Government Affairs

Weigh In: Public Input Sought by US Dept of Education on Multiple Issues | Policy Matters (May 2021)

May 30, 2021

Major Updates

  • The Biden Administration is moving to leave their mark on higher education, and the first round of regulatory items it is looking at has been released. A public comment period will be followed by , for which they will seek nominations of non-federal negotiators like school administrators, experts, and other stakeholders to serve and craft potential regulatory changes. Topics the Department has put on the docket include the following:

    • Ability to benefit eligibility (mechanism for those without high-school diploma/equivalency to become eligible for federal financial aid)
    • Borrower defense to repayment
    • Certification procedures for participation in federal financial aid programs
    • Change of ownership and change in control of institutions of higher education
    • Gainful employment
    • Income-contingent loan repayment plans
    • Mandatory pre-dispute arbitration and prohibition of class action lawsuit provisions in institutions’ enrollment agreements
    • Pell Grant eligibility for prison education programs
    • Public service loan forgiveness
    • Standards of administrative capability
    • Financial responsibility for participating institutions of higher education, such as events that indicate heightened financial risk
    • Closed school discharges
    • Discharges for borrowers with a total and permanent disability
    • Discharges for false certification of student eligibility

The Department noted the need to issue new regulations that “reflect(s) the Department’s commitment to serving students and borrowers well and protecting them from harmful programs and practices that may derail their postsecondary and career goals.” And, that it is “interested in comments on regulations that would address gaps in postsecondary outcomes, such as retention, completion, student loan repayment, and loan default. Specific consideration to disparate impacts by income, race/ethnicity, gender, and other demographic characteristics is encouraged.”

Public hearings will be held on June 21, 23, and 24. More details on how to register for the hearing dates and how to weigh in during the public hearings . The official public comment submission form is open until July 1, 2021, and . The Department is also seeking input on suggested items beyond those they have identified to be considered.

UPCEA encourages all of our individual members and member institutions to weigh in and make your voices heard on these topics and others which are important to you and your institution.

  • COVID Relief HEERF Eligibility Changed to include DACA, International Students
    In  as well as , the Department of Education has changed the policy of COVID relief funds to now include all students, including DACA and international students. The rule change applies to all three rounds of funding, and applies retroactively to all eligible students. , and we are very pleased to see it implemented.

  • As we mentioned with the  in April, the full budget requested by the Biden Administration is soon to be released, with some notable items. The $6 trillion budget request largely reflects the American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan, focusing on infrastructure and the social safety net, including items like child care. Notably absent from the budget is any support for federal student debt relief. Presidential budget requests rarely pass at the funding levels requested, and are seen as an opening negotiation with congress on how much, and how, the federal budget should be allocated.

Other News

UPCEA is a proud founding and steering committee member of the Today's Students Coalition.

UPCEA Policy Committee

Ricky LaFosse, University of Michigan, Chair
Kristen Brown, University of Louisville
Frank Principe, University of Maryland Global Campus
Reed Scull, University of Wyoming
Dick Senese, Capella University


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