DC Shuttle …
Obama administration proposes new rules on for-profit colleges. The administration proposed new rules to govern for-profit colleges. One rule would limit how much debt students can amass in career-training programs. The proposal is the second attempt by the Obama administration to set “gainful employment” standards. Part of a rule issued in 2011 was struck down in court last year. The administration says the rules will protect consumers from predatory programs while for-profit colleges say that the rules hurt low-income students. If finalized, the regulations would take effect in 2016. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported and the Washington Post reported on the new proposal.
House committee conducts hearings on student loans and charter schools. The House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training held a hearing on student loan rehabilitation. In coordination with the hearing, the Government Accountability Office released a report which titled, “Better Oversight Could Improve Defaulted Loan Rehabilitation.” “The GAO report’s findings are extremely troubling, and contradict the department’s previous claims that the system was working as intended,” said Subcommittee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC). The full committee held a hearing on charter schools. Committee Chair John Kline (R-MN) expressed great support for charter schools, noting that the House-passed Student Success Act (H.R. 5) included provisions to reauthorize the Charter Schools Program and encourage the growth and expansion of these institutions.
Senate approves child care changes. The Senate approved a bill (S. 1086) to make over the multibillion-dollar Child Care and Development Block Grant program. Passed by a vote of 96 to 2, the bill would bolster the quality and safety of existing programs, which receive $5.3 billion annually in federal funding, plus matching state grants. “Child care has not been re-evaluated since 1996. At that time, the program was solely envisioned as a workforce aid,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). States would be required to improve programs by increasing staff training or providing better consumer information, and by 2018 would be required to spend 10% of their funding, up from 4% now, to improve the quality of child-care programs. The bill faces an uncertain future in the House.
Report calls for acceptance of college-rating system. A report published by the New America Foundation is supportive of a proposed federal database that would provide more expansive data about how colleges are performing and critical of the higher education industry for resisting the effort.
Report on STEM at smaller colleges. The Council of Independent Colleges released a report, Strengthening the STEM Pipeline: The Contributions of Small and Mid-Sized Independent Colleges, which highlights the role of smaller institutions in promoting and teaching STEM. According to the report, small and medium-sized institutions disproportionately prepare students for graduate studies and careers in STEM.
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 17, 2014.
Founded in 1925, the New England Council is a nonpartisan alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations throughout New England formed to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the New England region. The Council’s mission is to identify and support federal public policies and articulate the voice of its membership regionally and nationally on important issues facing New England. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.