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.

June & July 2020

Campus-Based Programs

  • H.R.7511 — The Supporting Apprenticeship Colleges Act introduced by Rep. Craig [D-MN] authorizes funding to expand and support enrollment at institutions that introduced construction and manufacturing oriented registered apprenticeship programs. Grant amounts cannot exceed 500,000 and will be appropriate 5 million for each fiscal year 2021 through 2025. 
  • H.R.7497 — The Success for Rural Students and Communities Act introduced by Rep. Stefanik [R-NY] ensures the increased enrollment and graduation rates of secondary school graduates and nontraditional students from rural areas at 2-year and 4-year institutions. This bill establishes a grant program to promote economic growth and development in rural areas through partnerships grants to consortia of rural serving institutions.

Loans and Repayment

  • H.R.7761 — The Protecting Access to Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants During the COVID–19 Pandemic Act introduced by Rep. Swalwell [D-CA] would ensure that workers who were enrolled in the PSLF program and lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic can continue to count loan payments toward their total required for forgiveness under the PSLF program so long as they re-start their public service jobs within six months after the end of the public health emergency. It also would require the Secretary of Education to develop and make available guidance for those who are eligible for this emergency job disruption assistance.
  • S.4247 — The Student Loan Repayment and FAFSA Simplification Act introduced by Sen. Alexander [R-TN] would consolidate all existing repayment plans into two options — one standard 10-year repayment plan and one income-based repayment plan for federal loans entering repayment on or after October 1. Once a borrower enrolled in the income-based repayment plan begins earning income, their monthly payment would be capped at 10% of their income that exceeds 150% of the poverty line. In addition, this bill calls for simplifying the FAFSA, reducing the number of questions students must answer to obtain federal financial aid from more than 100 to about 30. The bill would also make adjustments to how institutions calculate the cost of attendance (COA) and adds restrictions to the on-campus housing allowance
  • S.4141/H.R.7449 — The Bank on Students Coronavirus Emergency Loan Refinancing Act of 2020 introduced by Sen. Warren, Elizabeth [D-MA] in the Senate and Rep. Courtney [D-CT] in the House would allow student loan borrowers to refinance their federal loans – all eligible federal FFEL, Direct, Perkins, and Public Health Service Act student loan borrowers could refinance their high-interest loans down to the rates offered to federal borrowers in the 2020-2021 school year. Direct loan holders would automatically have their debt refinanced. In addition, this bill would allow eligible student loan borrowers to refinance their private loans into the federal program. The bill provides those with private student loan debt the option of refinancing their high-interest private student loans down to the rates offered to new federal student loan borrowers. Those who refinance will also have access to the benefits and protections of the federal student loan program.
  • H.R.7294 — The COVID-19 Perkins Loan Relief Act introduced by Rep. Porter [D-CA] would suspend Federal Perkins Loans repayments during the COVID-19 pandemic. No interest shall acquire on Federal Perkins Loans and all payments shall be suspended until September 30, 2020. 
  • H.R.7114 — The Economic and Student Loan Debt Relief Act of 2020 introduced by Rep. Stivers [R-OH] extends the payment pause and interest waiver through December 31, 2020. It also makes permanent the exclusion from income for employer-paid student loan repayment assistance. 

Military and Veterans Aid

  • H.R.7372 — The Improving College Affordability for our Guard and Reserve Act introduced by Rep. Reschenthaler [R-PA] would amend the HEA to include all members of the Armed Forces in the definition of "independent student" for purposes of determining the eligibility of service members for federal financial assistance.

Pell Grants

  • H.R.7737 — The More Choice for Career Training Act introduced by Rep. Carter, [R-TX] provides an alternative certification program to enable students to use Federal Pell Grants to enroll in education programs for which students are not otherwise eligible.

Quality and Accountability

  • H.R.7170 — The America FIRST Act introduced by Rep. Hern [R-OK] requires that any institution that receives a gift from or enters into a contract with a foreign source must disclose the value of said contract or gift if it is worth $50,000 or more.

Student Aid Funding

  • S.4322 — The Safely Back to School and Back to Work Act, introduced by Sen. Alexander [R-TN] would dedicate $29 billion directed to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). 85%, would be distributed to institutions based 90% on the enrollment of full-time Pell Grant recipients who were not exclusively enrolled in distance education at the onset of the pandemic, and 10% on full-time non-Pell Grant recipients who were not exclusively enrolled in distance education. 10% of the HEERF funds would be distributed to Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to address needs directly related to COVID-19, and the final 5% would be directed to institutions that the secretary of education determines to have "the greatest unmet needs related to coronavirus." The HEALS Act would allow institutions to use the funds to defray costs they incurred due to the coronavirus, such as lost revenue, technology costs to transition to distance education, and payroll, and to provide emergency financial aid grants to students, including those exclusively enrolled in distance education. 
  • S.4112 — The Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act introduced by Sen. Murray [D-WA] establishes the Higher Education Relief Fund (HERF), which will provide over $132 billion in funding for students and institutions of higher education. Included in the bill is a provision to reverse the Secretary of Education’s recent decision to exclude Dreamers from receiving COVID-19 relief aid that was authorized under the CARES Act. This legislation invests over $1 billion in adult education and workforce development. This funding will support programs that serve adult English learners through adult and family literacy activities.
  • S.3947 — The Coronavirus Relief Flexibility for Students and Institutions Act, introduced by Sen. Kaine [D-VA], amends the provisions relating to the higher education emergency relief fund to allow institution to use the funds towards a more broad range of items, including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff training, and payroll.

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: 8/24/2020

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