This week, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) was selected to serve as Chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee for the 118th Congress. Representative Foxx said in a statement, “I am deeply honored by the trust placed in me by my colleagues to chair a committee whose work touches the lives of every American. I do not take this trust or responsibility lightly. I will use my position to protect the rights of workers, job creators, students, and parents.” During the 117th Congress and now in the 118th Congress, Chairwoman Foxx has expressed concerns about the Biden Administration’s student loan forgiveness plan and proposed reforms to student aid programs. This week, Chairwoman Foxx sent letters to administration officials renewing the congressional inquiries that began in the last congress. For more information on the renewed congressional inquiries, please see the Education and the Workforce Committee’s press release.
In addition to Chairwoman Foxx, Representatives Kay Granger (R-TX) was selected to chair the House Appropriations Committee, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Frank Lucas (R-OK) the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
In the Senate, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) is set to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee, Joe Manchin III (D-WV) the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Maria Cantwell (D-WA) the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
As House and Senate committee assignments are finalized, the CGS staff will include this information in future Washington Insights & Highlights Newsletters.
Department of Education Proposes Reforms to Income-Driven Repayment Plans
The Biden Administration recently announced its plan to reform income-driven repayment regulations. For the last year, the Biden Administration has proposed changes to several student aid and loan forgiveness programs, including IDR plans. In this announcement, the regulation would amend the Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE) repayment plan by not requiring student borrowers with an annual income below $30,500 to make monthly payments on their loans. Additionally, borrowers with undergraduate loans would only be required to pay 5 percent of their discretionary income on loans. Borrowers who have only graduate school loans would still pay 10 percent. A fact sheet on the changes can be found here.
Also, the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid released a dear colleague letter regarding community service requirements for the Federal Work Study program. The letter reminds institutions that mentoring positions, including for the purposes of tutoring, in public K-12 schools fulfill the community service requirement in the program.
Update on Student Loan Forgiveness
Earlier this month, the Biden Administration filed a legal brief with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Student Debt Relief Program announced in August 2022. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments regarding two debt-relief lawsuits from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Eighth Circuit on February 28. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued in a statement regarding the legal brief, “The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to fighting to deliver essential student debt relief to tens of millions of Americans. As part of this commitment, today the Departments of Education and Justice filed a legal brief with the Supreme Court explaining our legal authority under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act to carry out our program of one-time, targeted debt relief.”
Department of Energy Announces Millions for Traineeships
The Department of Energy recently announced $56 million to provide research opportunities to historically underrepresented groups and institutions in STEM. The funding is through the DOE Office of Science’s Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (RENEW) initiative to support internships, mentorship, and training programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), and research institutions. Webinars will be held for potential applicants and research administrators to learn more about the funding announcements.
NEH Announces Awards for 204 Humanities Projects
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced $28.1 million in grants for 204 humanities projects across the country. All of the grant awards can be found here. Seventy grants, totaling $3.9 million, went to fellowships to support advanced research in the humanities by college and university teachers and independent scholars. NEH received $207 million in funding for Fiscal Year 2023, a boost of $27 million (15 percent increase) from Fiscal Year 2022. You can view funding for CGS programs of interest here.
Survey of Postgraduate Employment for the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship
The Department of Education is requesting formal comments for their Survey of Postgraduate Employment for the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship Program. FLAS provides allocations to institutions of higher education or consortia of institutions of higher education to assist undergraduate and graduate students undergoing training in modern foreign languages and related area or international studies. Late last year, the 117th Congress appropriated $85.7 million for International Education and Foreign Language Studies programs administered by the Department of Education , of which FLAS is one program out of many international education programs. The deadline for the submission of written comments is March 13, 2023.