Category Archives: Government

Politics and policy in higher education.


Panel Will Guide Expansion of Education Dept.’s Debt-Relief Program

The U.S. Department of Education announced plans on Tuesday to establish a negotiated rule-making panel charged with hashing out how to expand the income-based student-loan repayment program. In a notice to be published in Wednesday’s Federal Register, the department specifies that a panel of negotiators will meet in February 2015 for as many as three sessions.

President Obama announced plans in June to extend the Pay as You Earn benefit to people with older loans. The program caps participants’…


School District Cuts Ties With Christian College Over Hiring Protection for Gays

A school district in Massachusetts has cut ties with Gordon College, citing its president’s plea for an exemption to a rule preventing federal contractors from discriminating against gay and lesbian people, The Boston Globe reports.

The Lynn School Committee, which governs the city’s public-school district, is the latest institution to protest D. Michael Lindsay’s signature on a letter asking the federal government to exempt religious colleges from the executive order. The city of Salem, Mass., …


Higher-Ed Lobby Is Concerned About Red Tape in Democrats’ Reauthorization Bill

The American Council on Education and 20 other higher-education interest groups wrote a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin on Friday expressing concerns about additional regulation proposed in Senate Democrats’ draft plan to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.

“We are concerned that the discussion draft includes a substantial number of new requirements, but does not eliminate any existing ones,” wrote Molly Corbett Broad, the council’s president. “This approach will only serve to exacerbate an already …


Student Debt in Mind, Education Dept. Renegotiates Loan Servicers’ Contracts

The U.S. Department of Education on Friday announced it had renegotiated its contracts with federal student-loan servicers, giving them more incentives to keep borrowers from defaulting on their loans.

President Obama announced plans to renegotiate the contracts in June, but Friday’s announcement provides more detail. For example, customer-satisfaction surveys will now play a larger role in how the servicers are evaluated, according to a statement from the department.

Student-loan servicers have…


‘Yes Means Yes’ Bill Clears California Legislature

California lawmakers gave final approval on Thursday to a bill that would require colleges to adopt a “yes means yes” standard for defining sexual consent in investigations of sexual-assault allegations, the Bay Area News Group reported.

If the measure, Senate Bill 967, is signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, all public and private colleges that receive state student-aid money would have to agree that silence or lack of resistance does not imply a green light for sex, and that drunkenness is not…


U.S. Senator Asks California Colleges to Voluntarily Adopt Her Sex-Assault Bill

Sen. Barbara Boxer wrote a letter on Tuesday asking California higher-education leaders to voluntarily carry out the provisions of a bill she introduced last month aimed at preventing sexual assault on college campuses.

The Survivor Outreach and Support Campus Act, introduced by Senator Boxer and another California Democrat, Rep. Susan Davis, would require all federally funded colleges to appoint a victim’s advocate charged with supporting survivors of campus sexual assault in a myriad of ways. …


U.S. and Calif. Agencies Put New Restrictions on Corinthian Colleges

Corinthian Colleges Inc., the troubled for-profit higher-education company that is gradually closing its doors under an agreement with the U.S. Education Department, is facing new challenges on two fronts, both made public on Monday.

First, the company said in a regulatory filing that the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has accused Corinthian of violating the Dodd-Frank Act and the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. The agency told the company it would be open to a settlement if Cori…


Interest-Rate Cap on Loans Is Now Automatic for Qualifying Service Members

The Department of Education on Monday made it easier for members of the armed forces to pay lower interest rates on their federal student loans. Service members who qualify for a cap on their interest rates under the Higher Education Opportunity Act have had to request that the benefit be applied to their loans. But the department’s new guidance directs student-loan servicers to consult a government database and automatically apply the cap for qualifying borrowers.


U.S. Offers Religious Colleges New Accommodation on Contraceptive Insurance

The Obama administration on Friday offered a new accommodation to nonprofit religious organizations, including colleges affiliated with faith groups, that object to providing contraceptive coverage as required by the administration’s health-care law, Politico reported.

The administration has sought several times to ease the objections of organizations that, for religious reasons, oppose  providing coverage for contraceptives. But so far those accommodations have failed to satisfy religious colle…


Calif. Says Catholic Colleges’ Health Plans Must Include Abortion Coverage

California’s health department has reversed an earlier decision that had exempted two Roman Catholic universities from a state law that requires employee health-insurance plans to cover most abortions, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. But the Cardinal Newman Society and two advocacy groups that oppose abortion have urged the department to retract its latest decision, warning that it violates federal law and puts federal funds for California at risk.

A 1975 state law requires group health pla…