Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up – December 21, 2015

A quick look at the news from last week, compiled by Penn Hill Group: 


The House and Senate passed H.R. 3594, the Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2015, to extend the Perkins Loan Program through September 30, 2017. The bill now awaits President Obama’s signature.

The Senate passed S. 227, the Strengthening Education through Research Act, by unanimous consent. This bill reauthorizes the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA) and reauthorizes authority for the Institute of Education Sciences. The House has not yet taken action on this bill.


The House and Senate passed a $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 funding and a $680 billion package of tax cuts. In the omnibus, education spending will increase by $1.2 billion. Title I Grants to local education agencies (LEAs) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B state grants received increases of $500 million and $415 million, respectively, over FY2015. In addition, the Charter Schools Program received an increase of $80 million. Preschool Development Grants, the Investing in Innovation program (i3) and Promise Neighborhoods were also funded under the bill. In the U.S. Department of Labor, Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth funding streams under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) received nearly a $91 million increase collectively while the Job Corps line items are largely flat funded. Under the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Head Start receives a $570 million increase, AmeriCorps receives a $50.6 million increase and the Social Innovation Fund is level funded at $50 million.


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued warning letters to 17 colleges to improve their disclosure of school-sponsored credit cards.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that all Direct Loan borrowers may now enroll in the Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE) repayment plan.

ED’s National Center for Education Statistics released data indicating that the nation’s high school graduation rate for the 2013-14 school year is 84 percent, the highest rate it has been since states adopted a uniform way of calculating graduation rates five years ago.

ED’s Office for Civil Rights released a Dear Colleague letter outlining schools’ responsibilities under Title IX when partnering with outside organizations that provide single-sex programs to a school district’s students.

Through a Federal Register notice, ED called for comments within the next month on what aspects of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) should be regulated on. They also acknowledged that they must form a negotiated rulemaking committee on the issues of standards, assessments and supplement not supplant. ED will issue a future notice to initiate this negotiated rulemaking process.

ED issued a Dear Colleague letter providing guidance on their initial efforts to implement ESSA. Topics covered by the letter include: Title I Peer Review and the impact of ESSA on state waivers; annual measurable objectives used under Title I (prior to the passage of ESSA); annual measurable achievement objectives utilized under Title III of ESEA (prior to the passage of ESSA); priority and focus school designations; and educator evaluation and support system requirements under state waivers.

ED announced it is extending its call for nominations to the negotiated rulemaking committee that it seeks to establish to prepare proposed regulations on borrower defense under Federal Student Aid programs.

ED and HHS are requesting comments on a proposed policy statement that they have drafted regarding the implementation of effective family engagement practices from early years to early grades for all families. The deadline for comments has been extended to January 4, 2016.