FUTURE Act pressure –
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, continues to feel pressure to move the FUTURE Act, which secures $255 million in annual funding for HBCUs and minority-serving institutions (MSIs). This funding expired on September 30th. Though having sailed through the House, Sen. Alexander opposed passing the legislation on unanimous consent in order to create leverage to pass his scaled-back version of reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, in which he included the funding. Thirty-six Senate Democrats signed a letter to leadership in support of the legislation, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).
Higher Education Reauthorization in the House –
And speaking of reauthorization, the House Committee on Education and Labor passed on Halloween on a party-line vote a mark-up of the majority version of reauthorization, known as the Affordability Act.
The bill now moves to the Ways and Means Committee, which must find how to pay for the bill, which has a price tag of $400 million over the next 10 years.
Some of the most notable provisions of the 1,000+ page bill include:
- Increases support of financial aid programs, for example increasing the maximum Pell Grant by $625 to $6,820.
- Removes the annual FAFSA filing requirement for Pell Grant recipients.
- Creates two repayment plans for federal student loans:
- Fixed plans of 10, 15, and 20 years.
- Income-based plan that captures 10% of income for 20 years, after which the balance is forgiven.