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Higher Education Policy Newsletter

May 6, 2019 — Lewis Burke Associates LLC

A VIEW FROM WASHINGTON

Congress returned from a two-week recess to continue work on developing funding proposals for education and other programs for fiscal year 2020.  As part of that process, House Democrats have submitted their proposals for funding education programs at the Department of Education (ED).  Significant negotiations will be needed before a final deal is reached, more details below.  ED has indicated it is likely to pursue pilot experiments with income share agreements (ISA) and allowing more Federal Work-Study money to go toward apprenticeships.  Another recent action taken by the Administration impacting students is a soon to be published regulation to raise visa fees for international students.  This effort corresponds with other regulatory actions that have resulted in a drop in the number of international students attending U.S. institutions.

Congress continues its work on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).  Members of Congress, including those who have indicated they are running for president in 2020, continue to introduce higher education legislation and outline the higher education planks of their presidential platforms.  More information on Congress’s HEA efforts and a spotlight on the higher education platforms of several 2020 contenders is available below. 

IN THIS ISSUE

CONGRESSIONAL UPDATES AND NEWS

Secretary DeVos on the Hill

HEA Hearings Continue in the House and Senate

House Democrats Pitch Increased Spending on Aid and Education Research

Legislative Bills of Note

ADMINISTRATION AND AGENCY UPDATES AND NEWS

Grants to Support Child Care Access for College Students

2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Democratic Presidential Candidates Make Higher Education a Top Issue

FACTS AND FIGURES

SHEEO: Public Student Aid Per FTE

WHAT WE'RE READING
Third Way: A Risky Bet

ACE: Inclusion and Freedom of Expression
 


CONGRESSIONAL UPDATES AND NEWS


Secretary DeVos on the Hill
U.S. Department of Education (ED) Secretary Betsy DeVos testified before the House Education and Labor Committee last month.  This was Secretary DeVos’s first time before the committee under Democratic Leadership.  Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) was generally critical of Secretary DeVos and the Administration, criticizing ED’s fiscal year 2020 budget request and noting, “The President’s proposed cuts to higher education funding are particularly deep.”  Other committee members queried Secretary DeVos on several issues including apprenticeships, student loan debt and servicing, teacher shortages, college costs, and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, among other issues.  Secretary DeVos reiterated her stance on the need to “urgently rethink higher education,” ED’s work to address the cost of higher education by giving students more information, and continued developments of ED’s Next Gen student aid platform.  Several of these efforts may begin to appear on the College Scorecard and in Federal Student Aid initiatives.

Sources and Additional Information:
HEA Hearings Continue in the House and Senate
Education committees in Congress continued their press toward a Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization, holding several HEA related hearings over the last month.  In the House, the Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on the higher education accountability system with the discussion focused on updates to the current accreditation process and the role of state authorization in accountability.  The House committee will continue its series of HEA reviews with a hearing scheduled for May 9 on student outcomes and non-completion.

In the Senate, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held two HEA hearings in April.  The first hearing was on the topic of campus sexual assault and the discussion focused on the Department of Education’s recent notice of proposed rulemaking that outlined significant changes for Title IX compliance.  Members and witnesses challenged the Department’s proposal to require live hearings for sexual assault proceedings and questioned off-campus assault procedures.

The other hearing held in the HELP Committee delved into questions of how to improve upon the current institutional accountability structure to ensure students’ and federal taxpayers’ investments in higher education programs are well-spent.  The discussion emphasized the congressional interest in moving toward programmatic level accountability and a loan repayment metric, as well as concerns over for-profit institutions. 

Sources and Additional Information: House Democrats Pitch Increased Spending on Aid and Education Research
On April 30, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) marked up its funding bill for fiscal year (FY) 2020.  This bill represents a first step in a long process of negotiations.

The subcommittee bill includes $189.8 billion, an $11.7 billion increase over the FY 2019 enacted level, for discretionary programs at the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services.  This funding level is $47.8 billion more than requested in the President’s FY 2020 budget request.  Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) refers to the bill as the “People’s Bill” noting its historically high proposed funding levels and support for programs like Pell Grants, Federal Work Study, and increased funding for medical research.

For the Department of Education (ED), the bill would provide $75.9 billion, fully rejecting the President’s proposed cuts to student aid and higher education programs at ED and largely affirms the higher education community requests for FY 2020.  Of note, the bill would:
  • Increase the Pell Grant maximum award to $6,345 for the 2020-2021 school year, a $150 increase over the previous year.
  • Provide a $188 million increase to the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG) program for total level of $1.028 billion and a $304 million increase to the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program for a total level of $1.434 billion.
  • Provide $150 million for Hispanic Serving Institutions, an increase of $26 million above the 2019 enacted level.
  • Increase the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) by $35 million for a total of $650 million.
  • Increase funding for Teacher Quality Partnerships by $10 million for a total of $53 million.
  • Provide $60 million for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School, an increase of $10 million to the 2019 enacted level.
  • Restart the Centers of Excellence for Veterans Student Success Program with $10 million in funding.
The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the bill on May 8, at which time more details on specific funding levels and policy provisions will be included in the accompanying report. 

Sources and Additional Information:
Legislative Bills of Note
  • S. 976 (Senator Gillibrand, D-NY)- Campus Accountability and Safety Act: This bill reintroduces legislation to combat sexual assault on campus, including changes to disciplinary proceedings and institutional handling of on-campus sexual assault cases.  More specifically, the bill would establish new support services for student survivors on campus; require fairness in disciplinary proceedings; ensure minimum training for on-campus personnel involved in cases; and create new transparency requirements, among other reforms.  This bill was first introduced by Senator Warner (D-VA) in the 113th Congress.
  • H.R. 6 (Rep. Roybal-Allard, D-CA)- American Dream and Promise Act of 2019: This bill would provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for undocumented youth.  The bill’s provisions affect youth who are receiving or eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), temporary protected status (TPS), and/or deferred enforced departure (DED).  Similar to the Dream Act of 2017, the bill also addresses removing barriers to in-state tuition and establishes eligibility for federal financial aid.
  • H.R. 2026 (Rep. Dingell, D-MI), S. 984 (Sen. Casey, D-PA)- Safe Equitable Campus Resources and Education(SECuRE) Act of 2019: This bill aims to provide students with access to school safety resources, especially for students with disabilities.  The SECuRE Act would require campus security personnel and officials who conduct disciplinary proceedings to be trained to work with individuals with disabilities.  The bill would also require institutions to report on how many sex offenses and related crimes involved a victim with a disability.
  • H.R. 2161 (Rep. Banks, R-IN), S. 1072 (Sen. Braun, R-IN)- Pell Flexibility Act of 2019: This bill reforms the Pell Grant program by allowing grants to be used for students in skills-based programs.  The bill aims to help address the country’s workforce skills gap by prioritizing highly demanded skills and creates a pilot program for eligible Title IV institutions.

ADMINISTRATION AND AGENCY UPDATES AND NEWS

Grants to Support Child Care Access for College Students

The Department of Education (ED) released their notice for applications for new awards for the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program that provides grants to institutions to support or establish campus-based child care programs primarily serving the needs of low-income students.  ED anticipates awarding over 130 grants of between $30,000 to $375,000 for this competition.  Applications are due May 31, 2019

Sources and Additional Information:


2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION


Democratic Presidential Candidates Make Higher Education a Top Issue
Higher education policy is emerging as one of the top issues for Democratic presidential candidates in the early days of the 2020 primary election cycle.  Presidential hopefuls, eager to win over younger voters and distinguish themselves in the ever-growing field of candidates, have released a litany of policy proposals aimed at improving college affordability, reducing student debt, and meeting growing workforce needs.  Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has received a significant amount of media attention over her sweeping student loan debt forgiveness proposal, which would eliminate student loan debt for people with household incomes under $250,000, up to a maximum of $50,000 in forgiveness for those under $100,000 in household income. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg have also voiced support for similar debt forgiveness measures.  Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has proposed a more measured plan, which involved eliminating tuition for community colleges, expanding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program eligibility to “in demand jobs,” and increasing the maximum individual Pell Grant award.  California Senator Kamala Harris has called for refinancing of student loans and making income-based repayment plans the standard, which the eventual goal of reaching “debt-free college.”
 
As we near the Democratic primary debates this summer and the first primary elections in early 2020, candidates will continue to define their policy goals when it comes to college affordability, access, and outcomes.  Lewis-Burke will continue to track new higher education policy proposals and provide updates.


FACTS AND FIGURES


State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO): Public Student Aid Per FTE


“Figure 2 shows that states largely protect financial aid during economic downturns. During the worst years of the Great Recession, from 2008-2012, aid increased 7.1 percent while appropriations dropped 24.4 percent. As a result, aid as a percent of appropriations increased from 6.5 to 9.3 percent.”

Source: https://sheeo.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/SHEEO_SHEF_FY18_Report.pdf


WHAT WE'RE READING


Third Way: A Risky Bet
“Even with $120 billion flowing to institutions every year, the federal government has limited safeguards in place to ensure that most federally funded institutions help students graduate, earn a decent living, and pay down their loans over time. Yet, these institutions remain eligible to receive federal funds, with little regard as to whether they are actually leaving students better off after they attend.”

Source: http://thirdway.imgix.net/pdfs/a-risky-bet.pdf


ACE: Inclusion and Freedom of Expression
“Caught in the crosshairs are university leaders who want to do right by their communities such that all voices are heard, without letting deep divisions negatively affect the student experience, compromise the learning environment, or restrict speech.”

Source: https://www.acenet.edu/higher-education/topics/Pages/Inclusion-and-Freedom-of-Expression.aspx
Copyright © 2019 Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, All rights reserved.

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