College Enrollment Sinks to 10-Year Low

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

New Data Shows Higher Education Enrollment Reaches 10-Year Low. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center published a study showing the number of students enrolled in college has fallen below 18 million for the first time in a decade. Overall higher education enrollment for the fall 2019 semester fell 1.3%. Four year, for-profit schools posted the biggest drop, and public two- and four-year institutions and private nonprofits also saw enrollment decreases. However, enrollment at private nonprofit institutions that enroll at least 10,000 students saw a 2.7% increase during the period. Read more in Education Dive

U.S. Education Department Could Get $1.3B Spending Bump for FY 2020. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a budget bill that would increase funding for higher education programs and scientific research, disregarding the deep cuts proposed by the Trump administration. The Senate is expected to pass the 2020 fiscal year spending bill that includes an increase of $1.3 billion for the Education Department over enacted FY2019 spending. Though the final bill does not meet the level of education and research increases the House has proposed, several higher education experts have praised the bipartisan budget deal as a solid victory for higher education. The maximum Pell Grant would increase by $150, to keep in pace with inflation. The bill also contains language to force the Education Department to hold federal student loan servicers accountable for poor performance, such as providing inaccurate information to borrowers or breaking consumer protection laws. The bill denies the Trump administration’s request to eliminate Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants and slash Federal Work Study funding in half, instead granting it a collective $75 million increase from FY2019 enacted levels. Read more in Politico and Inside Higher Education.

Senators Meet with NCAA Over Student Athlete Compensation. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) met behind closed doors with NCAA President Mark Emmert to address the increasingly prevalent debate over college athlete pay. Nearly 30 states are considering some form of legislation that addresses NCAA athlete compensation, prompting Emmert and the senators to elevate the discussion to a federal level. Romney and Murphy have formed a bipartisan working group with two other senators to hold meetings with stakeholders and explore legislative options to make the system more equitable for college athletes. “I would like to see us work with the NCAA and work with student athletes to try to come up with a federal solution that not only addresses the issue of having access to revenue through name, image and likeness, but also speaks to issues of broader compensation and perhaps a fairer mechanism of compensation than simply making money off of endorsement deals,” ” said Murphy. Read more in The Washington Post.

Ed Department Ends Competency-Based Education Experiments. The Department of Education announced that is ending experiments that allowed participating colleges with competency-based education (CBE) programs to receive federal aid. Launched in 2014, the experiments waived federal aid rules for colleges with CBE programs in an effort to collect data for policy decisions regarding CBE programs. The experiments are ending after the agency crafted new regulatory language that could affect CBE programs that include a new system for disbursing federal aid for some CBE programs. Read more in Education Dive.

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 Dec. 23, 2019. For more information, please visit:


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