DC Shuttle …
White House hosts College Opportunity Summit. The Obama administration hosted hundreds of college leaders and other officials for a summit to promote new commitments to students. Approximately 500 participants, including college leaders, states, higher education associations, nonprofit organizations and other entities, made commitments aimed at producing more college graduates, helping prepare more low-income students for college, improving college advising for underserved students, and getting more underrepresented students involved in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Northeastern University, MIT, Framingham State University, Keene State University and the University of New Hampshire were among the 500 organizations to pledge a commitment to increasing college opportunity. The U.S. Department of Education announced a series of actions, including a plan to dedicate $10 million over the next five years to the Institute of Education Sciences to fund research on college completion. More details are outlined in the White House press release.
U.S. Department of Ed to explore new loan servicing models. The Education Department plans to explore new approaches in servicing federal student loans, according to a department official’s statements. While addressing a federal student aid conference in Atlanta, Undersecretary Ted Mitchell suggested that the department is interested in reforming its current model, specifically reining in its contracting method with large loan-servicing companies. Last week, the department formally asked for the public’s input on the loan-servicing system, and in the coming months, the department plans to establish a new system to receive consumer complaints.
House passes short-term education tax breaks. The House voted 378-46 to pass a bill (H.R.5771) that will restore a number of expired tax breaks, including three education-related measures. The bill retroactively reinstates the tax breaks, which expired Jan. 1 of this year, and extends them until the end of December. The first of three education-related measures included allows K-12 public schools to borrow at low interest rates to help pay for new projects done in partnership with the private sector. Another allows elementary and secondary school educators to deduct certain expenses without itemization, and the third allows for certain deductions in tuition and related expenses for students and their families.
Administration announces plans to bolster education for native youth. The White House hosted the Tribal Nations conference, much of which was dedicated to discussing educational opportunities for Native American Youth. Following the release of a report that reveals that only about two-thirds of American Indian/Alaskan Natives graduate high school—the lowest rate of any racial/ethnic demographic group—the Education Department will launch new Native Youth Community Projects. The projects will assist communities in preparing their Native students for college and careers. These efforts are part of the Obama administration’s broader initiative, called Generation Indigenous to support Native youth and diminish the economic and educational disparities that face them.
Napolitano makes case for graduate education. Former Secretary of Homeland Security and current President of the University of California system Janet Napolitano spoke during the Council of Graduate Schools’ annual meeting in Washington, DC. Her speech, addressing about 600 deans and other school officials, focused on the importance of graduate-level education. She pressed federal lawmakers to increase support for graduate schools while encouraging others to do the same. “We all need to be on the Hill and say that for us to thrive in this century, we need to be competitive—and the only way we will compete with other countries is by having the brainpower to do it. That means graduate-level education,” she said, adding that federal funding has not been what it should be. Inside 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. 8, 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.