to each federal student loan disbursed before disbursement. The annual percentage rate would include the amount of the loan, the stated interest rate of the loan, the standard term for a loan of the same type, any fees or additional costs associated with the loan, and any capitalization of interest on the loan. Disclosures must be provided "in writing" and "in a form the borrower may keep." 
  • HR 1429, LEADS Act: This bill, the Letter of Estimated Annual Debt for Students (LEADS) Act, would require schools to provide students with annual notices of student loan borrowing amounts, a bill introduced by Rep. Messer (R-IN). The notice would also include the cumulative balance of education loans owed by the student at that date, the amount of any new loans to be disbursed during the academic year, the projected cumulative balance of education loans that will be owed after graduation, and projected monthly payment amounts assuming a standard repayment plan. The U.S. Department of Education would create a template for schools to comply.
  • HR 1193, Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act: Introduced again in this session of Congress, the bill, introduced by Rep. Guthrie (R-KY), chairman of the higher education subcommittee, would change the current one-time entrance counseling requirement for student loans and Pell Grants into an annual counseling requirement. The bill was covered at the time of its original introduction in Today's News

FAFSA Simplification

  • HR 1432, SUCCESS Act: The Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success (SUCCESS) Act repeals the suspension of eligibility for drug-related offenses provision in the Higher Education Act and prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from asking federal financial aid applicants if they have been convicted of a drug offense. Rep. Bass (D-CA) introduced the bill, which would put into place one of NASFAA's reauthorization recommendations.

Loans & Repayment

  • S. 564, HANG UP Act: Sponsored by Sen. Markey (D-MA), the Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls (HANG UP) Act eliminates a provision allowing the federal government and its contractors to use predictive dialer technology to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States, which includes federal student loans.
  • HR 1506, VA Health Care Provider Education Debt Relief Act: This bill, introduced by Rep. O'Rourke (D-TX), would increase the maximum amount of education debt eligible for forgiveness for health care professionals employed at the Department of Veterans Affairs through the VA education debt reduction program. 
  • S. 619/HR 1639, Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act: This measure would add physical therapy to the list of eligible fields for the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Tester (D-MT) and by Rep. Shimkus (R-IL) in the House.
  • S. 799, Dynamic Repayment Act: The bill would replace current loans, subsidies, deferments, forbearances, and repayment options with a single loan called the Income Dependent Education Assistance (IDEA) Loan, repaid through universal income-driven repayment and employer withholding. Reintroduced in this session of Congress by Sen. Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Rubio (R-FL), the bill was previously summarized in Today's News.

Military & Veterans Aid

  • HR 1793, Veterans Education Priority Enrollment Act: This bill would require institutions to include recipients of military and veterans education benefits in any priority enrollment process that allows certain students (e.g. student-athletes, honors students) to enroll in courses early. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) introduced this bill.

Pell Grants

  • S. 597, Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act: This bill would allow students who are less than 24 years old or enrolled at an institution of higher education at the time of a death of a parent or guardian who died in the line of duty as a police officer, firefighter, or other public safety officer to receive the maximum Pell Grant award. Sen. Casey (D-PA) introduced this bill, which is a companion to the same bill introduced in the House last month.
  • HR 1510, Flexible Pell Grant for 21st Century Students Act: This piece of legislation, reintroduced in 2017, was introduced in 2015 as part of a package of bills introduced by House Republicans as the basis for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. This bill would reinstate the year-round Pell Grant award, or "Summer Pell." Under this bill, a student could receive up to 150% of his or her scheduled award during an award year; however, a student must be using the additional scheduled award to "accelerate" his or her program of study. “Accelerate” would mean that the total number of credits (or equivalent) earned during the previous payment periods in the award year plus the credits in which the student enrolls during the additional payment period together must exceed the number of credits in the institution’s definition of academic year for the student’s program of study. Rep. Stefanik introduced this measure, which features 28 bipartisan co-sponsors.
  • HR 1767, To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to discontinue certain administrative cost allowances, and for other purposes: This bill, sponsored by Rep. Russell (R-OK), would eliminate the Pell Grant Program administrative cost allowance, funds financial aid offices use for administering the program. The bill currently has no co-sponsors. 

Quality & Accountability

  • S.J. Res. 26Providing 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. en. Sasse (R-NE) sponsored the Senate resolution. The House resolution, which cleared the House of Representatives in February, passed the Senate on March 8 before being signed into law by President Trump on March 27. NASFAA supported the repeal of this regulation. 
  • HR 1510, States' Education Reclamation Act: This bill would eliminate the Department of Education and distribute major programs to other agencies. The Federal Pell Grant Program and all student loan programs would be transferred to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Based on the language, FWS and FSEOG could be eliminated entirely. Rep. Rouzer (R-NC) introduced this bill, which currently has one Republican co-sponsor.
  • S. 615, Higher Education Innovation Act: This bill, sponsored by Sen. Bennet (D-CO), would establish a pilot program for alternative accreditation for institutions for the purposes of institutional eligibility for the federal student aid programs. Certain currently ineligible programs and providers would be authorized to receive Title IV funds, provided the programs and providers meet a number of performance metrics and other requirements. 

Tax Issues

  • S. 796, Employer Participation in Repayment Act: This measure, the Senate version of a bill introduced by Rep. Davis (R-IL) in February, allows employers to contribute pre-tax earnings to help subsidize student loan repayments for their employees, up to $5,250 per year per employee. Sen. Warner (D-VA) sponsored this bill.
  • HR 1659Stop 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. Rep. Roskum (R-MI) introduced the House version of the bill, which was introduced in the Senate last month by Sen. Coons (D-DE). 
  • HR 1656, HELP for Students and Parents Act: This measure, introduced by Rep. Meehan (R-PA), would provide incentives for employers to establish student loan repayment programs and to make contributions to qualified tuition programs on behalf of children of employees. The bill would make employer contributions to an employee’s student debt repayment and/or to a 529 plan excludable from gross income. Employers would earn a tax credit based on the amount contributed to student debt repayment and/or 529 plans. 
  • HR 1764, Fair Treatment of Scholarships and Pell Grants Act: This measure, sponsored by Rep. Messer (R-IN), would exempt scholarships, fellowships, and grants that cover room and board costs and certain research expenses from the calculation of gross income for income tax purposes.

 

For additional updates on some of these topics, be sure to select related items in the Suggested Content area; you can also sign up to receive email notifications weekly when content has been updated.

Publication Date: 4/4/2017


Related Content

NASFAA Policy Update

MORE | ADD TO FAVORITES

How a Harvard Economist Would Make Free Tuition Even Better

MORE | ADD TO FAVORITES

VIEW ALL
View Desktop Version