DC Shuttle …
Ed Dept Announces Year-Round Pell Grants. The U.S. Department of Education announced that year–round Pell Grants would be made available to students beginning on July 1, 2017. The policy change will provide financial resources that will allow thousands of students to to complete their coursework on their own schedules. In making the announcement, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said, “This decision is about empowering students and giving them the flexibility and support needed to achieve their goals.” The change will allow eligible students to receive up to 150% of the students’ Federal Pell Grant Scheduled Award beginning with the 2017-18 award year. Restoration of year-round Pell Grants had bipartisan support and was included in the budget deal passed by Congress last month.
House Passes Perkins Career and Technical Education Bill. The House passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353), reauthorizing the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, by a voice vote. This is the first major overhaul since 2006 of the legislation, which provides federal support to state and local career and technical education (CTE) programs. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), improves upon the Perkins program by allowing states more flexibility to respond to evolving education and economic needs, and also focuses on ensuring that education prepares historically disadvantaged or vulnerable students for high-skill, high-wage careers. The legislation also aims to better align training with in-demand jobs, and increases the focus on employability skills and work-based learning. Many education leaders and advocates were alarmed when President Donald Trump proposed cutting the Perkins program by $166 million in the FY 2018 budget. House Education & Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) praised the bill, saying that it “puts America on the right path to closing the skills gap and sets our workers up for a future of success.” Read more in Thompson’s news release.
DeVos Names New COO of Federal Student Aid. DeVos announced her intent to appoint A. Wayne Johnson as chief operating office of federal student aid (FSA), describing him as “the right person to modernize FSA for the 21st Century.” Johnson has 30 years of experience in the financial services industry and holds a doctorate in higher education leadership. A Georgia native, he is the founder, chair and former CEO of First Performance Corporation, a global payment card technology company. FSA currently serves 42 million student loan borrowing clients and administers more than $1.4 trillion in current outstanding Federal Student Loan balances. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate HELP Committee, praised the pick, saying “I look forward to working with Dr. Johnson to ensure that the office is putting the best interests of students and taxpayers first and operating efficiently to carry out critical tasks.” The previous COO for FSA, James Runcie, resigned abruptly in May, and stated in emails leaked to the media that he disagreed with the direction of the department under DeVos. Read more in Inside Higher Ed.
Department of Education Released Regulatory Reform Progress Report. The Department of Education released its first Regulatory Reform Task Force Progress Report. All federal agencies, including the department, were required to establish Regulatory Reform Task Forces pursuant to an executive order signed by Trump in February 2017, which aims to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens. While the task force is still in the preliminary stage of its work, the 66-page document describes the next steps in the process, and cites the administration’s previously announced plan to pause two “burdensome” regulatory proposals: the borrower-defense and gainful-employment rules. In the report, the task force said the looming rulemaking process for these two rules will be “arduous” and require significant resources and oversight from the department. In a written statement, DeVos said that the task force members “have been tasked with providing recommendations on which regulations to repeal, modify or keep in an effort to ensure those that remain adequately protect students while giving states, institutions, teachers, parents and students the flexibility needed to improve student achievement.” Read more in Inside Higher Ed.
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 June 26, 2017. For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.