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.
- S. 839 - The Classroom to Careers Act of 2019, introduced by Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY), would allow students to work full-time hours in a work-study position and would impose restrictions on the nature of all work performed under the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program. The bill would add a new requirement, applicable to all FWS employment, that all work performed under FWS must comply with the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which took effect in 2016.
- S. 720 - CFPB Student Loan Integrity and Transparency Act of 2019. Introduced in the Senate by Sen. Udall (D-NM), this bill would require that the Department of Education provide data on Federal Direct Student Loans to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in order to help better aide students hurt by predatory institutions.
- H.R. 1571/S. 672 - Debt-Free College Act of 2019 is bicameral legislation introduced by Rep. Pocan (D-WI) and Sen. Schatz (D-HI), that would create a State-Federal partnership to provide a debt-free college experience. This program would mean a commitment for cover remaining unmet financial need for eligible students. To be eligible students would need to be enrolled at an institution in the state they reside, complete a FAFSA application and meet SAP requirements. This bill would appropriate 84 billion dollars to create the partnership. In addition the Debt-Free College Act would provide full Title IV eligibility for Dreamer students and repeal the suspension of Title IV aid for students with drug related offenses.
- H.R. 1565/S. 681 - Student Right to Know Before You Go Act of 2019: This bill, introduced in the House and Senate by Rep. Hunter (R-CA) and Sen. Wyden (D-OR) would facilitate the creation of a Higher Education Data System. In addition to all current IPEDS metrics, this system would collect data such as, the percentage of students receiving federal, state, institutional and private loans and grants, student completion rates, mean and median of Federal loan debt, loan repayment rates at 2, 6, and 15 year intervals, information on transfer students, and drop percentages. The data would also look at different student groups such as, enrollment status', veteran status, Pell grant status, gender, age, and first-generation status.
- S. 887 - The Know Before You Owe Federal Student Loan Act was introduced by Sen. Grassley (R-IA) would require Entrance Counseling, renamed Pre-Loan Counseling, to be administered before the disbursement of each new loan in each award year. This bill would also create Periodic Disclosures, which would be sent to every loan borrower on a quarterly basis, which contain updated information on how much they've borrowed, any interest capitalization that has occurred and their individual borrowers information.
- S. 888 - Understanding the True Cost of College Act: Sen. Grassley's (R-IA) bill, Understanding The True Cost of College Act would mandate standard terminology and a standard format for financial aid award offers.
- S. 889 - Net Price Calculator Improvement Act: Introduced by Sen. Grassley (R-IA), this bill would allow the creation of a centralized website to allow students to compare estimates of their net price for individual institutions across multiple colleges at once.
- S. 800/H.R. 1766 - The College Transparency Act, is bicameral legislation, introduced by Sen. Cassidy (R-LA) and Rep. Mitchell (R-MI), which would create a new "postsecondary student data system," thereby repealing the ban on the federal government from collecting student-level data. Supported by NASFAA, the bill aims to modernize the federal data reporting system, thereby reducing data reporting burdens on institutions. The data system would contain data elements related to student enrollment, persistence, retention, transfer, and completion measures. The bill contains several privacy provisions and includes prohibitions on the collection of certain information, including religion, course grades, and citizenship status, among others. Ultimately, the new data collection will be used to create a user-friendly portal for the public to compare institutions. The bill's provisions apply to all institutions of higher education that receive Title IV federal student aid.
- H.R. 6 - The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 is a comprehensive immigration bill, introduced by Rep. Roybal-Allard (D-CA), that would allow some undocumented young people, who have already invested in our country and in whom the country has already invested, to earn lawful permanent residence in the United States and a path to citizenship. The bill would also allow Dreamers to be eligible for Title IV federal student aid programs.
- H.R. 1707/S. 768- Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing bill would allow borrowers who meet an income requirement with Federal Direct Loans, including Parent PLUS and Consolidation Loans, as well as borrowers with FFEL Program Loans to refinance their current loan balances under the interest rate applicable to their loan type from the 2016-2017 fiscal year. The new refinanced rate would be fixed for the rest of the loans life and would not lengthen the repayment time frame of the loan. The Bill would also allow qualified borrowers to refinance private loans with the Department of Education. The bicameral legislation, Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing was introduced by Sen. Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Courtney (D-CT).
- H.R. 1554 - REDI (Resident Education Deferred Interest) Act, introduced by Rep. Babin (R-TX), would allow borrowers in a medical or dental residency program to have the interest and payments on their student loans deferred.
- H.R. 1798 - Student and Families Empowerment Act: This bill, introduced by Rep. Rice (D-NY), would extend the current grace period time frame for student loan borrowers. For all Federal Direct loan programs, the grace period would be extended from 6 months to 12 months and interest would not accrue for the new 12-month period as well. The bill would also allow for an increase of the student loan interest deduction for tax filing purposes.
- H.R. 1685 - The Physician Assistant Higher Education Modernization Act, introduced by Rep. Bass (D-CA), would increase the unsubsidized loan limit for graduate students in physician assistant (PA) programs, authorize loan forgiveness programs for PAs who serve in areas of national need, develop a program to expand PA education programs at rural institutions, make Historically Black Colleges & Universities eligible to receive additional grants and give grant preference to programs at Hispanic Serving Institutions, and increase grant funding opportunities for PA faculty development and technology at PA programs.
- H.R. 1571/S. 672 - The Debt-Free College Act of 2019, is bicameral legislation, introduced by Rep. Pocan (D-WI) and Sen. Schatz (D-HI), which would create a State-Federal partnership program that aims to provide a debt-free college experience. This program would create a commitment to cover remaining unmet financial need for eligible students. To be eligible students would need to be enrolled at an eligible institution in the state they reside, complete the FAFSA and meet SAP requirements. This bill would authorize $84 billion to create the partnership program. In addition, the Debt-Free College Act would provide full Title IV eligibility for Dreamer students and repeal the suspension of Title IV aid for students with drug-related offenses.
- H.R. 1652 - The Veteran Education Empowerment Act introduced by Rep. Frankel (D-FL), would award grants to institutions of higher education to create or improve Veteran Student Centers on campuses. In addition to a multitude of other services, the Centers would help Veterans to understand and obtain benefits provided by the institution, or the Federal Government and State financial aid awards.
- S. 839 - The JOBS Act of 2019, introduced by Sen. Kaine (D-VA), would allow Pell Grant funds to be used for short-term job training programs.
- H.R. 1672 - The Free Right to Expression in Education Act, introduced by Rep. Rooney, would prohibit public institutions (as part of the program participation agreement (PPA)) from restricting expressive activities, such as through so-called "free speech zones."
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