Penn Hill Group’s Washington Wrap Up — July 5, 2016

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


The Senate is in recess and will return on Wednesday, July 6.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed S. 3084, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, by a voice vote. This bill would reauthorize Federal research and development programs in Federal science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

In a written response to inquiries by Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) regarding access to student loans and grants for homeless college students, Secretary of Education John King wrote that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is making specific revisions to the 2016–2017 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. For the 2018–2019 FAFSA form, ED will remove the definition of “youth” from the paper version of the FAFSA and change the way the online FAFSA processes applications from 22- and 23-year-old applicants who indicate that they are homeless or at-risk of being homeless.


The House Appropriations Committee announced a subcommittee markup on July 7 of the Fiscal Year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.


ED’s Special Master Joseph A. Smith released his fourth and final borrower defense progress report. As of June 24, ED had received 26,603 borrower defense claims and to date, nearly 4,000 borrower defense claims from former Corinthian students have been approved for discharge, with combined outstanding loan balances of $73 million. Additionally, the report describes the creation of a new application form for borrower defense discharge claims. Moving forward, ED’s Student Aid Enforcement Unit will oversee the borrower defense program and will continue to provide periodic progress reports.

ED announced three finalists to serve as vendors for their new loan servicing platform. ED stated that the three finalists, Navient, GreatNet Solutions LLC and Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, meet the technical requirements to serve as vendor.

ED and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released their final rules for implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The final regulations include: a joint rule, issued by DOL and ED—in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development—implementing jointly-administered State planning, performance accountability and one-stop delivery system requirements; a DOL rule implementing activities under Titles I (WIOA Adult, Dislocated Worker, Youth, Job Corps and WIOA National Programs) and III (which amends the Wagner-Peyser Act); and three ED rules implementing the requirements of Titles II (the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act) and IV (which amends the Rehabilitation Act of 1973).

ED sent a draft rule on the supplement, not supplant provision of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

ED’s Office for Civil Rights announced that it has reached settlements with 11 education organizations in 7 States and 1 territory regarding website accessibility for people with disabilities.

ED announced the 67 postsecondary institutions selected to participate in the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, through which nearly 12,000 students at Federal and State correctional institutions will have access to Pell Grants.

ED is requesting comments on pursuing a Feasibility Study to look at implementing preschool services through a Pay for Success model, something that hasn’t been applied through early education Federal policy before. Comments are due by Monday, July 25.