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Federal Update – Feb. 21

Federal Update – Feb. 21

KEY DEVELOPMENTSSee full stories below

House Education and Workforce Leadership: Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) announced that she will not seek an additional term as the Republican leader on the House Education and Workforce Committee.Negotiated Rulemaking Committee on Student Loan Forgiveness: The Department released its proposed language for the upcoming Negotiated Rulemaking Committee session on Student Loan Debt Relief, which will be held February 22 – February 23, 2024.

FAFSA Relief Measures: The Department announced that it is taking a number of measures to better assist institutions and students, as the Department continues to experience processing delays with the new FAFSA. These measures include: the reduction of verification requirements, the suspension of all new program reviews through June 2024, and additional flexibility on renewing participation in federal student aid programs.

CONGRESSIONAL HEADLINES

House Education and Workforce Committee LeadershipChairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) announced that she will not seek a new term as the Republican leader on the House Education and Workforce Committee next term. Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI.) and Burgess Owens (R-UT) are the top candidates to replace Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), with Rep. Tim Walberg as the presumptive favorite. AACS is engaged with both Reps. Walberg and Owens.

DEPARTMENT HEADLINES

Student Loan Forgiveness The Department released its proposed language for the upcoming Negotiated Rulemaking Committee session on Student Loan Debt Relief, which will be held February 22 – February 23, 2024. The proposed language will implement a one-time mass cancellation of student loan debt for borrowers who are highly likely to default on their loans within the next two years. Additionally, the one-time cancellation will apply to borrowers experiencing “undue hardship,” which the Department defines further in its proposed language.

Additional information on the student debt relief rulemaking process – as well as the link to participate in the session – is posted on the Department’s website.

FAFSA Delays 

The Department announced that it is taking a number of measures to better assist institutions and students, as the Department continues to experience processing delays with the new FAFSA. In particular, the Department announced that it will:

  • Reduce verification requirements, which will reduce the burden for institutions and students;
  • Suspend all new program reviews through June 2024, except for those related to the most serious issues like suspected fraud or a severe breach of fiduciary duty; and,
  • Provide additional flexibility on renewing participation in federal student aid programs. The Department will waive that 90-day requirement for schools whose PPA expires in March, June, or September 2024, meaning these schools have until their expiration day to submit a recertification application.

The Department is taking the measures outlined above along with additional measures that it outlined in its FAFSA College Support Strategy, which Secretary Cardona announced in early February. The Department subsequently provided additional guidance on the FAFSA College Support Strategy and its various offerings for institutions and students.

It is noted that the Government Accountability Office recently announced that it has opened two investigations into the Department for its handling of the new FAFSA rollout.

Department Announcements 

The Direct Loan established data submission (closeout) deadline for the 2022–23 Program Year is Friday, July 31, 2024. This is the last processing day of the program year, so all school data must be received and accepted by this date to be included in a school’s final Ending Cash Balance for the year. As a reminder, all cash management, disbursement reporting, and monthly reconciliation regulatory requirements supersede the closeout deadline.

The Department has begun publishing additional test versions of the Institutional Student Information Record(ISIR). The new test ISIR data file contains fictitious student records with realistic field values for different scenarios. The test ISIRs and open-source tools are stored in a public Department of Education GitHub repository.

The Department released guidance for institutions that wish to have direct assessment (competency-based) programs considered for Title IV, Higher Education Act (HEA) program eligibility, including requirements for approval of such programs under the current regulations on direct assessment programs. The Department published a final rule amending its regulations related to competency-based education programs, including direct assessment programs, on September 2, 2020. Those final regulations, located in 34 CFR 668.10, include changes to the definition of a “direct assessment program,” update the procedures and requirements for an institution that offers such a program to apply for the program to be determined an eligible program, and specify limitations on the use of Title IV program funds. If your institution wishes to have a direct assessment program determined to be an eligible program for Title IV, HEA program purposes, you must submit an updated E-App including the new program.

Secretary Cardona published a semiannual agenda of Federal regulatory and deregulatory actions. The agenda is issued under the authority of section 4(b) of Executive Order 12866, “Regulatory Planning and Review.” The purpose of the agenda is to encourage more effective public participation in the regulatory process by providing the public with early information about the regulatory actions we plan to take.

For More InformationIf you have any questions about this Update, please email info@beautyschools.org.

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State Update – June 4

The first week of the June finds only 14 state legislatures actively meeting. Recent and upcoming legislative adjournments include Louisiana on June 3 and New York on June 6. 

Another four states – Arizona, Delaware, New Hampshire and Rhode Island – will be adjourning their respective 2024 legislative sessions at the end of the month.

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