Higher Ed Policy Roundup

Week of April 21, 2017

This Week In Washington

Congress is still in recess this week, but things are happening in higher ed policy:

On April 14, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that its Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity will begin investigating whether student loan servicers are discriminating against borrowers in default based on their race, ethnicity, age or gender. The CFPB will examine outcomes for all student loan borrowers who are in default on federal and private education loans to evaluate for discrimination.

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said this week that Congress will look at university endowments as it reviews the tax code for potential changes. Endowments, the earnings from which are exempt from federal income tax, have come under scrutiny by several congressional committees in recent years.

News You Can Use

The decision by Whittier College Board of Trustees to shut down the law school is facing backlash from faculty and students.

A new bipartisan bill in Washington state will require colleges to send students emails or letters informing them how much they owe in student loans and how much their monthly payments will be after graduation.

Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico stripped more than $750 million for higher education and the Legislature from the state budget. While she has expressed a willingness to work with the Legislature on restoring those finds, she would like to do so without increasing taxes.

Student loan servicer Navient is purchasing J.P. Morgan Chase’s $6.9 billion student loan portfolio. Student loan borrower advocates and state law enforcement officials raised concerns about the sale, citing Navient’s failure to assist struggling borrowers.  

Recent Legislation

The following bill was recently introduced for consideration by the 115th Congress:

H.R. 1937 – Student Security Act of 2017 [Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-VA)] would allow borrowers to obtain student loan forgiveness if they delay their eligibility to receive Social Security benefits.