Legislative Activity

90/10 Rule Legislation

Last week, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Protecting Our Students and Taxpayers (POST) Act of 2013 (S. 1659) to amend the current 90/10 rule that requires for-profit colleges to receive no more than 90 percent of their revenues from Title IV federal student aid. The POST Act would change the rule so that for-profit colleges can only receive 85 percent of their revenue from federal student aid programs and would also require schools to count veterans and military tuition benefits as part of the 85 percent. In addition, the legislation would also increase the penalties for schools that are found to be non-compliant with the rule. It is likely that Republicans will continue to oppose any efforts that would further regulate for-profit colleges.

Early Childhood Education Legislation

House Education and the Workforce Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA) and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) are expected to introduce a bipartisan early childhood education bill this week. Rep. Miller previously noted that his legislation would expand access to preschool education and would be based loosely on President Obama’s vision for a universal pre-K system that he spoke about in his State of the Union address earlier this year. The bill is likely to build on the state-funded pre-K programs that already exist in 39 states to assist states that want to start or expand their early learning programs. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is scheduled to appear at the unveiling on Wednesday, November 13. Additionally, Chairman Harkin, who is working on a companion proposal in the Senate with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), is expected to attend the event.

Upcoming Hearings:

  • Wednesday, November 13: The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a hearing titled “Keeping College Within Reach: Simplifying Federal Student Aid.”
  • Wednesday, November 13: The House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology will hold a hearing titled “Keeping America FIRST: Federal Investments in Research, Science, and Technology at NSF, NIST, OSTP and Interagency STEM Programs.” Representatives from a number of universities and the STEM Education Coalition will testify at the hearing.
  • Thursday, November 14: The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will also hold a hearing on simplifying federal student aid titled “Ensuring Access to Higher Education: Simplifying Federal Student Aid for Today’s College Student.” As with previous hearings on topics related to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the committee has requested that stakeholders submit comments on this topic to hea_reauth113@help.senate.gov prior to the hearing at 10:00 am.
  • Thursday, November 14: The House Education and the Workforce Committee will hold a hearing titled “The Effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Schools, Colleges, and Universities.”

Regulatory Activity

College Affordability Proposal

This week, the Department of Education will host its second and third public meeting to receive comments on the proposed college ratings system that President Obama outlined in his college affordability plan earlier this year. The public meetings will take place on Wednesday, November 13 at George Mason University and Friday, November 15 at the University of Northern Iowa.

Last week, the department held its first public meeting at California State University. Despite the fact that the administration plans to release a plan in spring 2014, the majority of the comments made at the meeting did not favor the department moving forward with drafting a ratings system proposal. Most of the comments focused on concerns about the unintended consequences that could result from the ratings systems and the need for a ratings system to take into account the broad range of student populations at schools.

The last scheduled public meetings will take place on Thursday, November 21 at Louisiana State University. Stakeholders may also submit written comments on the college rating system to collegefeedback@ed.gov.

Department of Education Leadership

Last week, President Obama nominated Ericka Miller to be the next Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education. Miller previously worked for the Education Trust. Her nomination will go to the Senate for confirmation.

Gainful Employment Regulations

The negotiated rulemaking committee on gainful employment will hold its second and final meeting on November 18-20. The meeting was originally scheduled to occur in October but was delayed due to the federal government shutdown. The committee is expected to continue its discussion on the proposed regulations to establish standards for programs that prepare students to be gainfully employed after completing their postsecondary education.