DC Shuttle: Lawmakers Revisit Bank-College Deals

Legislators ask for information on relationship between schools and lenders. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Finance Committee Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Ranking Member of the House Education and Workforce Committee George Miller (D-CA) demanded that eight U.S. banks produce information about agreements they may have with colleges to encourage students to use their products. They cited a 2012 report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group that said more than 9 million students risk being charged fees stemming from deals in which colleges allow financial firms to manage federal financial aid disbursement through checking accounts and prepaid debit cards. On Tuesday, the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Keeping College Within Reach: Simplifying Federal Student Aid.”

Debate over for-profit college provisions in defense bill. House GOP committee chairs, Rep. John Kline (R-MN) of the Education and the Workforce Committee, Rep. Howard McKeon (R-CA) of the Armed Services Committee, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, are urging their fellow appropriators not to accept provisions added to the Senate’s FY 2014 Defense appropriations bill that would limit the use of military members’ education benefits. In a letter sent Monday to House Appropriations Committee leaders, the chairs argued, “While intended to punish bad actors from accessing higher education, both provisions harm low-income and veteran students and their colleges and fail to increase financial or institutional accountability.” Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), who chairs  the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, added the provisions to the spending bill (S. 1429) in July with the goal of protecting veterans and service members from being targeted by the for-profit college industry. The riders should be removed from the spending bill and Congress should consider such proposals during debate on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, which expires Jan. 1, the chairs added in the letter. The House Education and the Workforce Committee and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee have begun a series of hearings on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. Leaders of both panels said a bill likely will begin to move through the legislative process early next year.

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. 30, 2013.

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.


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