Department of Education: Negotiated Rulemaking Committee

On October 4, 2021, the Department of Education issued a notice of intent to establish a Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. The Committee will review existing Department of Education programs and propose new regulations for these programs. Specifically, the Committee will address and hold public hearings on several topics, including the Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program and Improving the Grant Process for Total and Permanent Disability. The public hearings will take place from October 4-8, 2021.

For those interested in submitting comments to the Department of Education on the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, please submit your written comments on or before November 3, 2021.

Department of Education: Reforms to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF)

On October 6, 2021, the Department of Education made a much anticipated and welcome announcement concerning the overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). The PSLF program was meant to provide debt relief to teachers, nurses, firefighters, military members, and other public service workers, by cancelling their loans after 10 years of service. Unfortunately, the program has been difficult to navigate and unwieldy for student borrowers.


In the press release, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, “Borrowers who devote a decade of their lives to public service should be able to rely on the promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The system has not delivered on that promise to date, but that is about to change for many borrowers who have served their communities and country.”


While it may take up to a year for much-needed fixes to the program to occur, there are some immediate fixes:


  • A limited PSLF waiver that allows all payments by student borrowers to count towards PSLF regardless of loan program or payment plan. Thus, student borrowers who made payments under the Federal Family Education Loan program (FFEL) or the Perkins Loan Program will be able to have their payments count toward PSLF. To receive this waiver, student borrowers must submit a PSLF form by October 31, 2022.
  • Borrowers who currently have FFEL, Perkins, or other non-Direct Loans must apply to consolidate these loans into the Direct Loan program and submit a PSLF form by October 31, 2022.
  • Allow active-duty service members to count deferments and forbearances towards PSLF.
  • Automatically providing credit towards PSLF for military service members and federal employees using federal data matches.
  • Reviewing denied PSLF applications for errors and giving borrowers the ability to have their PSLF determinations reconsidered.


For more information about the overhaul of the PSLF program, please read the Department of Education’s Fact Sheet.

Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations and Agreement on Debt Ceiling Reached

After a week of negotiations, Senate leaders have reached a bipartisan agreement to raise the debt ceiling by $480 billion. That amount will allow the U.S. government to pay its debts until December 3, 2021.


Last week, Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed into law a short-term continuing resolution to fund the U.S. government until December 3, 2021. So far, the House of Representatives has passed 9 out of the 12 appropriations bills necessary to fund the government. While the Senate Appropriations Committee has marked-up and passed several appropriations bills, the full Senate has yet to consider any bills.

NIH Director Stepping Down

Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes of Health has announced that he will step down from the post at the end of the year. Dr. Collins is the longest-serving director for the agency, having been sworn into office in 2009. In an NIH press release, Dr. Collins said, “It has been an incredible privilege to lead this great agency for more than a decade,” said Dr. Collins. “I love this agency and its people so deeply that the decision to step down was a difficult one, done in close counsel with my wife, Diane Baker, and my family. I am proud of all we have accomplished. I fundamentally believe, however, that no single person should serve in the position too long, and that it is time to bring in a new scientist to lead the NIH into the future. I’m most grateful and proud of the NIH staff and the scientific community, whose extraordinary commitment to lifesaving research delivers hope to the American people and the world every day.”


In a White House press release, President Joe Biden said, “During the course of his extraordinary three-decade career at the National Institutes of Health, the NIH, and the world’s preeminent medical research organization, he helped finish the sequencing and mapping of the human genome to unlock the mysteries of our DNA, which earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.”


During his tenure as Director of NIH, Dr. Collins administered the agency’s role in driving research on public health issues like COVID-19, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and countless other conditions.

National Endowment for the Humanities: Nomination of Shelly C. Lowe

On October 5, 2021, President Joe Biden announced his intention to name Shelly C. Lowe to be the 12th Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Ms. Lowe currently serves on the National Council on the Humanities, the 26-member board that advises the NEH.


In the NEH press release, Ms. Lowe said “It is an honor and a privilege to be nominated by President Biden to serve as Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. My time serving on the National Council on the Humanities has been immensely rewarding, and I look forward to continuing to serve and advance the humanities in this new role. Ensuring the American people have access to humanities institutions, resources, and programs is absolutely critical in addressing the challenges of the 21st century.”