Here's How Washington Could Shape Higher Education in 2018

"The year ahead could usher in significant changes in the federal government's role in higher education. Events set in motion in 2017 will loom large, though resolutions may be years in the making. Here are a few things worth watching in the coming months," according to The Washington Post.

Senate higher education bill: Universities, families, lenders and anyone with ties to higher education should be interested in how the Senate addresses the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965. House Republicans took the first major step in December by introducing legislation to overhaul the federal law governing almost every aspect of higher education. Chief among the proposed changes is the consolidation of loan programs, caps on the amount of money parents and graduate students can borrow, and the end of loan forgiveness for public sector workers.

'Getting rid of the loan forgiveness program would be a dramatic policy shift from what we’ve seen for the past few decades,' said Mary Clare Amselem, an education policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank. 'It’s so politically contentious, but there is an appetite for it.'


Borrower defense and gainful employment: The U.S. Department of Education is in the early stages of rewriting two regulations the Obama administration said were needed to protect students who rely on federal funding to pursue a degree. It took years to produce the gainful employment rule, which withholds student aid from career-training programs if too many graduates cannot earn enough money to repay their loans. For-profit colleges have fought the mandate, claiming it unfairly targets their sector. Student advocates suspect the Trump administration, which has already delayed enforcing the rule, will hastily create a watered down version — to the benefit of the for-profit industry.

Many anticipate a similar approach to the borrower defense to repayment statute, which erases federal loans for students whose colleges used illegal or deceptive tactics to get them to borrow. The decades-old rule was revised last year to simplify the claims process and shift more of the cost of discharging loans onto schools. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the revision created a muddled process that put taxpayers on the hook, and as a result, policy analysts suspect the new rule will limit loan forgiveness. The department is already moving in that direction by granting partial debt relief to people who have filed claims under the existing law."

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Publication Date: 1/2/2018

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