In his second State of the Union address, President Trump did not mention higher education. This did not go unnoticed. Stacey Abrams, 2018 Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, in the Democratic response called on the administration to "face the crippling effect of educational loans" and "invest what is necessary to unleash the power of America's greatest minds."
Senate education committee chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) continues to outline his agenda for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA). Senator Alexander's top priorities are to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, to simplify student loan repayment options and to hold schools accountable for program-level student loan repayment rates. Senator Alexander has continually expressed his commitment to passing a reauthorization bill by the end of 2019, which he said could be achieved by compiling bipartisan bills that have already been considered into a single piece of legislation. His stated goal is to report that legislation out of committee by spring and have the full Senate consider it this summer. From there, the Senate would conference its bill with one passed out of the House, which may look substantially different. This is a likely scenario. Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), chair of the House education committee, also expressed a willingness to reauthorize HEA but noted there are large policy differences between Democrats and Republicans about higher education. Chairman Scott said the House is not interested in only making small changes on which there is consensus, but that a rewrite would need to be comprehensive. Chairman Scott also stated his belief that the federal student loan program should not make a profit. He has also hinted that there could be ways to push accreditors to help lower the cost of institutions' programs.
Meanwhile, negotiated rulemaking at the US Department of education lumbers on. Read about these developments and more in the February 2019 Washington Insights. Click here to view/download a copy of the February 2019 Washington Insights.
Washington Insights provides the latest news, guidance, and inside-the-beltway advice on the complex subject of financial aid in higher education. Washington Insights is prepared by Dr. Sharon Bob, Ph.D., the Distance Education Accrediting Commission's Special Consultant on Student Aid.