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.

April 2017

Campus-Based Programs

  • S. 306/HR 1880, College for All Act: Sen. Sanders (I-VT) signature bill, this comprehensive piece of legislation would create a grant program to states to eliminate tuition at public 4-year colleges and universities and tribal colleges for students from any family making $125,000 or less. The bill would cut interest rates and impose an interest rate cap of 5% for undergraduate borrowers and 8.25% for graduate and parent 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. Rep. Pramila (D-WA) sponsored the House companion. 

Consumer Information & Transparency

  • S. 888, Understanding the True Cost of College Act: This bill would require a standardized financial aid award letter that includes cost of attendance, grant aid, net cost after subtracting grant aid, work study assistance, eligible amounts of federal student loans, expected federal loan monthly repayment amounts, and several disclosures. Introduced by Sen. Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Franken (D-MN) in previous sessions of Congress, the bill was covered in Today's News in 2012. 
  • S. 889, Net Price Calculator Improvement Act: This bill seeks to improve existing net price calculators (NPC) and permits the Department of Education to develop a consumer-tested universal NPC. Introduced by Sen. Grassley (R-IA) in previous sessions of Congress, the bill was covered in Today's News in 2013. 
  • HR 2151/S. 954Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act: This bill would require institutions to establish an anti-harassment policy prohibiting the harassment of enrolled students based on their actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. Institutions would be required to distribute their anti-harassment policy to all students and employees, including prospective students and employees, upon request. In addition, the bill authorizes an anti-bullying higher education competitive grant program. Sen. Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Pocan (D-WI) sponsored this bill. 

FAFSA Simplification

  • HR 2015, Equitable Student Aid Access ActIntroduced by Rep. Doggett (D-TX) with 67 Democratic co-sponsors, this bill would add receipt of a federal means-tested benefits program (such as SSI, SNAP, and Medicaid) as a sole qualifier for an auto-zero expected family contribution (EFC) determination. This change would allow students and families who have already demonstrated high need to automatically qualify for maximum federal student aid, thereby reducing the FAFSA to personal identity and non-income eligibility questions. In addition, the bill codifies the Early FAFSA and use of prior-prior year (PPY) tax information put into place by former President Barrack Obama via executive action in fall 2015, ensuring that students will continue to be able submit their federal financial aid application for the coming school year in October rather than in January using data financial data filed with the IRS two years prior. Covered in Today's News, this bill, supported by NASFAA, would put in place the core of "path 1" of NASFAA's FAFSA Working Group Report

Immigration

  • HR 2070, FAFSA for All Act: The bill would require the Department of Education to include guidance on how dependent students with noncitizen parents may obtain federal student aid. In addition, the bill includes provisions for an online upload tool to streamline the application process for these students. Rep. Veasey (D-TX) sponsored this bill. 
  • HR 2071, American Dream Promise Act: This bill would add, as condition of receiving federal student aid, to program participation agreements (PPAs) that "the institution will not deny a student admission at such institution on the basis of the student’s immigration or naturalization status." Rep. Veasey (D-TX) sponsored this bill. 
  • HR 2072, FIFA Act: The Fairness in Financial Aid (FIFA) Act would allow applicants to provide a social security number or a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) in order to receive a Personal Identification Number to use on the FAFSA. The change aims to ensure that mixed-status immigrant families are not prevented from accessing eligible financial aid. Rep. Veasey (D-TX) sponsored this bill. 

Loans & Repayment

  • S. 306/HR 1880, College for All Act: Sen. Sanders (I-VT) signature bill, this comprehensive piece of legislation would create a grant program to states to eliminate tuition at public 4-year colleges and universities and tribal colleges for students from any family making $125,000 or less. The bill would cut interest rates and impose an interest rate cap of 5% for undergraduate borrowers and 8.25% for graduate and parent 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. Rep. Pramila (D-WA) sponsored the House companion. 
  • S. 848, Reigniting Opportunity for Innovators Act: This bill, sponsored by Sen. Hassan (D-NH), aims to encourage entrepreneurship by providing the option for non-interest accruing deferment to qualifying small business start-up founders and employees for up to three years. In addition, if the start-up is located in an "economically distressed" area, founders and employees are eligible for loan cancellation up to $20,000. 
  • HR 1909, Environmental Health Workforce ActSponsored by Rep. Lawrence (D-MI), this bill would, among other provisions, add full-time "environmental health workers" as a qualifying occupation for the purposes of public service loan forgiveness (PSLF). 
  • HR 1937, Student Security Act: This bill would provide loan forgiveness "credits" to federal student loan borrowers in exchange for voluntarily delaying receipt of social security benefits. Each credit equals $550 in loan cancellations. The number of credits a borrower elects to receive delays receipt of social security benefits by the equivalent number of months. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Garrett (R-VA).
  • HR 2042, Access to Frontline Health Care Act: This bill, introduced by Rep. Loebsack (D-IA), would establish a "Frontline Providers Loan Repayment Program" within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Public Health Service Act. The new loan repayment program would allow for repayment assistance for health professionals who commit to two years of service in "frontline scarcity areas." Amount of loan repayment assistance to be determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. 

Pell Grants

  • S. 840, Go to High School, Go to College Act: This piece of legislation would permit early college high school students to receive Pell Grant funds for completing college coursework while in high school, such as through dual enrollment programs. Any Pell Grant received through this expansion would count towards a student's Pell Grant lifetime eligibility limit, though the Secretary of Education may waive this provision on a case-by-case basis "for any student demonstrating evidence of a credible disruption or redirection in course of study necessitating additional time to complete a postsecondary degree or credential." The bill, again introduced by Sen. Portman (R-OH), was covered in Today's News in 2015. 
  • S. 900/HR 2084, Year-Round Pell Grant Restoration Act: This bill would reinstate year-round Pell by allowing continuously enrolled students to receive more than one scheduled award in an award year. While still maintaining the 12-semester or equivalent limit, the bill would allow students to draw down from a “well” of Pell funds at their own pace. Sen. Hirono (D-HI) and Rep. Royball-Allard (D-CA) sponsored this bill, supported by NASFAA, that ultimately became the framework of the year-round Pell Grant restoration in the omnibus spending bill.

Quality & Accountability

  • S. 850 / HR 1922, Foreign Medical School Accountability Fairness Act: This bill would eliminate an exemption of certain medical schools outside of the United States and Canada from federal student aid requirements. The bill requires all medical schools outside of the U.S. and Canada to enroll at least 60 percent non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and their graduates must have at least a 75 percent pass rate on the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam. Any U.S. student enrolled before the enactment of the legislation would retain access to Direct Loans. Sen. Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Burgess (R-TX) sponsored this bill. 
  • S. 856 / HR 1949, Campus Accountability and Safety Act: This bill, aimed at addressing campus sexual assault, would establish several new requirements for colleges and universities relating to campus safety, including significantly increasing fines for Clery Act violations. Sen. McCaskill (D-MO) and Rep. Maloney (D-NY) sponsored this bill. 
  • HR 2007, Kids Before Cons Act: This bill, introduced by Rep. Collins (R-NY), would prohibit the Department of Education from using experimental sites authority to waive the prohibition of incarcerated individuals from receiving federal student aid. The Department would also be prohibited from using experimental sites authority to award funds to institutions directly for the purposes of providing postsecondary education to incarcerated individuals. 

 

 

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: 5/10/2017


Related Content

House Hearing Explores Balance Between Better Student Data and Privacy

MORE | ADD TO FAVORITES

NASFAA Policy Update

MORE | ADD TO FAVORITES

VIEW ALL
View Desktop Version