Department of Education Accountability and Loan Repayment Action
On January 11, the Department of Education published two key items in the Federal Register of interest to APLU institutions. It published a Request for Information (RFI) on “Public Transparency for Low-Financial-Value Postsecondary Programs.” The request seeks information from the public on how to best identify low-value postsecondary programs, including feedback on measures and metrics, the structure for the list of programs, data elements, and how best to share the information with the public.
Additionally, the Department published its proposed rules for a new Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan, updating the existing REPAYE plan with more generous benefits that would result in lower monthly payments for borrowers who choose this option. This builds on President Biden’s announcement of a new IDR plan, as a part of the Biden administration’s actions to address student debt.
Both items have a 30-day public comment window, with comments due on Friday, February 10, 2023. APLU is working closely with the higher education community on public comments to address both items.
Department of Education Requesting Information on Sec. 117 Reporting
The Department of Education posted a notice in the Federal Register on December 27 requesting a new information collection regarding Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, which requires institutions to report certain foreign gifts and contracts. With this new request for information, the Department would return the collection of this information to Federal Student Aid (FSA). The information collection responsibility had been moved to the ED’s Office of General Counsel under the previous presidential administration.
The notice also includes a series of question from the Department focused on how the department could improve the Sec. 117 reporting system. Comments on the notice are due February 27, 2023. APLU and its association partners will review the notice and submit comments.
House & Senate Key Committee Leadership Comes Into Focus
Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has been named Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) will serve as Ranking Member. On the Senate side, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will serve as Chair of the Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) serving as Ranking Member.
Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK) will serve as Chair of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee after serving as Ranking Member in the previous Congress. Following Chair Eddie Bernice Johnson’s (D-TX) retirement, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) will serve as the Ranking Member on the committee. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) will continue to serve as Chair of Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) filling the Ranking Member role.
On appropriations, Representative Kay Granger (R-TX) will serve as Chair after serving as Ranking Member in the previous Congress. After serving as Chair in the previous Congress, Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will serve as Ranking Member. Additionally, Chair Granger released subcommittee chairs, pending approval by the full Republican Conference. In the Senate, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will serve as Chair following the retirement of Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) will serve as Ranking Member following the retirement of Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL).
State Department Extends Interview Waivers for F Visa Applicants
On December 23, the State Department extended the authority of consular officers to waive in-person interviews for first-time and renewing Student (F and M visas) and Academic Exchange Visitors (academic J visas) petitioners on a case by case basis through December 31, 2023. State reports half of the nearly seven million nonimmigrant visas issued in FY22 were adjudicated without an in-person interview and that the extension will lower visa wait times worldwide.
USCIS Issues Proposed Rule to Adjust Certain Immigration and Naturalization Fees
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking tomorrow in the Federal Register to adjust certain immigration and naturalization fees. Per USCIS, the new fees will allow greater recovery of its operating costs, reestablish and maintain timely case processing, and prevent the accumulation of future case backlogs. USCIS currently receives 96 percent of its funding from filing fees. The 60-day comment period will begin following publication of the rule tomorrow. Under the rule, H-1B petitioners, those applying for naturalization, and those with temporary visas applying for a green card will see fees increase.
APLU is reviewing the proposal and will submit comments.
President Biden Signs Student Veterans Bill Into Law
On January 5, President Biden signed into law the Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act of 2022 (H.R. 7939). The bill accomplishes several APLU priorities for veterans education benefits:
There are additional provisions added to the bill prior to its passage that the APLU staff is currently reviewing.
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