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Administration Rolls Back Regulations on Student Loan Defaults. The Trump administration reversed guidance from the Obama administration that forbade student loan debt collectors from charging high fees to defaulted borrowers. Loan guarantee agencies that collect on defaulted debt will now be permitted to charge borrowers who have defaulted on their federal student loans fees up to 16% on their student loan balances. In a Dear Colleague letter, the Department of Education told guarantee agencies to disregard a July 2015 memorandum issued by the Obama administration limiting the charges. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos asking the department to uphold the Obama administration’s guidance.
DeVos Visits Community College to Discuss Dual Enrollment. Education Secretary DeVos visited a Florida community college to highlight dual-enrollment programs that let students earn college credits while still in high school. DeVos participated in two roundtable discussions with students at Valencia College, a community college that offers high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses during and after school hours, over summer break and online. Dual-enrollment programs have had broad bipartisan support. Last year, the Obama administration unveiled a pilot program to allow the use of Pell Grants by high school students simultaneously taking college. Former President Barack Obama visited Valencia, as did former Education Secretary John B. King Jr. In 2011, Valencia was the first winner of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill for Dual Enrollment. Lawmakers reintroduced a bipartisan bill that would offer grants to colleges and universities to start dual-enrollment programs. The Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act is sponsored by Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY).
Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Student With Disabilities. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision which expands the scope of students’ special education rights. The court ruled unanimously that schools must do more than provide a “merely more than de minimis” education program to a student with a disability. In Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, the high court rejected the “merely more than de minimis” standard set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch has used the now-rejected precedent in a case in the past, a point that was quickly noted by opponents of the nominee. The father of the student ruled against in that case testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, regarding Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Politico reports.
ESSA Tracker Site. The National Association of State Boards of Education launched a website that tracks all 50 states’ boards of education meeting minutes regarding Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plans. The first deadline for state accountability plans under the ESSA is April 3. Many state boards of education are meeting this month to vote on policies such as school accountability systems and how federal dollars are distributed.
We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of March 27, 2017. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.