Legislative Update: March 14, 2019

Article originally sent out via Constant Contact on March 14, 2019

First committee deadline tomorrow

Hundreds of bills have been heard in committee so far this week, as both Senate and House committees work to meet tomorrow’s bill deadline. As a reminder, this is the first committee deadline. In order for policy bills to advance, committees must act favorably on them in the house of origin. The next deadline is Friday, March 29, when committees must act favorably on bills, or companions of bills, that met the first deadline in the other body. The final committee deadline is Friday, April 12, when committees must act favorably on major appropriation and finance bills.

The Senate and House higher education committees have had long agendas this week as they too work to meet tomorrow’s deadline. Most of the bills they’ve heard have been laid over for possible inclusion in the committee’s higher education omnibus bill. Committees traditionally hear multiple bills throughout session and in the end put together one large omnibus bill that then moves forward. Once we have a better idea of what the House and Senate higher education omnibus bills look like, we will provide those details. The House and Senate will very likely put together different bills, so a conference committee will be appointed to work through the differences and at the end of session, produce one higher education bill. It is still early in the process, but we will keep you updated as the omnibus bills start to come together.

Higher Education highlights from President Trump’s 2020 budget

Earlier this week, President Trump released his 2020 fiscal year budget. Included in the budget are a number of provisions that would affect many current students and recent graduates. Below are a few higher education highlights:

Education Department Budget: Trump’s 2020 fiscal year budget would cut Education Department funding by about $8.5 billion or 12 percent.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans: The plan would narrow the numerous income-driven repayment plans to one. Those plans cap people’s bills at a percentage of their income. Under that option, students’ monthly payments would be limited to 12.5 percent of their discretionary income, compared with 10 percent now. Remaining debt would be canceled after 15 years for undergraduate students, and 30 years for graduate students.

Federal Work Study Program: The federal work study program faces cuts under Trump’s proposal. The budget has a $500-million request from the department for federal work-study programs, which is $630 million less than in last year’s budget.

Pell Grants: Pell Grants would be expanded to cover short-term training programs.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness: The public service loan forgiveness program is eliminated in the proposed budget.

Subsidized Student Debt: The budget eliminates subsidized federal Stafford loans, in which interest doesn’t accrue on the loans while borrowers are in school or in economic hardship.

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