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.

November/December 2019

Consumer Information and Transparency

  • S.3115 - The Time For Completion Act introduced by Sen. Enzi [R-WY], would require community colleges to report graduation rates. It would include data such as the percentage of first-time and non-first time, full-time and part-time, degree- or certificate-seeking undergraduate students enrolled at the institution who obtain a degree or certificate within each of the times for completion or graduation.

FAFSA Simplification

  • H.R.5363 - The Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education Act (FUTURE) Act of 2019 introduced by Rep. Adams [D-NC], would provide $255 million in permanent, annual mandatory funding to Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and simplify the financial aid application, verification, and student loan repayment processes for millions of students. The bill would amend section 6103(l) of the IRC to allow the IRS to disclose tax return information directly to authorized ED officials for the purposes of “determining eligibility for, and amount of, Federal student financial aid.” The allowable information to be disclosed would include all items currently transferred via the DRT, as well as the taxpayer’s filing status, whether they filed a lettered tax schedule, and whether the individual(s) had filed taxes. The bill further permits taxpayer data sharing between IRS and ED and/or its contractors for the purpose of verifying income for applicants requesting or renewing eligibility for income-driven loan repayment plans as well as for the three-year monitoring period after a borrower has received a loan discharge for total and permanent disability.

  • H.R.5368 — The Faster Access to Federal Student Aid Act of 2019 introduced by Rep. DelBene [D-WA] would, through better integration with the Department of Education (ED) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), simplify the application, verification, and student loan repayment processes. The FAFSA Act would amend section 6103(l) of the Internal Revenue Code to allow the IRS to disclose tax return information to authorized ED officials for the purposes of "determining eligibility for, and amount of, Federal student financial aid." The allowable information to be disclosed would include all items currently brought over from the DRT, and would also include "the filing status of such taxpayer," including whether the applicant had filed taxes.

Graduate Students

  • H.R.5104 -- The Respect Graduate Student Workers Act introduced by Rep. Pocan [D-WI], would include graduate student works in the definition of an employee under the National Labor Relations Act, granting them all the rights and responsibility that the Act provides.

Improving Affordability

  • S.3095 - The Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act introduced by Rep. Warren [D-MA] would develop accessibility guidelines for instructional materials used in postsecondary education, as well as provides incentives for institutions of higher education to follow the guidelines while still offering flexibility for schools while reiterating that pre-existing obligations still apply.

  • H.R.5350 — The Diversifying by Investing in Educators and Students to Improve Outcomes For Youth Act introduced by Rep. Garcia [D-IL] would increase the TEACH Grant annual amount from $4,000 to $8,000 as well as would increase the total aggregate amount to $32,000. 

  • S.2899 - The Student Apprenticeship Act of 2019 introduced by Sen. Bennet [D-CO} would create a grant program that would encourage the establishment of apprenticeships between institutions of higher education, employers, and workforce intermediaries. Students would be able to earn college credit, industry credentials, and compensation for their work. Employers would pay at least 25 percent of the student’s college tuition and fees. This bill would also expand the FWS program to include apprenticeship programs.

Loans & Repayment

  • S.3055 - The Student Loan Repayment Freedom Act introduced by Sen. Murkowski [R-AK] would permit a student loan borrower to leave their income-based repayment plan and repay under any other loan repayment plan for which they are eligible.

  • H.R.5287 — The Fair Student Loan Debt Collection Practices Act introduced by Rep. Lawson [D-FL] would prohibit collecting from a borrower during any period of time that a similar borrower would not be required to make a payment under an income-driven plan. Debt collectors would also be prohibited from collecting from a borrower an amount that is more than a similar borrower would have paid in one month under an IDR plan. Debt collectors would also be forced to certify that the borrower they are attempting to make a collection from are not eligible for any administrative discharges first.

Military and Veterans Aid

  • H.R.5314 — The Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeships Act of 2019 introduced by Rep. Clark [D-MA] would expand and improve apprenticeship opportunities for veteran students. The Support for Veterans in Effective Apprenticeships Act of 2019 would increase access to financial assistance that these students can use while in an apprentice program.

Quality & Accountability

  • S.3114 - The 90/10 Accountability for All Act introduced by Sen. Enzi [R-WY] would require that all institutions of higher education, not only proprietary institutions, have to meet the current 90/10 revenue regulations. 

  • H.R.5294 —The Student Borrower Protections Act of 2019 introduced by Rep. Adams [D-NC] would amend the Truth in Lending Act to establish a student borrower bill of rights. The new borrower bill of rights would include minimum standards for all loan transactions, improving disclosures, requiring accurate and timely repayment resources and options. The bill would also create standards for loan servicers reporting student loan information to the consumer reporting agencies.

  • H.R.5241/S.2925 -- The Protecting Students from Worthless Degrees Act introduced by Rep. Krishnamoorthi [D-IL] and Sen. Merkley [D-OR] would require programs offered by an institution designed to lead to a recognized occupation or profession that requires licensing or other requirements to meet any federal or state accreditation and licensing requirements. The bill also adds additional certification requirements for gainful employment (GE) programs, including ensuring the GE program is approved by a recognized accrediting agency (either institutionally or programmatically depending on if programmatic accreditation is required by a Federal or state entity) and prohibiting a GE program that is substantially similar to a program that in any of the three years prior became ineligible (or was failing or in the zone) due to the debt to earning rates at the same institution.

  • H.R.4977 — The Higher Education Funds Integrity Act introduced by Rep. Phillips [D-MN] would prohibit Title IV federal funds to be used to pay any person to influence, or attempt to influence an employee of any federal agency or a member of Congress or any Congress-affiliated employees. Hiring a registered lobbyist with the use of federal aid funds would also be prohibited.

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: 1/7/2020

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