DC Shuttle …
Student loan debt at forefront of education discussion. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asked that the Senate take up a vote on the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act (S.2432) which she sponsors. The bill would allow those with outstanding student loans to refinance them to today’s lower rates of less than 4%. The difference would be paid for by the “Buffet Rule”—raising tax rates for people who earn between $1 million and $2 million. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), an original co-sponsor of the bill, also called for its passage, emphasizing its importance to the students of New Hampshire. “This is especially important to us in New Hampshire because we rank 2nd in the country in average debt per graduate, at nearly $33,000. And according to recent estimates, almost 130,000 New Hampshire residents could benefit from this bill.” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) ultimately objected to Warren’s request and no vote was held on the bill. At a Politico event addressing student loan debt, Warren reiterated her dedication to seeing the bill through. “The next step,” she said, “is we’re gonna have to keep hitting at this.” The bill is part of a ‘Fair Shot Agenda’ announced by democrats ahead of the November elections.
Sen. Angus King (I-ME) introduced The Repay Act, a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) which would consolidate repayment plans into either a 10-year fixed plan or single, simplified income-driven repayment option. “This bipartisan proposal dramatically simplifies loan repayment by consolidating many of the benefits of the existing plans, making it easier for students to decide which option best fits their needs and lowering the chance that borrowers will fall behind on their payments. It’s a win for both students and taxpayers,” said King. The senators also co-authored an opinion piece explaining the bill in the Portland Press Herald.
Feds sue Corinthian. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced it is suing Corinthian Colleges to release students of $569 million in debt still owed to the school, and refund students for private loans they have already paid off dating back to July 2011.The CFPB slammed the school, alleging that it lured students in with false promises and then left students strapped with debt. “We want to put an end to these predatory practices and get relief for the students who are bearing the weight of more than half a billion dollars in Corinthian’s private student loans,” said CFPB Director Richard Corday.
House Democrats unveil education spending bill. Democratic members of the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee, led by the Subcommittee’s ranking member Rep. Rosa De Lauro (D-CT) unveiled an education funding proposal. The proposal highlights Republicans’ inaction, having failed to introduce a bill on the issue for the past two years. The bill tackles many K-12 issues, including providing funding for the education of low-income children and children with disabilities. The bill would return programs to pre-sequester funding levels but not fund several administration requests for new grants. In higher education, the House Democrats proposed matching the administration’s request to increase the maximum Pell Grant $100 per year to $5,830.
White House launches campaign against campus sexual assault. President Obama and Vice President Biden introduced “It’s On Us,” an awareness campaign urging men to become more involved in the prevention of sexual assault on campus. The campaign builds on the work of the White House Task Force on Sexual Assault formed in January, and will include multiple PSAs and partnerships with organizations, social media platforms, and campus student bodies. “We’re confident with this initiative—which includes everyone, with full engagement—we will be able to end sexual assault and change the culture of sexual assault,” a senior White House official said. Last month, Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, a bill that would hold colleges and universities more accountable for taking steps to prevent and properly deal with sexual assault on campus.
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 Sept. 22, 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.