Monday, February 27, 2017

This Week in Legislation - Week of February 27, 2017

Week of February 27, 2017

·         This week, both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate are in session for legislative business. While neither chamber is expected to consider student financial aid-related legislation, the U.S. House is expected to consider a number of regulatory reform bills, including:

o   H.R. 998, the Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act, which would establish a Retrospective Regulatory Review Commission tasked with reviewing the Code of Federal Regulations to review those federal rules that should be repealed to lower the cost of regulation to the economy, with a special focus on those major rules that have been in effect for more than 15 years, impose paperwork burdens or unfunded mandates, and impose disproportionately high costs on small businesses.

o   H.R. 1004, the Regulatory Integrity Act, which would require each federal agency to make publicly available a list of pending regulatory actions.

o   H.R. 1009, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Insight, Reform, and Accountability Act, which would create a Regulatory Working Group at the Office of Management and Budget whose members would assist federal agencies in the development of innovative regulatory techniques; the methods, efficacy, and utility of comparative risk assessment in regulatory decision-making; and the development of streamlined regulatory approaches for small businesses and other entities. The bill would also require each federal agency to release an annual regulatory plan that includes each significant regulatory action that the agency reasonably expects to issue in proposed or final form in the following fiscal year, and expand the amount of information included in the bi-yearly Unified Agenda.
·         Today at 6:30 p.m., New America hosts a conversation with Tressie McMillan Cottom, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of Lower Ed: the Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy. Other participants include: Robert Shireman, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation; Laura Hanna, Founder and Co-Director, Debt Collective; Sarah Jaffe, Journalist and Fellow, The Nation Institute, and Author, Necessary Trouble: Americans In Revolt; and Stephen Burd, Senior Policy Analyst, Education Policy, New America.
·         On Tuesday, all day, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) host the leadership of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) on Capitol Hill. The HBCU Fly-In hosted by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund will bring together 85 presidents and chancellors to focus on opportunity, strengthening bilateral relationships, and celebrating the importance of our country’s HBCUs. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will serve as the event’s keynote speaker. Other participants include: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI); Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL); Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC); Rep. Mia Love (R-UT); Johnny Taylor, President, Thurgood Marshall Foundation; and Dr. Michael Lomax, President and Chief Executive Officer, United Negro College Fund.
·         On Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education holds a hearing entitled, “Providing More Students a Pathway to Success by Strengthening Career and Technical Education.” Witnesses include: Glen Johnson, Manufacturing Workforce Development Leader, BASF Corporation; Janet Goble, Director of Career and Technical Education, Canyons School District; Mimi Lufkin, Chief Executive Officer, National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity; and Mike Rowe, Chief Executive Officer, mikeroweWORKS Foundation.
·         On Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., the House Financial Services Committee meets to consider its views and estimates on the federal budget for fiscal year 2018.  The document includes the following language, which will be sent to the House Budget Committee for possible inclusion in the Congressional budget resolution:

The Committee remains gravely concerned that the Dodd-Frank Act has failed to achieve its proponents’ stated goals of promoting the financial stability of the United States, ending “too big to fail” and taxpayer bailouts, and protecting consumers. Instead, the Committee believes that the Dodd-Frank Act has endangered taxpayers and our economy by enshrining “too big to fail” in statute, creating endless new regulatory mandates from Washington that have resulted in fewer and more expensive financial products and services, increased moral hazard in markets by failing to address the true causes of the financial crisis, and hampered economic growth. The Committee intends to advance legislative proposals – including the Financial CHOICE Act – to replace the failed aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act with free-market alternatives that end bailouts once-and-for-all, restore market discipline, ensure that the financial system is more resilient, pare back unnecessary and burdensome regulations, encourage capital formation and economic growth, and protect consumers by preserving financial independence and consumer choice. In addition, the Committee intends to advance legislation to place the non-monetary policy activities of the independent agencies within the Committee’s jurisdiction on the appropriations process.

·         On Tuesday at 2:00 p.m., The Heritage Foundation holds a discussion with the authors of the publication, Prosperity Unleashed: Smarter Financial Regulation. Panelists include: David Burton, Senior Fellow in Economic Policy, The Heritage Foundation; Diane Katz, Senior Research Fellow in Regulatory Policy, The Heritage Foundation; Brian Knight, Senior Research Fellow with the Financial Markets Working Group, The Heritage Foundation; Thaya Brook Knight, Associate Director, Financial Regulation Studies, Cato Institute; and George Selgin, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, Cato Institute talk about their publication which provides solutions to the core regulatory problems that have existed in U.S. financial markets for decades. For details and to register, visit The Heritage Foundation website.

·         On Tuesday at 9:00 p.m., President Donald Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress in which he is expected to outline his legislative agenda, including budgetary and economic goals.

·         On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor/Health and Human Services/Education holds a hearing to receive testimony from Members of Congress on their funding priorities.

·         On Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., the Federal Reserve releases its Beige Book. Eight times a year, the Fed releases its Beige Book, a summary of current economic conditions for the 12 Federal Reserve Districts based on anecdotal information gathered through reports from Bank and Branch Directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources.
·         On Wednesday at 6:00 p.m., Federal Reserve Board of Governors Member Lael Brainard gives a speech titled, “Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy,” at the Malcolm Wiener Lecture in International Political Economy being held in Cambridge, MA.
·         On Thursday at 10:00 a.m., the House Budget Committee holds a hearing to receive testimony from Members of Congress on their priorities for the federal budget for fiscal year 2018.

·         On Thursday beginning at 10:30 a.m., the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Consumer Advisory Board meets to discuss consumer reporting activities, including the Bureau’s open credit score initiative; review the CFPB’s enforcement actions over the last five years; examine trends and themes in consumer financial markets; and receive an update on enhancements to the Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database. CFPB Director Richard Cordray will deliver opening remarks.
·         On Friday at 12:15 p.m., Federal Reserve Board of Governors Member Jerome Powell gives a speech titled, “Innovation, Technology, and the Payments System,” at the Roundtable on Blockchain: The Future of Finance and Capital Markets being held in New Haven, CT.
·         On Friday at 12:30 p.m., Federal Reserve Board of Governors Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer gives a speech titled, “Fed Monetary Policy Decision-Making,” at the 2017 U.S. Monetary Policy Forum in New York, NY.
·         On Friday at 1:00 p.m., Federal Reserve Board of Governors Chairwoman Janet Yellen gives a speech on the country’s economic outlook at the Executives Club of Chicago in Chicago, IL.

This information is shared by SASFAA's Legislative Affairs' Committee and NCHER.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

This Week in Legislation - Week of February 21

Week of February 21, 2017

·         This week, both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate are in recess for the Presidents’ Day holiday. Both chambers will return to legislative business on Monday, February 27, 2017.

·         On Wednesday through Friday, all day, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity holds a meeting to elect a new chair and vice-chair, convenes a panel discussion on outcome measures, revisits how it will proceed in its review of accrediting agencies at future meetings, and considers a compliance report involving the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

·         On Wednesday at 12:00 p.m., The Heritage Foundation hosts a panel discussion titled, “Reawakening the Congressional Review Act.” The Congressional Review Act of 1996 (CRA) is Congress’s most recent effort to exert its authority over the federal regulatory process. The Act requires the Executive Branch to report every rule to the House of Representatives and Senate, and allows each chamber to move a resolution repealing the regulation with a simple majority vote. Participants include: David McIntosh, President, Club for Growth, and former U.S. Representative from Indiana; Todd Gaziano, Executive Director, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Law, Pacific Legal Foundation; Paul Larkin, Senior Legal Research Fellow, Institute for Constitutional Government; and John Malcolm, Director, Edwin Meese III Center.

·         On Wednesday at 1:00 p.m., Federal Reserve Board of Governors Member Jerome Powell gives a speech titled, “The Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy,” at the Forecaster’s Club of New York Luncheon in New York, NY.

·         On Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) releases the minutes of its two-day meeting held January 31 – February 1.

This information is shared by SASFAA's Legislative Affairs' Committee and NCHER.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

5 Reasons Schools Should Send A Yearly Debt Letter To Student Borrowers


By Amy Glynn, Vice President of Financial Aid & Community
Initiatives at CampusLogic

A loan letter, sometimes referred to as a debt letter, is a “letter” sent to student loan borrowers each year  recapping for the student pertinent information about his or her loan debt to date. For example, estimated monthly payments and percentage of loan limits used.

Loan Letters Gaining Traction
Indiana University (IU) implemented a loan letter to all student borrowers in 2012; student borrowing has declined by 18 percent. Indiana and Nebraska have passed laws mandating annual debt letters while other states have proposed legislation. Georgia’s chancellor requires a debt letter for all students, a move impacting all four-year public institutions in The University of Georgia System.

Four reasons you should send a yearly debt letter:

1 - Master Promissory Notes Aren’t Enough
What other industry allows an open-ended loan application—one that can be added to for up to 10 years? The Master Promissory Note (MPN)  simplified and reduced the amount of paperwork collected over a student’s lifetime, only making them complete the loan application once every 10 years. Having a student complete an MPN reminds him/her that real money is trading hands. A loan letter makes student borrowing even more tangible.
2 – Students Need to Physically Handle Debt
The importance of students seeing the money they are borrowing as more than numbers on a page is monumental. There was a time when students would sign loan documents each year, later signing the physical check over to the school. I’m not saying we go back to the days of paper checks, but I think sending a letter each year reminding students of their growing debt is important. Right now, for many, there’s no other place students regularly receive this information.
3- Students Don’t Know How Much They Have Borrowed
A Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings study found that among Federal Loan borrowers 28% said they had no Federal Loan debt. An additional 14% said they didn’t have any student debt. This means, at minimum, 42% of students with loan debt are unaware of it. It’s scary that borrowers are making the largest financial decision of their lives to-date, yet they don’t know how much they’re going to have to repay. 
4—Students Don’t Know the Repayment Terms On Their Loans.
According to LendEDU’s recent study of student loan borrowers:

-          93% don’t know the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans
-          94% don’t understand their loan repayment terms
-          73% thought Sallie Mae was a person, not a company
These statistics indicate students don’t understand the terms of their loans. How do we combat this? Education. And more education. We need to find new, relevant ways to educate students on potential loan debt, both before and during the borrowing process. A good loan letter can do just that—just ask the schools that are seeing tremendous results from implementing them.

State Legislative Update - February 2017

State Legislative Update                               

February 2017

Legislative news from across the SASFAA region, prepared by your 2016-2017 SASFAA Legislative Relations Committee.

Christen Neher – SASFAA Legislative Relations Chair
Ron Gambill – TASFAA Governmental Relations Chair
Mary Otto – NCASFAA Legislative Advisory Chair
Vanessa Fulton – GASFAA Legislative Affairs Chair
Erin Klarer – KASFAA Legislative Chair
Jennifer Epperson – AASFAA Legislative Relations Chair
Francisco Valines – FASFAA Legislative Relation Chair
Della Bays – VASFAA Government Relations Chair
Amanda Holliday – MASFAA Legislative Chair
Joey Derrick – SCASFAA Legislative Relations Chair
Amy Berrier – SASFAA Past President
Mike O’Grady – Legislative Knowledge Expert


Accrediting body asks for removal of Bentley from two-year college board:

VA Scholarship Program Cost Could Impact Other Higher Ed Funding Requests:


REACH Scholarship Celebrates 5 Years, 3rd Annual REACH Day at the Capitol

The Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia State Senate proclaimed January 25, 2017, as REACH Georgia Day at the Capitol. In its fifth year, REACH Georgia is currently preparing 685 students in 69 participating school systems for high school and college completion.

REACH (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen) is a public-private mentorship and needs-based scholarship program, as well as a key component of the state’s Complete College Georgia Initiative. Upon graduation from high school, REACH Scholars are awarded up to $10,000 to attend a HOPE-eligible two or four-year Georgia college.


In what is normally just a welcome back to Frankfort week, the House and Senate rushed through seven of their priority bills. Which, you know, with their new supermajority in both chambers and holding the Governor’s office is certainly their prerogative. HOWEVER, they also used the old trickeroo of giving a dog bite bill (SB12) two readings before swapping the language out for the codification of Governor Bevin’s Executive Order that reorganized the UofL Board of Trustees. Somebody must have tipped them off that this was coming:  U of L accreditation agency blames Bevin. Let’s all say a little prayer for UofL and hope no one gets bitten by a dog.

But wait, your school may be joining in the fun too! SB 107 permits the Governor or other appointing authority to remove and replace certain board or council appointments. This affects all of the public colleges and universities, the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Kentucky Department of Education. Hearings on this one will happen in February (in theory). I don’t think this bill will generate the ire of SACS, but who knows. Fast legislation = sloppy legislation = lawsuits that you and I taxpayer get to pay for.

Anyway, so what financial aid bills are there? Not many. Yet.

HB 20 – rename KEES to the Arch Gleason Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship. Arch was the long-time CEO of the KY Lottery, who passed away suddenly last year. So this is an incredibly nice gesture, but I’d like to convince the sponsors that a simple Resolution read in his honor would be just as meaningful.

HB 62 – KEES for apprenticeship programs. KHEAA’s wonderful Dr. Mel Letteer did quite a bit of research on this, and while it sounds like a great idea, this is another one of those that would require additional up front funding. So KHEAA would either have to get a General Fund appropriation for this, cut everyone else’s KEES award, or take the amount from CAP and KTG. AND, for the most part it’s the employer that is paying for apprenticeship costs, not the students (who are paid wages, mind you). So why not have a tax deduction for employers offering apprenticeship programs?

Other items of interest: SB 106 – Requiring Financial Literacy lessons in high school. So kids can know what interest is! That would be nice, wouldn’t it?


Partnership between Mississippi Board of Trustees of Higher Learning and the Mississippi Development Authority will help to bridge the gap between Mississippians being overlooked for jobs.  This initiative, will help showcase Mississippi to potential employees as well as define economic strengths of Mississippi’s public universities.  A second initiative of this partnership, an online tool for recent graduates, will help recent graduates to find jobs within the state instead of searching outside of Mississippi. 

South Carolina

With the 122nd Session of the South Carolina Legislative session underway, a flurry of higher education-related bills have been introduced.  Many of those bills aim to increase accountability and transparency, as well as cost control and oversight.  In addition, with South Carolina now using a 10 point grading scale in K-12, changes to the academic criteria for the state-supported scholarship and grant programs are being discussed in order to address a possible large-scale increase in students eligible for such awards.


Virginia public and private nonprofit institutions awarded 119,934 degrees and certificates in 2015-16 – a state record.

That total represents a 3.8% increase over the previous year’s total of 115,577.  Of the 119,234 awards, 73% were from public institutions (45% from four-year and 28% from two-year). Three in four awards were for undergraduates in the form of bachelor's and associate’s degrees or certificates.

The Virginia General Assembly is in session, and a number of bills pertaining to higher education have been introduced.  This link provides a list of current bills, http://schev.edu/index/agency-info/legislative/legislative-bills.  Of particular interest to financial aid professionals in the Commonwealth are HB 2427 and HB 2426 both of which pertain to the VGAP grant program, HB 1916 which establishes the Virginia Student Loan Authority, and HB 1915 which requires loan servicers to obtain a license from the State Corporation Commission.  Each of these bills currently are in committee.


As the Florida Legislature ramps up for the session that starts March 7th, several bills impacting Higher Education have been filed.

SB2, is the widest ranging, included in this bill:

1.      A requirement for the State University’s to create block tuition for Undergraduate Students (currently tuition is charged by the credit hour).

2.      Requiring the State College System and the State University System to create 2+2 pathway programs where each State College will establish at least one such program with a State University.

3.      Restoring funding to The Bright Futures Florida Academic Scholars program so that 100% of tuition and mandatory fees are covered along with a $300 book stipend.

4.      Some changes to the performance metrics for Florida State College System and State University System.

5.      Changes to the Pre-eminent and Emerging Pre-eminent program for the State University System

6.      Changing the First Generation Matching Grant Program from $1 state for every $1 private to $2 state for every $1 private funds raised.

7.      Renaming the Florida Resident Access Grant (FRAG) to Effective Access to Student Education grant.

8.      Changes to the Benacquisto Scholarship Program that will allow non-Florida residents to receive the scholarship.

There is also SB369, included in this bill:

1.      Requiring notifying students at postsecondary institutions that receive state financial aid:

a.      The amount of loans they have borrowed.

b.      Either the total potential payoff or an estimate of a range of the total payoff.

c.       Monthly repayment amount that may be incurred including principal and interest for loans already taken out.

d.      The percentage of the borrowing limit the student has reached.

2.      The bill specifically states that the institution will not incur liability for providing this information.



The 2017 session of the 110th Tennessee General Assembly convened on Tuesday, January 10.  No significant bills related to state financial aid programs have been filed but a few are anticipated to be introduced in the coming weeks after a three-week legislative recess.

The state need-based grant program is at its highest funded level in the history of the program for the current award year.  It is hoped that an additional appropriation will be recommended in the Governor’s budget for 2017-18.

On January 30, 2017, the Governor gave his State of the State address which included a re-connect program that would allow all adults the opportunity to attend a community college tuition and fees free.