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.

May 2021

Campus-Based Programs

  • The ACCESS to Careers Act of 2021, introduced by Tim Kaine [D-VA], would create a competitive grant program for community colleges and states to focus on boosting work-based learning opportunities. In an effort to provide students with more opportunities to further their education and the support they need to be successful; this proposal would provide community colleges with grants of up to $1.5 million while community college systems would be eligible for up to $5 million. Individual states would also be eligible to receive grants to develop statewide policies that relate to work-based learning. 

Improving Affordability

  • The Diversify Act, introduced by Rep. Garcia [D-IL], would aim to diversify the teacher workforce by eliminating financial barriers to the teacher preparation programs. This bill primarily increases the maximum TEACH Grant award from $4,000 to $8,000 per year. Additionally this bill would protect the TEACH grant award from being cut by the Budget Control Act; eliminate the loan conversion penalty; and allow the TEACH grant to cover the full cost of attendance, rather than solely tuition, fees, and on-campus housing. 

Loans and Repayment

  • The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Improvement Act of 2021, introduced by Rep. Luria [D-VA], would increase the amount of loan forgiveness and loan cancellation available to teachers. This bill increases the amount of loan debt ED would forgive for teachers from $5,000 to $15,000 after the fifth complete school year of teaching. In addition, for teachers in mathematics, science, or special education, ED would increase the loan forgiveness from 17,500 to 30,000.

Military and Veterans Aid

  • The Veteran Education Empowerment Act, introduced by Rep. Frankel [D-FL], would establish grant programs in order to create, maintain, and operate Student Veteran Centers at colleges and universities across the nation. These centers would be designed to give a boost to student veterans as they transition from military to civilian life. Higher education institutions would need to apply for the grant through the Department of Education and meet certain criteria. 
  • The Military Spouse Student Loan Deferment Act, introduced by Rep. Stefanik [R-NY], would allow spouses of members of the military to be eligible to receive student loan deferment because of loss of employment as a result of relocation to accommodate a permanent change in duty station for their military spouse. 
  • The Recognizing Military Service in PSLF Act, introduced by Rep. Courtney [D-CT], would allow periods of military deferments and forbearances to count as qualifying months towards the 120 "payments" needed to obtain Public Service Loan Forgiveness. 
  • The Military and Veteran Caregiver Student Loan Relief Act of 2021, introduced by Rep. Connolly [D-VA], would add an individual’s service as a veteran family caregiver as a public service job for purposes of the public service loan forgiveness program.

Quality and Accountability

  • The Fast Track To and Through College Act, introduced by Sen. Hassan [D-NH], would increase rates of college completion and reduce college costs by accelerating time to degree, aligning secondary and postsecondary education, and improving postsecondary credit transfer. More specifically, this bill would establish a competitive grant program for states to create a comprehensive early college strategy that aligns secondary and postsecondary course work, improves postsecondary credit transfer, and allows federal Pell Grants to cover dual-enrollment costs for low-income students enrolled in a fast track program.

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: 7/12/2021


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