Keeping Score

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

Ed Dept Updates College Scorecard Database to Include Average Debt, Earnings of Specific College Programs. The U.S. Department of Education announced that its database College Scorecard will now let users compare data on the average student loan debt and postgraduate earnings by program of students within institutions. The site’s new update reflects the bipartisan push for transparency in higher education through the collection of more accurate data on how students fare after earning their degree. While higher education experts believe the new data will help colleges make better decisions about the programs they offer to students, they note that the database still has some limitations. The data does not include Parent PLUS or private student loans, meaning that users may not be aware of the full amount students are borrowing to afford their credentials. Nor does it include students who didn’t earn an income, didn’t complete a credential, or didn’t borrow to attend college. Read more in The Wall Street Journal and Education Dive.

Study Reveals International Student Enrollment Has Stalled.  Data released showed that the number of new international undergraduate and graduate students declined during the 2018-2019 academic year, reaching its lowest point in six years. Overall enrollment saw a minimal increase driven by programs that allow international students to train in the U.S. following their studies. Experts believe the slow growth rate may have been caused by recent rhetoric and government policies that are increasingly hostile to immigrants to the U.S. and by competition from other countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Russia and Australia. Read more in Politico and the Boston Globe.

Funding for Minority-Serving Institutions Hits Another Roadblock. House Democrats introduced a bill to delay a government shutdown through Dec. 20, 2019. While various higher education advocacy groups had hoped the legislation would include the $255 million in funding for minority serving institutions (MSIs) that expired on Sept. 30, 2019, there was no mention of it within the bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated that Senate Republicans blocked the addition of any provision that would have restored the funding set aside for the MSIs. “Senate Republicans’ insistence on playing politics on the backs of six million students and hundreds of schools is a sad statement of their values,” Pelosi said in a statement. “It is profoundly disappointing and deeply shameful that the Senate GOP has yet again turned their back on America’s young people and these historic institutions.” Senate Democrats have tried five times to advance the FUTURE Act to restore the funding, with Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) blocking each attempt. Alexander continues to argue that Congress should implement a long-term solution to MSI funding through the passage of his package of the higher education proposals he introduced this year. Read more in The Washington Post.

Alexander Backs Legislation to Change 90/10 Rule. Senate Education Committee Chair Alexander announced he would be backing bipartisan legislation that would limit the revenue for-profit colleges can receive from enrolling veterans. After spending years opposing a change to the rule, Alexander made the unexpected move to support a bill introduced by two Republican and two Democrat Senators over a week ago. The loophole in the 90/10 rule prohibits for-profit colleges from getting more than 90% of their operating revenue from federal student aid funding. Veteran’s education benefits do not count toward that threshold, thus presenting as an incentive for for-profit colleges to actively, and often aggressively, recruit veterans. Read more in The Washington Post.

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 Nov. 25, 2019. For more information, please visit:


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