Prez Hopeful Clinton Adds to College Affordability Proposals

DC Shuttle …

Clinton Details Student Loan Plan. Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is rolling out her policy proposals for student loan and higher education reform. The plan would cost $350 billion over 10 years to reduce interest rates and encourage free college programs. The broad reforms would aim to encourage state schools and community colleges, through grants, to adopt free or near free college programs. Politico has details of the plan.
Senate HELP Hearing on HEA Reauthorization and Student Outcomes. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) with a focus on student outcomes. The hearing was the eighth held by the committee to consider HEA reauthorization, according to the comments of Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who wanted to know why so many students are leaving school before graduating. The committee questioned college presidents and administrators on what their institutions are doing to ensure students graduate and are able to pay their loans. Last month, Alexander wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on how college can be affordable.
Education Department Approves States’ NCLB Waivers. The U.S. Department of Education renewed for seven states the waivers that exempt them from the standards of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). New Hampshire, Arizona and Arkansas got one-year extensions. Connecticut, Alabama, Mississippi and Wisconsin each got three-year renewals, meaning they will not have to apply for another waiver under President Barack Obama’s administration. The waivers may become unnecessary, as Congress inches closer to passing NCLB reform. Both chambers have approved K-12 legislation, and will conference their bills in the fall before sending language to the president.
Bill Introduced to Tighten Financial Aid Eligibility. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced legislation to strengthen the federal standard by which colleges are eligible for federal student aid. The Student Protection and Success Act would establish a new formula for determining a college or university’s eligibility in Title IV student aid programs that is based on the proportion of students paying back loans. The bill would also require colleges and universities to make risk-sharing payments to the U.S. Education Department for loans that are not being repaid. The legislation is intended to encourage schools to put more “skin in the game,” said HELP Chair Alexander, who supports the legislation.
Senators Request Review of Loan Servicing Report. HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), and Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to the Education Department’s Office of Inspector General requesting an examination of the department’s recent reviews of student loan servicers’ compliance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The law provides consumer protections to servicemembers while on active duty, and the Department of Education conducted a review of compliance with the law. In the letter, the senators expressed concerns with this review, suggesting the sample size was so small that it was misrepresentative. A report by Warren’s staff identifying numerous problems with the Education Department review is available here.
Senate Recognizes 125th Anniversary of Land Grant Institutions. The Senate unanimously approved a resolution commemorating the 125th anniversary of the Second Morrill Act, which led to the creation of 19 historically black land-grant universities. The resolution celebrates the 1890 law and designates Aug. 30 as “1890 Land-Grant Institutions Quasquicentennial Recognition Day.”
Report on Higher Ed Mergers. Berkery Noyes, an investment bank, released a report on mergers and acquisitions in higher education. The value of transactions reached a high in the first half of 2015, and will likely continue at record pace, according to the report.

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 Aug. 10, 2015. 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:



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