Enrollment Declining, Lawmakers Reconciling

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

Hearings & Markups of Interest

(Due to current limited access to the U.S. Capitol complex, the general public is encouraged to view these hearings via live stream.)

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing onNext Steps: The Road Ahead for the COVID-19 Response on Thursday Nov. 4 at 10 a.m.

The Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Workforce Development Subcommittee of the House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on The Community College Pipeline to Small Businesses on Thursday, Nov. 4 at 10 a.m.

National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Report Shows Enrollment Declines. Fall 2021 U.S. undergraduate enrollment dropped 3.2% from last year and 6.5% from the year before, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center research report on the status of college enrollment for the year 2022-23. Meanwhile, graduate enrollment has continued to grow and is 2.1% higher than last year and 5.3% higher than the year before. Undergraduate enrollment at private nonprofit four-year institutions dropped only 0.7%, due partly to a 4.3% increase at highly selective institutions. The Washington Post states that a concern is the alarming number of low-income students dropping out of college, which could lead to drops in retention and graduation rates. There is also the fear that this pattern will leave an economic gap in this generation of students. “It seems like a lot of young people are going to work instead of college, especially … students from low-income families who’ve been lured away by this temporary hitch in the labor market where wages are increasing,” Doug Shapiro, executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, told the Washington Post. “Trying to understand how those students might ever get back into the college path is really important. It’s important to our future workforce.” Read more at NPRInside Higher Ed, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Democrats Release Reconciliation Language with Education Provisions. The Biden administration released the framework for the Build Back Better Act. In the early education sector, childcare and preschool would receive $400 billion, and higher education and workforce would receive $40 billion. The biggest initiatives within the framework are:

  • Universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-old’s, which will expand access to free high-quality preschool for more than 6 million children. This long-term program will have enough funding for six years.
  • Education beyond high school and workforce development, which will reduce costs and expand access to education beyond high school. This will be accomplished by raising the maximum Pell Grant, providing support to historically Black colleges & universities (HBCUs), minority-serving institutions (MSIs), and tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), and investing in workforce development, including community college workforce programs, sector-based training and apprenticeships.
  • Increase the maximum Pell Grant by $550 for more the more than 5 million students enrolled in public and private, nonprofit colleges and expand access to “Dreamers.”
  • Historic investments in HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs) to increase capacity, modernize research infrastructure and financial aid to low-income students.
  • Enable community colleges to create sector-based training opportunity with in-demand training and invest in proven approaches, like Registered Apprenticeships and programs to support underserved communities.
  • Increase annual Labor Department spending on workforce development by 50% for each of the next five years.

House Committee Examines Policy and Priorities of the Office of Federal Student Aid. The House Education and Labor Committee met to Examine the Policies and Priorities of the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). Richard Cordray, the FSA CEO shared new details on the plan to resume loan repayment, the agencies handling of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, the potential for a forgiveness program with wider availability, and the liability of the collapse of colleges that defrauded students. Cordray told lawmakers that his agency is preparing for federal student loan repayments to resume early next year, potentially as soon as Jan. 31, NPR reports. Regarding student loan forgiveness, Cordray said, “That’s a policy decision. I have an operational job.” Read more in the Washington Post.

Committee Session: Executive Session on Nominations. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions met in Executive Session on Nominations including consideration of Sandra Bruce to be inspector general of the Department of Education. Read more about the nomination of Bruce and others at the Department of Education website.

US Ed Dept Announces Recognition Status of Nine Accrediting Agencies. Nine accrediting agencies had their recognition status confirmed by the Department of Education. The following five agencies received recognition for five years:

  • Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES)
  • American Bar Association (ABA)
  • Association of Theological Schools (ATS)
  • American Osteopathic Association (AOACOCA)
  • American Psychological Association (APACOA)

Three agencies were asked to come into compliance with specific criteria outline by the deparemtn in order to be recognized:

  • Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM)
  • Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS)

One agency, the Accrediting Commission on Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), had its recognition deferred while further research is done. Read more in the U.S. Department of Education press release.

Representatives Introduce Veterans Education Bills. Two bills last year helped extend the Covid-related support for veteran education benefits. Now, two new bills have been introduced to the House, to continue to extend support for veteran’s education benefits and make technical corrections to recent veterans legislation. The bills would extend flexibilities granted last year to the secretary of veterans affairs to ensure that veterans’ benefits are not disrupted should a campus need to move instruction online. Read more at American Council on Education.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week Congress is in session 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 Nov. 1, 2021. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.


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