Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — April 4, 2016

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


The House is in recess and will return on Tuesday, April 12. The Senate returns from recess today.


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis of the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Budget. CBO projects that from FY2017–FY2026, the President’s budget would result in deficits averaging 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and totaling $6.9 trillion, $2.4 trillion less than CBO’s baseline. In addition, the CBO analysis scored the cost of specific education proposals from the President’s request, including America’s College Promise ($70.1 billion over 10 years), Preschool for All ($66 billion over 10 years), permanently indexing Pell awards to inflation ($38.4 billion over 10 years), and income-based repayment reforms (saving $23.2 billion over 10 years).


The U.S. Department of Education (ED) will hold its second negotiated rulemaking session on the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) from April 6–8. Title I Assessments and Supplement/Not Supplant will be addressed.

Education Week reported that ED will begin the process of regulating on other areas of ESSA, and specified accountability, state plans and the innovative assessment pilot as the only areas in which ED would issue regulations this year.

ED sent letters to two student debt relief companies, Abuv Media and MC Business Group, requesting that they stop misrepresenting their affiliation with ED, by means such as using ED’s logo on their materials, and that they include disclaimers on their websites that they are “not affiliated with or endorsed by” ED.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) ordered Student Aid Institute, Inc. and its Chief Executive Officer, Steven Lamont, to permanently exit the debt relief industry, pay a $50,000 civil penalty and stop charging affected costumers. CFPB has accused the company of charging illegal advance fees, failing to provide privacy notices and implying an affiliation with ED to get borrowers to pay fees for federal benefits.

ED launched the ED School Climate Surveys tool that allows schools to administer surveys on school climate to middle and high school students, teachers, staff, parents and guardians for free.

ED has named Kim Hunter Reed as a Deputy Under Secretary. Reed will be replacing Jamienne Studley, who left ED at the end of 2015.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3–2 to expand the Lifeline Program, a federal low-income phone subsidy program, to support internet service. In addition, FCC advanced a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that expands privacy requirements on providers of broadband internet.

ED published a notice for an updated NPRM on issues related to distance education for Higher Education Act Title II teacher preparation and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant requirements.  Comments on this updated NPRM are due May 2. The original NPRM was issued in December 2014. This supplemental notice comes after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sent the teacher preparation regulatory package back to ED.

Under Secretary Ted Mitchell released a blog outlining work ED has done to “strengthen the accreditation system.” He said ED will soon publish guidance to encourage accreditors to target their resources to problematic and poorly performing institutions and programs, and he discussed ED’s efforts to focus on outcomes through its process of recognizing accreditors.