Legislative Activity

USED Experimental Site Opportunity: Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP)

Last Wednesday, the Department of Education announced the launch of the Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) program. The pilot program is part of the Experimental Sites Initiative that allows colleges and universities to experiment with various measures of statutory and regulatory flexibility in disbursing Title IV federal aid. The EQUIP program is aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of granting Title IV flexibility to partnerships between institutions of higher education and non-traditional education providers, such as intensive “bootcamp”-style training, personalized online programs, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and short-term certificate programs.

Currently, institutions of higher education that receive Title IV funding are not allowed to offer an education program where more than 50 percent of the content and instruction is provided by an organization that is not another postsecondary institution. Through the EQUIP initiative, the Department would waive this limitation for institutions that are partnering with non-traditional education providers to allow students to receive financial aid.

To be considered for the EQUIP program, institutions of higher education must submit a letter of interest to the Department of Education by Monday, December 14, 2015.

The Department will review the letters of interest and issue invitations to institutions to submit a full application. The program will likely be very competitive as the Department has indicated that it plans to select no more than ten sites. The criteria the Department will use to select sites are: (1) innovation in achieving positive student outcomes; (2) equity and access, especially for low-income students; (3) rigorous proposed quality assurance process; (4) program affordability; and (5) strong proposed student and taxpayer protections.

Additional details on what information to include in the letter of interest can be found in the Federal Register notice.

DC Voucher Legislation

On Wednesday, the House will vote on the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results, or SOAR, Act (HR 10), a legacy piece of legislation for outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), which would update and reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship (voucher) Program for an additional five years. While many House Democrats oppose the program, a bipartisan companion bill has been introduced in the Senate (S 2171).

This Week’s Hearings:

  • Thursday, October 22: House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity will hold a hearing on “A Review of VA’s VetSuccess on Campus Program.”