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.

April 2019

Consumer Information and Transparency

  • H.R. 2321 - The Understanding the True Cost of College Act of 2019, sponsored by Rep. Van Drew (D-NJ)  would mandate standard terminology and a standard format for financial aid award offers.
  • H.R. 2129 - The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act, introduced by Rep. Guthrie (R-KY) would change the current one-time entrance counseling requirement for student loans and Pell Grants into an annual counseling requirement.
  • H.R. 2006 - The College Equity Act of 2019 introduced by Rep. Shalala (D-FL) would establish a competitive grant program for institutions of higher education to address inequities by identifying and correcting disparities. The bill also requires higher education accrediting agencies to assess the findings of equity audits of institutions they oversee and provide related technical assistance and support.

Loans & Repayment

  • S. 1175 - The PSLF Technical Corrections Act of 2019 sponsored by Sen. Whitehouse, Sheldon (D-RI) seeks to extend PSLF eligibility to borrowers who have already invested up to 10 years toward making 120 on-time payments, but may have been unaware that the payment plan in which they enrolled was not sanctioned for forgiveness.
  • S. 1163 - Introduced by Sen. Crapo (R-ID), the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act would exempt Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program (VMLRP) awards from withholding taxes.
  • H.R. 2186 -- The Student Loan Refinancing Act introduced by Rep. Pocan (D-WI) would allow any borrower of Federal Direct Loans including Subsidized, Unsubsidized and PLUS loans, to refinance their federal loan interest rate to whatever the current award year interest rate. A borrower can have the interest rate refinanced at any time during the life of loan with no limit, with the exception that a loan can only be refinanced once every six months.
  • H.R. 2065/S. 1002 - A bicameral bill introduced by Rep. DeLauro (D-CT), and Sen. Merkley (D-OR), the Affordable Loans for Any Student Act would tackle several issues related to student loan affordability, complexity, and consumer information. The bill would end federal loan origination fees and the practice of interest capitalization as well as reduce the number of repayment plans to two: an income-based repayment plan, which would now be available to Parent PLUS borrowers, and a fixed 10-year plan. The Affordable Loans for Any Student Act would also simplify the process to enroll in either repayment plan.

Pell Grants

  • H.R. 2168/S. 1074  - Introduced in both the House by Rep. Davis (D-IL) and the Senate by Sen. Schatz (D-HI) The Restoring Education And Learning (REAL) Act of 2019 would restore Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated students.
  • H.R. 2161/S. 1072 - The Pell Flexibility Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Banks (R-IN) in the House and Sen. Braun (R-IN) in the Senate are aimed at allowing the Pell Grant to be used by students enrolled in short-term skill-based programs on a pilot program basis.

Quality & Accountability

  • S. 1153 - Sen Baldwin (D-WI) introduced the Stop Student Debt Relief Scams Act of 2019 which would attempt to end the misuse of borrower information used to commit criminal acts. The bill would add language to the HEA that would inform borrowers that the services offered by “phone scam” operators are available free of charge through ED.
  • S. 968 - The Protect Student Borrowers Act of 2019, introduced by Sen. Reed (D-RI)  would implement institutional risk-sharing in the Federal student loan program by mandating that institutions who have 33 percent of more of their enrolled students participating in the student loan program to make a payment depending on the percentage of those students who are in default. The determinations for the amount to be paid vary anywhere between 5 to 20 percent of the total amount of the dollars in default.

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: 6/3/2019

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