January 20 marked U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration and first day in office. While President Trump’s higher education priorities are still coming into focus, the new administration has already signaled the potential repeal or modification of a number of current regulations, a push to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), and potential changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program as the first cohort of eligible borrowers receive forgiveness.
Experts from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) are available to discuss these and other financial aid hot topics:
- Potential repeal of regulations: With the new administration now in office, and Betsy DeVos—whose interests appear to lie primarily with elementary and secondary school issues, particularly related to the expansion of charter schools—up for the position of Education Secretary, what lies ahead for higher education is largely unknown. We do know that following Trump’s inauguration, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus circulated a memo among agency leaders announcing a freeze on all pending federal regulations, which could impact some of the Obama administration’s final education regulations. Mr. Trump has also signed an executive order that would prohibit the introduction of any new regulations without the appeal of two others. Congress has the ability through the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal regulations published in the final months of the Obama administration. On the table for immediate congressional action are rules regarding teacher preparation program accountability, borrower defense to repayment, and state authorization for distance education. Republicans have also supported repeal of the gainful employment rule, but such action would require 60 votes in the Senate, whereas the CRA only requires a simple majority.
- Higher Education Act Reauthorization: We also know that lawmakers in both the House and Senate have shown an interest in pushing forward with the reauthorization of the HEA, particularly Sen. Lamar Alexander, chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Ranking Member Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Rep. Bobby Scott, ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), new chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Foxx in particular has long championed higher education issues like college affordability and accountability—and has named HEA reauthorization among her top priorities. Alexander in recent years has indicated that simplification of the federal student aid system will be his focus for HEA reauthorization, particularly simplification of the FAFSA and reducing the administrative burden placed on financial aid administrators and higher education institutions. And Scott, on the 50th anniversary of the HEA, released a statement expressing that he hopes to work with his “colleagues in Congress to pass a reauthorization that will be a strong investment in education and help keep America’s workforce and economy strong for future generations.”
- The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program: Financial aid administrators and higher education experts will be paying close attention later in the year to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, as the first cohort of borrowers will satisfy the requirements for loan forgiveness in the fall of 2017. In addition, the nearly 60-year-old Federal Perkins Loan Program is scheduled to expire by September 30, 2017. Higher education advocates are hopeful to see the return of year-round eligibility for the Pell Grant, which was included in the bipartisan Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill that cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee last spring.
“In the face of so much uncertainty, we’re encouraged to know that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are as interested in reauthorizing the HEA as we are,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “Reauthorization will allow us to tackle a number of problems facing today’s college students and graduates. Simplification of the financial aid application process, curbing indebtedness and restructuring the federal loan repayment system are just some of the issues we hope to address during reauthorization. We look forward to continued collaboration with Congress, the Department of Education, and the White House.”
To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson about what changes we may see under the new administration, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 785-6959.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 20,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit www.nasfaa.org.