Democrats Introduce Higher Ed Bill Introduced in House: A bill aimed to make college moreaffordable by streamlining financial aid and reducing debt was introduced by Democratic representatives this week. The bill is viewed as Committee Democrats’ wish list for higher education reform including measures that increase Pell Grants, hold for-profit institutions to more stringent oversight, and allow Americans access to free two-year community colleges. The text clearly rebuts the PROSPER Act, which seeks to reduce the federal government’s role in the financing of higher education and was reported out of Committee to the full House on a party-line vote in December 2017.
Reauthorization of Perkins Act Awaits Trump’s Signature: Congress has approved the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and sent the bill to be signed by President Trump, who applauded the passage of the bipartisan bill. Last updated in 2006, the bill is the largest source of federal funding for public high schools with grants totalling more than $1 billion to build and support CTE in high schools. One of the key updates is a requirement for schools to make such programs fit with the needs of the local communities. Additionally, the Education Secretary and states will no longer need to negotiate individual states’ goals; rather, the secretary will simply be responsible for approving plans that meet the law’s standards. This change was made to appease Senators on both sides who had expressed concern over agency power.
Proposed Rewrite of Borrower Defense Regulations Published: The Trump Administration’s proposed rewrite of Obama Administration rules that established requirements for students seeking federal loan forgiveness. Among other shifts, which are anticipated to increase the burden of proof for student borrowers, the proposed rules require that students demonstrate that a school knowingly deceived them. The rules also require students to prove such claims as individuals rather than as a group, a measure opponents argue disproportionately affects vulnerable students.
Office of Federal Student Aid Releases Mobile-Friendly FAFSA: Over the weekend, the U.S. Department of Education upgraded to a mobile-friendly website for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications. The Office of Federal Student Aid, an office within the Department of Education, also released a beta version of an app they plan to unroll in October in preparation for 2019-2020 applications.
Department of Education Investigating Temple University: Temple University’s online MBA program has come under scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Education after reports revealed that the public university recruitment strategy involved deceptive marketing strategies. This comes as a blow to the program which has been rated the best online MBA program by U.S. News and World Report for the past four years. In January, it became public that employees had inflated students’ test scores for the sake of rankings.