On this page, you'll find proposals that seek to improve institutional quality and/or look to hold institutions or individuals responsible for their actions or performance. In addition, this page includes legislation regarding accreditation and matters related to the Department of Education, including structure and regulatory activity.
For quality and accountability proposals from the previous sessions of Congress, visit the Legislative Tracker Archive: Quality & Accountability.
Sponsor: Rep. Wilson [D-FL]
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: The Quality Higher Education Act would require ED to initiate a negotiated rulemaking process to create consequences, as well as a process for accrediting agencies if an institution in their jurisdiction fails to meet accreditation standards. ED would also be required to create a list of standards that accrediting agencies will use, including standard metrics for completion and workforce participation and how to measure those metrics.
Sponsor: Sen. Scott [R-FL]
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This bill would create institutional risk-sharing for institutions that participate in the Federal Direct loan program. The risk-sharing would be based on loan default by calculating the total cohort loan balance for a fiscal year and from that deducing which percentage of that population have gone into default in the 3 consecutive years since their loans entered repayment. The amount the institution would be responsible for paying for the first year after enactment would be 1% of the cohort non-repayment balance, the second through the ninth year, the institutions would be responsible for 2% and in years 10 and later, 10%.
Sponsor: Rep. Shalala [D-FL]
Cosponsors: 5 (5D; 0R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This bill would codify the Student Aid Enforcement Unit that lives within the Department of Education and would mandate that the Unite better respond to fraud and abuse within the federal student aid programs.
Sponsor: Rep. Malinowski [D-NJ]
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: The Higher Education Student Protection Act would hold all institutions of higher education accountable for spending disproportionately on advertising, marketing, recruitment, and lobbying relative to actual instruction. Institutions would be required to report to IPEDS how much they are spending on those items. The system would then flag any institutions who are spending less than 1/3 of their revenue from tuition and fees on instruction. Institutions could be subject to losing access to Title IV funds.
Sponsor: Rep. Sablan [D-MP]
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This bill would create an advisory committee at the US Department of Education made up of teacher unions, state and local officials, school administrator organizations, institutions of higher education, and others, to produce a comprehensive set of expectations that sets a high bar for entry into the profession and ensures that all entering teachers and school leaders are profession-ready.
Sponsor: Rep. Castro [D-TX]
Cosponsors: 1 (0D; 1R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: The Transparency for Transfer Students Act would require institutions of higher education to disclose in an easy to find location on their website an explanation of all articulation agreements they may have with another institution, and a list of transfer-related resources, such as deadlines and financial aid information.
Sponsor: Rep. Trahan [D-MA]
Cosponsors: 4 (2D; 2R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: The FACT Act of 2019 is a bipartisan bill created to bring some standardization to financial aid offer forms by mandating the use of standard terms and definitions, as well as requiring institutions to include a "quick reference box" allowing students to quickly compare aid offers. The bill would direct the Department of Education (ED) to conduct consumer testing that establishes standardized definitions and groupings of aid type and determines any additional elements that should be included in financial aid offers. The FACT Act includes the addition of a mandatory "quick reference box" that must be included on the first page of financial aid offers, and would be developed through consumer testing by the ED. The box would feature three data elements that would allow students to quickly compare aid offers, including cost of attendance, total grants and scholarships offered, and net price.
Sponsor: Rep. Delgado [D-NY]
Cosponsors: 3 (1D; 2R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This bill would increase financial support for students who are working while attending school. The Strengthening FAFSA Act calls for an increase in Pell Grant lifetime eligibility usage, from 6 years or 12 semesters, to 7 years or 14 semesters. It would also increase the Income Protection Allowance (IPA) by 35 percent.
Sponsor: Rep. Takano [D-CA]
Cosponsors: 1 (1D; 0R)
NASFAA Summary & Analysis: This bill would reinstate Obama-era gainful employment (GE) regulations that the Department of Education (ED) eliminated last month. The bill proposes that ED revive the practice of tying Title IV eligibility for non-degree-granting programs to their students’ ability to repay their loan debt, or their debt-to-earnings ratios.
Sponsor: Rep. Rooney [R-FL]
Cosponsors: 2 (0D; 2R)
Sponsor: Sen. Lee [R-UT]
Cosponsors: 1 (1R; 0D)
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: This bill, introduced as companion bills in the House and Senate, would change accreditation rules that would allow any accrediting agency that has an "alternative accreditation agreement" with the Department of Ed to grant accreditation to any postsecondary education program that could be applied to a degree, credential or professional certificate. The bill would also change state accreditation rules to allow flexibility in determining clock-hour and minimum program length requirements for federal student aid eligibility. All undergraduate students regardless of grade level would be able to borrow up to $7,500 each year in federal student loans, for an aggregate amount of $30,000. The Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act would eliminate loan forgiveness.
Sponsor: Rep. Foster [D-IL]
Cosponsors: 4 (4D; 0R)
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: This bill would allow students convicted of marijuana possession to retain eligibility for six months on the condition they complete an approved drug rehabilitation program and two unannounced drug tests, instead of immediately losing eligibility until the completion of rehabilitation as it stands now.
Sponsor: Rep. Perry [R-PA]
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: This bill would require institutions to disclose any gifts from and/or contracts with a foreign source above $50,000 to the Department of Education. Currently the value at which an institution must disclose a gift or contract is $250,000.
Sponsor: Rep. Harder [D-CA]
Cosponsors: 3 (2R; 1D)
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: This bill would authorize the Department of Education to award grants to institutions of higher education to support and/or develop dual enrollment programs.
Sponsor: Sen. Hawley [R-MO]
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: The Skin in the Game Act would require institutions to pay back repay a portion of the loan balance of students who are unable to repay their debt. The bill would require institutions to pay 50% of the balance of student loans accrued while attending their institution for students who default. The bill would also forbid institutions from increasing the cost of attendance to offset the liability.
Sponsor: Rep. McBath [D-GA]
Cosponsors: 7 (7D; 0R)
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: The Relief for Defrauded Students Act would allow students to receive loan forgiveness if they were misled by an institution, and make the borrower defense rule permanent. If the Department of Education approves the borrower defense to repayment appeal, ED must cancel all remaining loan balances, and return any amount the borrower has already paid on the loan.
Sponsor: Rep. Cohen, Steve [D-TN]
Cosponsors: 3 (0 R; 3 D)
Sponsor: Sen. Durbin, Richard J. [D-IL]
Cosponsors: 8 (0 R; 7 D; 1 I)
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: This measure prohibits institutions from using federal education funds, including Title IV and VA benefit dollars, for marketing, advertising, or recruiting.
Sponsor: Rep. Waters, Maxine [D-CA]
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: This bill would restore the 85/15 ratio for proprietary institutions from the current 90/10 rule.
Sponsor: Sen. Baldwin (D-WI)
Cosponsors: 3 (2 R; 1 D)
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: This bill 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.
Sponsor: Sen. Reed (D-RI)
Cosponsors: 3 (0 R; 3 D)
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: This bill 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.
Sponsor: Rep. Rooney (R-FL)
Co-Sponsors: 0 (0 R; 0 D)
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: This bill would prohibit public institutions (as part of the program participation agreement (PPA)) from restricting expressive activities, such as through so-called "free speech zones."
Sponsor: Rep. Massie (R-KY)
Co-Sponsors: 11 (11 R; 0 D)
NASFAA Analysis & Coverage: This brief bill would eliminate the Department of Education, effective December 31, 2020. The bill does not describe what would happen to the federal student aid programs.
Publication Date: 10/15/2019