Opening Scenes in Higher Ed Act

DC Shuttle …

House Education and Workforce Committee Passes HEA Reauthorization. The House Education and the Workforce Committee marked up and passed legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. The legislation, the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act (H.R. 4508), was approved on a party-line vote, with all democrats opposing the measure introduced by Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) two weeks earlier. Foxx said she hopes to get the measure considered by the full House early in 2018. The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee intends to begin hearings early in 2018 to begin the process of reauthorizing HEA. Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) have expressed a desire to release a bipartisan bill for consideration. You can read the Committee’s summary of the legislation here and the Chronicle of Education has more on Tuesday’s markup. Among other provisions, the bill would cap student loan borrowing. Dependent undergraduates could borrow up to $39,000 in federal student loans throughout their college career. Graduate students would be limited to taking out $28,500 per year and $150,000 total. Parents would be capped at borrowing $12,500 per year and a total of $56,250 per child.

Tax Reform Changes … and Advances. The House and Senate Conference Committee released the language of its negotiated tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, to be voted on in both the House and Senate. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports the new text has some differences from previous versions regarding education tax provisions:

  • Graduate student tax deductions saved in conference. The conference bill’s language removed the provision regarding graduate student tuition and waivers. Graduate tuition and waivers would remain tax free, the Chronicle of Higher Ed reports.
  • Student loan interest rate deduction saved in conference. The conference bill’s language removed the provision regarding student loan interest. Student loan interest would remain tax-free.
  • Private activity bonds to remain tax-free. The conference bill’s language removed the provision regarding private activity bonds. Private activity bonds and their refinancing would remain tax-free.
  • Endowment tax included in final version. The final language includes a provision to tax college endowments. The legislation would place a 1.4% tax on the investment earnings of endowments at universities with over $500,000 in endowment per student. It would exclude institutions with under 500 students, Inside Higher Ed reports.
  • Deal reached to retain SALT tax deduction. Republicans reached a deal to allow taxpayers to choose a property tax deduction along with either an income or sales tax deduction, with a $10,000 limit.

State AGs Sue DeVos Over Student Loan Relief. Massachusetts Attorney General Maury Healy joined AGs from New York and Illinois to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education over its treatment of student loans for students whose institutions closed, such as Corinthian College. The Department of Education has allowed some former students’ wages to be garnished in collection, Reuters reports.

Administration Releases List of Regulations It Intends to Revise. The White House released its second Unified Agenda including new Trump administration priorities on deregulatory actions. The document included intentions to revise Title IX, Gainful Employment and Year-Round Pell Grants.

Senate HELP Committee Approves Ed Dept Nominees. The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing and approved the nominations of Johnny Collett to be assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services at the U.S. Department of Education, the nomination of  retired Brigadier General Mitchell Zais to be deputy secretary at the Department of Education, and the nomination of James Blew to be assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development at the department. The Zais and Blew nominations were approved on a party-line vote, the Chronicle of Higher Ed reports.

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. 18, 2017. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.


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