DC Shuttle …
Democrats introduce student loan refinancing bill in Senate. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced a bill, the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, which would allow former students with high interest rates to refinance their student loans at much lower rates. The legislation aligns with a major Democratic election year interest: college affordability. Democrats are taking on student loans as the next item on their “Fair Shot Agenda,” with raising the minimum wage and paycheck fairness. Senate Democrats plan to hold a vote on higher education legislation near the beginning of June, likely based on Warren’s bill. Reps. John Tierney (D-MA) and George Miller (D-CA) introduced companion legislation in the House. The bill would pay for refinancing student loans by increasing the taxes paid by millionaires and billionaires.
Another student loan bill in the House. Reps. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Peter Welch (D-VT) held a Capitol Hill news conference to introduce H.R. 4511, the Protecting Students from Automatic Defaults Act. The bill would require lenders to notify private student loan borrowers if the details or status of their loan changes due to cosigner bankruptcy or death. It would also require the lender to allow the borrower 90 days to find a new cosigner if their cosigner dies or declares bankruptcy. The legislation would only apply to private student loans. The congressmen said the bill was introduced in response to an April 22 report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The report highlighted the issue, saying that most private student loans have a provision allowing the lender to put the loan into default, even if the borrower is up to date with payments, when a cosigner dies or declares bankruptcy.
House passes bill to boost charter schools. The House passed the Success and Opportunity through Quality Charter Schools Act, by a vote of 360 to 45. Introduced by House Education Committee Chair John Kline (R-MN), the bill passed out of committee with overwhelming bipartisan support in April. The bipartisan measure would provide $300 million annually to expand charter schools and consolidate two programs. It would provide state grants to expand and replicate high-quality charter schools and help fund the acquisition of buildings for the schools.
Senate hearing on Ed Dept. Budget. Education Secretary Arne Duncan testified before the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday at a hearing on the education budget. It was his fourth hearing before Congress this year.
ESRA reauthorization passes House. The House passed a reauthorization of the Education Science Reform Act (ESRA). The bill intends to make federal K-12 research more relevant and timely for those out in the field. The legislation also calls for new or improved collection of data on areas such as high school graduation rates, school safety, discipline and teacher preparation and evaluation. And it would add a new focus on examining the implementation of a particular policy or strategy, not just its impact.
Labor, HHS, Education gets $1 billion cut from House appropriators. The House Appropriations Committee proposed a $1 billion cut to the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education spending measure for FY 2015 when it approved its so-called 302(b) allocations. The largest spending bill for domestic programs would get $155.7 billion. The allocations were seen as a serious attempt to pass as many spending bills as possible that could be conferenced with the Senate.
Federal Reserve determines value of college. The Federal Reserve reported that a college education is worth $830,000 more than a high school diploma, according to Forbes.
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 May 12, 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.