With 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.
- H.R. 3547 — The Students and Young Consumers Empowerment Act introduced by Rep. Bonamici, [D-OR] would establish the position of Assistant Director and Student Loan Borrower Advocate of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, and establish the Office for Students and Young Consumers of the Bureau
- S. 2015 — The Student Loan Disclosure Modernization Act sponsored by Sen. Scott [R-SC] would establish a plain language disclosure form for student borrowers.
- H.R. 3519 — The Better Service to Borrowers Act of 2019 sponsored by Rep. Schrier [D-WA] would establish a standardized manual for loan servicers to ensure quality of servicing.
- H.R. 3487 — The PRO Students Act sponsored by Rep. Takano [D-CA] addresses several issues regarding institutional accountability and consumer protections. The bill seeks to reform the 90-10 rule to 85-15, establish a Proprietary Education Oversight Coordination Committee, and restrict the usage of federal student aid dollars to fund institutional marketing and recruitment. The bill would require institutions to deliver a disclosure statement to students before they complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN).
- H.R. 3354 — The Time for Completion Act introduced by Rep. Fudge [D-OH] would require institutions to report the percentage of students who complete their program on time, 150 percent of the normal time, 200 percent of the normal time, and 300 percent of the normal time. This information would be desegregated by program and type of student.
- H.R. 3095 — The Know Your Repayment Options Act introduced by Rep. Swalwell [D-CA] would require that each student borrower be given an individualized repayment guide.
- H.R. 3391 — The To Offer Refugees College Help (TORCH) Act sponsored by Rep. Huffman [D-CA] would require states to provide in-state tuition rates to refugees and asylees.
- H.R. 3448 — The Student Debt Cancellation Act of 2019 introduced by Rep. Omar [D-MN] would forgive eligible federal student loans, including Parent PLUS loan debt, consolidated loans, and grants treated as loans. The bill would also allow for the temporary purchase and forgiveness of private student loans. The forgiven debt would be excluded from taxable income.
- H.R. 3418 — The Protecting Our Students by Terminating Graduate Rates that Add to Debt Act sponsored by Rep. Chu [D-CA] would reinstate subsidized loan eligibility for graduate and professional students.
- H.R. 3353 — The Parent PLUS Loan Improvement Act of 2019 sponsored by Rep. Fudge [D-OH] would expand income-contingent and income-based repayment plan eligibility to Parent PLUS loans.
- H.R. 3257 — The Student Loan Fairness Act introduced by Rep. Bass [D-CA] would reform direct loan interest rates, loan repayment, and loan forgiveness. It would establish a 10/10 Loan Repayment Plan in which monthly payments would be set at 10% of a borrower's adjusted gross income beyond 150% of the poverty line. Borrowers can apply to have up to $45,520 of student debt forgiven after 10 years of consecutive payments. This forgiven debt would be excluded from taxable income. The bill would also cap direct loan interest rates at 3.4%. It would reduce the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) repayment criteria from 120 to 60 consecutive monthly payments. The bill would offer the option for borrowers to consolidate their private loans under federal direct loan consolidation.
- H.R. 3150 — The Rural and Underserved Residencies to Attract Long-term Physicians Act introduced by Rep. Watkins [R-KS] would provide interest-free deferment on student loans for borrowers serving in certain medical or dental internships or residency programs.
- H.R. 3139 — The Supporting the Teaching profession through Revitalizing Investments in Valuable Educators Act introduced by Rep. Norcross [D-NJ] would reform TEACH Grants and loan forgiveness for teachers. Under this bill, teachers who hold positions in English as a second language, special education, STEM, or career and technical education, could qualify for an annual 15% debt forgiveness during the first five years of repayment and have their full debt forgiven in their sixth year of repayment. For teachers who do not hold a position in those subjects, they can qualify an annual 10% forgiveness for the first six years of repayment and receive full debt forgiveness in their seventh year of repayment. The bill would clarify that prospective or current early childhood teachers could apply for a TEACH grant to obtain a graduate degree.
- H.R. 3102 — The Helping Individuals Get a Higher Education while Reducing Education Debt (HIGHER ED) Act introduced by Rep. DeFazio [D-OR] would reinstate subsidized loan eligibility for graduate and professional students and would allow student debt to be discharged under bankruptcy. Under this bill, borrowers could refinance Direct loans and refinance FFEL loans as refinanced Direct loans. Additionally, this bill would establish a Federal Direct Refinanced Private Loan Program which would allow borrowers to refinance private loans to have the same terms and conditions as federal direct unsubsidized loans. The bill would reform loan forgiveness programs by expanding eligibility for adjunct faculty and would provide 50% debt forgiveness to students who make 60 consecutive monthly payments in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. If enacted, partial forgiveness would also be retroactive. This bill would also reduce the number of repayment plan options: borrowers would have the option for a standard 10-year repayment plan, or an income-based repayment plan. Income-based repayment plans would be extended up to 25 years and the adjusted gross income cap to qualify for $0 monthly loan payments would be increased from 150 to 225% of the national poverty level.
- H.R. 3096 — The Strengthening Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants Act introduced by Rep. Swalwell [D-CA] would remove the "all or nothing" component of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and allow borrowers employed in public service jobs to receive a percentage of forgiveness if employed in a public service job for less than 10 years. The percentage of the loan that is cancelled varies: for 2-5 years, 15%; for 6-9 years, 20%; and for 10 years, 30%.
- S. 1845 — The If It's Good Enough For the Banks, It's Good Enough For Students Act sponsored by Sen. Merkley [D-OR] would enable students to refinance federal loans at the same interest rates as the loans banks receive from the federal government. The refinanced interest rate would be fixed for the period of the loan.
- S. 1696 — The Student Loan Tax Elimination Act sponsored by Sen. Braun [R-IN] would eliminate origination fees on student loans.
- H.R. 3472 / S. 1947 — The bicameral College for All Act of 2019 introduced by Rep. Jayapal [D-WA] in the House and Sen. Sanders [I-VT] in the Senate would create a federal and state partnership to eliminate tuition at public 4-year colleges and universities and tribal colleges for students. The bill would cut interest rates and impose an interest rate cap of 1.88% for undergraduate, parent, and graduate borrowers, while also allowing borrowers to refinance loans at the current interest rates. Any excess revenue in the Direct Loan Program would be redirected into the Pell Grant Program. The bill would also increase Federal Work Study (FWS) authorized funding levels and revise the FWS allocation formula by eliminating the "base guarantee" component in the current formula. In addition, TRIO and GEAR UP would see increases to authorized funding levels.
- H.R. 3598 / S. 2049 — The bicameral and bipartisan FREED Vets Act introduced by Rep. Lamb [D-PA] in the House and Sen. Red [D-RI] in the Senate would automatically discharge federal student loans for veterans who have been assigned a rating of total disability or have been determined by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to be unemployable due to a service-connected condition.
- H.R. 3512 / S. 867 — The Preventing Risky Operations from Threatening the Education and Career Trajectories of Students (PROTECT) Act of 2019, introduced by Rep. Lee [D-NV] in the House and Sen. Hassan in the Senate, would address the GI Bill loophole and reform protections for student loan borrowers. The bill would close the GI Bill loophole by including funds from the Department of Veteran Affairs and Department of Defense in the definition of federal education assistance funds and would revert to a 85:15 revenue ratio for proprietary institutions. This bill would reform the process for proprietary institutions to convert to non-profit status and would establish an interagency committee for the federal oversight of for-profit schools. Additionally, the bill would prohibit Title IV institutions from including pre-dispute mandatory arbitration clauses or class action bans from their student enrollment agreements and bolster the 2016 borrower defense rule. Finally, the bill would ban the usage of federal education assistance funds for marketing and recruitment.
- H.R. 3369 — The Defending All Veterans In Education Act sponsored by Rep. Shalala [D-FL] aims to close the GI Bill loophole. It would require proprietary institutions to receive no less than 20% of its revenue from non-federal funds. Additionally, this bill clarifies the definition of federal funds to include GI bill benefits except for the monthly housing stipend provided under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program.
- H.R. 3497 — The bipartisan Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students Act of 2019 introduced by Rep. Richmond [D-LA] would establish a Job Training Federal Pell Grant Program. It would allow Pell Grant funds to be used for short-term job training programs at an institution of higher education.
- H.R. 3334 — The bipartisan Expanding Access to Graduate Education Act of 2019 sponsored by Rep. Kuster [D-NH] would allow students to use Pell grants for graduate studies.
- H.R. 3268 / S. 1888 — The bicameral Go to High School, Go to College Act of 2019 introduced by Rep. Fudge [D-OH] in the House and Sen. Portman [R-OH] in the Senate would permit high school students to receive Pell Grant funds for completing college coursework while in high school, such as through dual enrollment programs.
- H.R. 3101 — The AID Act sponsored by Rep. DeFazio, Peter A. [D-OR] would increase the Pell Grant maximum award to $10,230 and index the maximum award to inflation for subsequent award years. In addition, the bill would expand Pell Grant eligibility to certain short-term programs and increase the semester eligibility limit to 15 semesters from 12. The bill would require annual loan counseling and uses the counseling language in the PROSPER Act however, this bill would not require annual counseling for Pell Grant recipients. The bill would increase funds for the campus-based programs and would revise their allocation formulas. The allocation formula for federal work-study funds would consider the amount of Pell eligible students at an institution, as well as institutional improvement. The bill would eliminate the drug conviction provision for student eligibility and requires a financial aid shopping sheet as a nationwide standardized student aid award letter. Finally, the bill would allow certain students to qualify for SNAP based on EFC or certain dependency status questions.
- H.R. 3179 / S. 1775 — The bicameral Protecting Our Students and Taxpayers (POST) Act of 2019 Introduced by Rep. Cohen [D-TN] in the House and Sen. Durbin [D-IL] in the Senate would prohibit institutions from using federal education funds, including Title IV and VA benefit dollars, for marketing, advertising, or recruiting
- H.R. 3112 — The For-Profit Fraud Act sponsored by Rep. Waters [D-CA] would restore the 85/15 ratio for proprietary institutions from the current 90/10 rule
- H.R. 3098 — The Student Loan Interest Deduction Act of 2019 sponsored by Rep. Swalwell [D-CA] would modify the tax deduction for student loan interest to increase the maximum deduction for interest paid on any qualified education loan to $5,000 ($10,000 for married couples filing a joint tax return), and to repeal the limitation on the deduction based upon modified adjusted gross income.
- H.R. 3470 — The Earl N. Williams, Sr., First Chance Act introduced by Rep. Davis [D-IL] would establish a Basic and Emergency Supplemental Living Assistance Grant that would be given to institutions to allocate to their students through their student support offices. The grant maximum would be $500 per academic year. The bill would require that there be consultation between the student, student services office, and the financial aid office.
- S. 1803 — The bipartisan Educational Opportunity and Success Act of 2019 introduced by Sen. Collins [R-ME] would adjust TRIO eligibility criteria to align with FAFSA requirements so that students’ FAFSA information can be used to determine TRIO eligibility. For example, Pell eligibility would be used as a marker for to determine TRIO income eligibility.
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