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.
- S. 1295/HR 2782, RISE Act: This bill, the Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act, requires institutions, through their program participation agreement (PPA), to adopt several policies in support of students with disabilities, including publicly outlining the process by which an institution determines eligibility for accommodations. Institutions would also be required to report data about students with disabilities in federal postsecondary data collection efforts, including in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The bill was introduced by Rep. Bonamici (D-OR) in the House and Sen. Casey (D-PA) in the Senate.
- HR 2926, REACH Act: This bill, the Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act, would require institutions to include hazing incidents in the annual campus security report. In addition, institutions would be required to develop a hazing education program for students. Rep. Meehan (R-PA) sponsored the bill.
- HR 2968, Know Your Repayment Options Act: This bill, introduced by Rep. Swalwell (D-CA), would direct the Department of Education to provide all federal student loan borrowers with personalized repayment guides. The guides would be given to borrowers every year after receiving exit counseling until their federal loans are paid off. The guide described in the bill would tell borrowers their average anticipated monthly payment amount, yearly payment amount, lifetime payment amount, number of months remaining to pay off loans, amount that would be forgiven under all possible plans, and instructions for changing repayment plans.
- HR 3051, Educating Student Loan Borrowers Act: This bill would require federal loan servicers to disclose annually to borrowers a description of available repayment plans, options for public service employees, and loan forgiveness and cancelations options. The disclosures must be branded as from the Department of Education and must be consumer tested. Rep. Welch (D-VT) sponsored this bill.
- HR 3082, FAFSA Translation Act: The bill would require the Department of Education to translate the FAFSA into not fewer than 11 foreign languages, to be determined by the Secretary, and available in paper and on the web. Rep. Meng (D-CA) introduced this bill.
- HR 2944, To Offer Refugees College Help (TORCH) Act: The bill, sponsored by Rep. Huffman (D-CA) with 60 Democratic co-sponsors, would require public institutions to charge in-state tuition to refugees and asylees if the first state the refugee or asylee settled was in the institution's state.
- HR 2848, RISE Act: The Relief and Investment for Student Entrepreneurs (RISE) Act, sponsored by Rep. Gallego (D-AZ), offers a three-year interest-free deferment period for federal student loans to "qualified entrepreneurs." The bill also allows entrepreneurs who start businesses in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones) to receive up to $17,500 in Direct Loan forgiveness.
- S. 1384/HR 2949, Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act: Introduced by Sen. Warner (D-VA) in the Senate and by Rep. Price (D-NC) in the House, this bill would allow a married couple or a previously married couple who pursued a joint loan, to separate their consolidation.
- HR 2970, American Arts Revival Act: This bill would expand eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program for those employed in the arts and humanities. Specifically, the bill would expand PSLF eligibility to include certain cultural workers, museum professionals, artistic professionals, art and humanities professors, and music and art educators. Rep. Velazquez (D-NY) sponsored this bill.
- HR 2976, Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment Act: This piece of legislation would allow federal student loan borrowers who are receiving cancer treatment to defer their loan payments with no interest accrual. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced this piece of legislation.
- HR 2992, Fairness in Forgiveness Act: This bill, sponsored by Rep. Swalwell (D-CA), would expand eligibility for public service loan forgiveness to current and former long-time employees at all 16 privately operated Department of Energy National Laboratories. Eligibility would be retroactive to October 1, 2007.
- S. 1412/HR 3026, Strengthening Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants Act: This piece of legislation 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%. Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Swalwell (D-CA) introduced this bill.
- HR 3134, Transform Student Debt to Home Equity Act: This bill, introduced by Rep. Kaptur (D-OH), authorizes the creation of a two-year pilot program led by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to incentivize borrowers with federal student loan debt to buy certain homes. The pilot program allows HUD and FHFA to offer any assistance to eligible borrowers jointly deemed appropriate, such as more flexible underwriting or a discount on the appraised value of the home. Eligible properties include those owned by HUD, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac (as a result of foreclosure). Eligible applicants include those borrowers with an outstanding balance of principal or interest on FFEL, Direct Loans, or Perkins Loans that are in repayment or in a grace period, but not in litigation, default, or wage garnishment. Eligible applicants may not have owned a home during the past 3 years. The bill has 6 co-sponsors, all Democrats.
- HR 3145, ISA Act: This legislation, the Investing in Student Achievement (ISA) Act, works to establish the legal and tax framework for income-share agreements (ISAs). The bill establishes standard terms and conditions required for a repayment agreement between a private entity and a student to be considered an "income-share agreement" for tax purposes. The bill would exempt proceeds received by a student as part of the income-share agreement to cover education costs from income and asset for need analysis. Rep. Messer (R-IN) sponsored this measure.
- HR 2919, Preserving Teacher Loan Forgiveness for Military Spouses Act: This measure, introduced by Rep. Chabot (R-OH), would allow teacher loan forgiveness for teachers whose period of consecutive employment is interrupted because of military orders requiring their spouse to relocate to a new residence.
- HR 3052, Flexibility to Innovate for College Affordability Act: This bill, introduced by Rep. Welch (D-VT) with one Republican co-sponsor, would establish the "Higher Education Regulatory Reform Task Force," which would be composed of the Secretary of Education (or designee) and higher education community stakeholders. The task force would submit to Congress recommendations to reduce burdensome, duplicative, or ineffective regulations in higher education. Following the task force's work, the President is tasked with producing and submitting to Congress a bill to address the task force's recommendations; the bill would receive expedited consideration. In addition, the bill would allow, through the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI), the Secretary to waive grant and loan maximums for an experiment at institutions that would prorate additional aid to students enrolled over the minimum full-time courseload. Further, the Secretary would also have full waiver authority through ESI to conduct other experiments, including prior learning assessments, dual enrollment, and non-accredited competency-based education.
- HR 2961, Remedial Education Improvement Act: This bill would authorize the Secretary of Education to provide competitive grants, not less than $500,000, to institutions for the purpose of improving remedial education, specifically through five models: aligning coursework, accelerated coursework, modular instruction, co-requisite enrollment, and systemic reform. Rep. Norcross (D-NJ) sponsored this bill.
- HR 2960, Community College Student Success Act: This piece of legislation, introduced by Rep. Meng (D-NY), would authorize a new competitive grant program for community colleges, specifically for these institutions to increase graduation and transfer rates.
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