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.
- HR 4508, PROSPER Act: The Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act is a comprehensive Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization bill with notable changes to the federal student aid programs. The bill was introduced by Chairwoman Foxx (R-NC) on December 1, and was successfully passed out of committee on December 13. For more information and resources, see NASFAA's PROSPER Act page.
- S. 2224, Empowering Student Borrowers Act: This piece of legislation, sponsored by Sen. Donnelly (D-IN), would require institutions to disclose to students an annual estimate of student loan borrowing costs (debt letter) for both federal and private loans (of which the institution is aware of). The estimates must include cumulative balances and projected monthly payments. Estimates must be provided to students in "hard copy format" on institutional letterhead by electronic mail and delivered separately from other disclosures in HEA. In addition, the bill would require the Department of Education to develop best practices for financial literacy.
- HR 4715, Truth in Tuition Act: This bill would require institutions to provide to each admitted undergraduate or graduate student a multi-year tuition and fee schedule or a single-year tuition and fee schedule with a multi-year estimate of future costs. Rep. Cartwright (D-PA) sponsored this bill.
- HR 4662, Student Aid Enhancement Act: Sponsored by Rep. Lawson (D-FL), the bill would exclude the income and assets of dependent students in the calculation of the expected family contribution (EFC).
- S. 2207, Volunteer First Responder Loan Forgiveness Act: This bill would add "qualified volunteer first responder," which may include "firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical personnel, or other first responders to emergencies," to those eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Sen. Tester (D-MT) introduced this bill.
- HR 4584, Student Security Act: This bill, sponsored by Rep. Garrett (R-VA), 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.
- HR 4597, College Loan Deferment for Recovery Act: This bill would allow federal student loan borrowers (Direct Loans, FFELP, and Perkins) enrolled in a "drug treatment program," which must be "certified or licensed by a State to provide drug treatment in the State," to defer their loans for the period of enrollment in the drug treatment program and 30 days following enrollment. Interest on Unsubsidized Stafford Loans would not accrue. Rep. MacArthur (R-NJ) introduced this bill.
- S. 2258, Domenic's Law: Sponsored by Sen. Portman (R-OH), This bill would allow a parent whose dependent develops a total and permanent disability to qualify for student loan discharge of loans borrowed on behalf of the dependent for his or her education.
- S. 2201, ASPIRE Act: This bill, led by Sen. Coons (D-DE), would fine the bottom five percent of institutions based on percentages of enrolled first time, full time Pell Grant recipients and use the funds to reward institutions with competitive funds to increase access and success efforts. Additionally, the bottom five percent of institutions based on six-year graduation rates would risk paying a penalty before eventually losing Title IV eligibility or schools can opt-in to the bill's completion standards.
- HR 4658, Protecting Students from Worthless Degrees Act: This bill would require programs offered by an institution designed to lead to a recognized occupation or profession that requires licensing or other requirements to meet any federal or state accreditation and licensing requirements. The bill also adds additional certification requirements for gainful employment (GE) programs, including ensuring the GE program is approved by a recognized accrediting agency (either institutionally or programmatically depending on if programmatic accreditation is required by a Federal or state entity) and prohibiting a GE program that is substantially similar to a program that in any of the three years prior became ineligible (or was failing or in the zone) due to the debt to earning rates at the same institution. Rep. Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) sponsored this bill.
- S. 2231, Student Protection and Success Act: Citing problems with the current default rate metric, this bill would replace default rates with a new measure of institutional accountability based on Direct Loan repayment rates. The bill, covered in Today's News, would require a school’s repayment rate to be high enough to justify continued participation in the federal student loan program. Schools with repayment rates that do not exceed a certain cut-off rate would lose eligibility to participate in the Direct Loan Program, Perkins Loan Program, and Pell Grant Program for at least two fiscal years. Sen. Shaheen (D-NH) introduced this bill.
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