Washington Insights & Highlights
April 12, 2019
Federal Departments and Agencies News

Department of Education

Neg Reg Panel Reaches Agreement

The negotiated rulemaking panel tasked with developing recommendations around a set of proposed higher education regulations came to consensus last week. The agreed to changes will give more flexibility to accreditors; update federal distance education standards; and improve administration of the TEACH grant program. With respect to TEACH grants, the updated regulatory language would allow thousands of teachers whose grants were inappropriately converted into loans to appeal those decisions. In the coming months, the Department of Education will publish the agreed upon regulatory language in one or more Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) for public comment, before final rules are released.

PSLF Extension Data Shows High Levels of Rejections

According to new data from the Department of Education, the majority of borrowers who applied for a temporary extension of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program have been denied, mostly due to the applicants having failed to meet the requirement of making 10 years of loan payments. Congress approved a combined $700 million in temporary PSLF assistance over the past two fiscal years to help those borrowers who failed to qualify for forgiveness because they selected the wrong repayment plan. The data was provided in response to a request by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Lack of Action on Borrower-Defense Claims

According to recently released data by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, the Department of Education did not process any pending borrower-defense claims in the final six months of 2018. The data show that as of December 31, there were more than 158,000 claims unresolved. The department has indicated that this was a result of on-going litigation and that it will work to process the claims in the future. A federal court ruled in October that the current borrower-defense regulation must be enforced.

National Science Foundation

NSF Looks at Careers and Job Skills

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has completed the first of a two-phase competition, the Career Compass Challenge, to design tools to better understand career trajectories of its employees and the rest of the federal workforce. The project aims to implement technology, such as artificial intelligence, to map the knowledge and skills its employees already have and would need in the future.

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