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TODAY'S NEWS

today’s news for Thursday, December 21, 2017

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NEWS FROM NASFAA

The Department of Education (ED) yesterday announced it is instituting a new "tiered relief" process for borrower defense to repayment claims. As of Wednesday, ED has used the new system to rule on 21,500 pending claims filed by students from the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges—8,600 of which were denied. Of the 12,900 that were approved, some have qualified for full relief, while others will receive partial relief based on the perceived value of the education received, as determined by comparing students’ current earnings with those of their peers from passing gainful employment (GE) programs.

The Department of Education's (ED) Office of Inspector General (OIG) outlined new goals to improve ED’s process for resolving improper payments and assess the management of certain programs and regulations, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program in its plan for fiscal year (FY) 2018.

The PROSPER Act proposes replacing cohort default rate (CDR) as a metric to determine institutional eligibility with program-based repayment rates. A program at an institution would lose its Title IV eligibility for three years if its loan repayment rate is less than 45 percent for each of the three most recent fiscal years.

Republicans in the House of Representatives earlier this week released an $81 billion disaster relief package to aid those impacted by disasters this year. The bill addresses Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and 2017 wildfires designated a major disaster or emergency by President Trump and would allocate $2.9 billion toward the Department of Education (ED) through Sept. 30, 2021.

In 2017, NASFAA and its members across the country made great strides in influencing important policy decisions about college access, affordability, simplification, and transparency. With the help of 24 NASFAA members, the association held eight successful Advocacy Pipeline events on Capitol Hill this year. NASFAA also added to its advocacy resources a policy priorities list and three new “Issue Brief” one-pagers on administrative cost allowance, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and origination fees. Read on for a comprehensive list of other actions NASFAA and its members took in 2017.

The bill, passed Tuesday by the Senate and Wednesday by the House, is a Republican tax reform measure and makes several changes to tax provisions affecting higher education. The initial version of the House-passed bill would have eliminated the student loan interest deduction, the Lifetime Learning Credit, the employer-provided educational assistance benefit, the Section 117(d) tuition reduction assistance benefit (for employees and graduate-level teaching assistants), among other changes, but ultimately the final conference bill did not include these provisions. However, the final bill does include a 1.4 percent excise tax on certain private university endowments and provides an exclusion from income for any discharge of student loan debt resulting from death or total disability.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

The Department of Education provides the following information regarding the designation of Title III or Title V status for institutions and the resulting waiver of the non-Federal share requirements for the Federal Work-Study (FWS) and Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) programs.

Tentative funding levels and corresponding worksheets for the Campus-Based programs for the 2018–19 Award Year (July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019) will be posted to the eCampus-Based (eCB) website by January 8, 2018. These tentative funding levels are determined in accordance with the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA).

FEDERAL REGISTER

The Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP) for Disbursing Title IV Aid to Students with Intellectual Disabilities expenditure report is the tool for reporting the use of these specific funds. The data will be used by the Department to monitor program effectiveness and accountability of fund expenditures. 

This request is for an extension of the reporting requirements currently in Student Assistance General Provisions, 34 CFR 668, Subpart I which governs the Immigration-Status Confirmation authorized by section 484(g) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. 

The Department of Education (ED) is seeking continued approval of a Third Party Servicer Data Collection form to be used to collect information from Third Party Servicers, validate the information reported to ED by higher education institutions regarding third party servicers that administer one or more aspects of the administration of the Title IV, Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, programs on an institution's behalf, and to collect additional information required for effective oversight of these entities.

HEADLINES

National News

"Almost 38 percent of students who began at a public two-year institution completed a degree in six years, according to a new study by the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center that tracked a cohort of students at public and private two- and four-year colleges and universities from 2011 to 2017," Community College Daily reports.

"A growing number of professors are replacing the traditional textbook with an openly licensed one, according to a survey released on Tuesday. But their overall numbers remain small — and widespread adoption of the practice could remain out of reach unless key barriers are overcome," according to The Chronicle of Higher Education

"A Cambridge startup is taking college guidance online, offering high school students and their parents a cheaper alternative to private college counseling. But some wonder if this model is just another widening of the gap between those with access to college, and those without," WBUR reports. 

Opinions

"As a predictor of social mobility, higher education remains the most promising path to entering the middle class. Understanding this, President Barack Obama made higher education a clear priority, laying down a challenge to have the highest proportion of college-educated adults of any country," Paul J. Fitzgerald, president of the University of San Francisco, writes in a letter to the editor of The New York Times. 

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