Biden Administration announces national strategy promoting safety and equity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities

The Biden administration convened federal officials to announce a national strategy to advance equitable opportunities for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities. The strategy includes 32 federal agency plans that aim to create opportunities for AANHPI communities and address anti-Asian hate. The plan from USED lists multiple accomplishments that the administration has achieved in supporting AANHPI students, and outlines three goals the department has set to achieve over the next two years: Further disaggregate USED data to provide more insights into the experiences and challenges of the AA and NHPI communities; increase engagement with the AA and NHPI communities to help understand the unique needs of and ways to support each AA and NHPI subgroup; and build capacity for AA and NHPI supporting institutions to effectively compete for grants.

Rep. Virginia Foxx chosen to chair House Education and the Workforce Committee

House Republicans chose Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) to return to the chairmanship of the House Education and the Workforce Committee – a position she held when Republicans last controlled the House. (The Committee was titled “Education and Labor” under Democrats and is once again “Education and the Workforce” under Republicans.) In her first press release, Chair Foxx outlined her agenda, noting that “Conducting vigorous and sustained oversight of the federal government, especially the Departments of Education and Labor, will be among my top priorities. We must stop this administration’s reckless and destructive regulatory agenda.” Her legislative and oversight agenda will be vastly different than that of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the incoming chair of the Senate HELP Committee; as with most committees, it doesn’t seem likely that there will be much substantive bipartisan, bicameral legislation moving forward this Congress.

ED proposes new income-driven repayment plan for student loans

The Department of Education proposed regulations to create a new income-driven repayment plan that would cut monthly repayments in half for some students while simplifying the program. The Department has a press release that describes the proposed changes and a fact sheet here. NRP has a good article that, in addition to outlining the regulations, gives the background on why Congress froze funding for student aid administration for fiscal year 2023, and the implications of that funding freeze on not only the possibility of implementing changes to the income-driven repayment plans, but also restarting payments of student loans after the pandemic pause, completing a multi-year plan to update student loan servicing, and proceeding with the Department’s plan for student debt relief if the Supreme Court rules that the plan is permissible.

ED Requests Information Regarding Public Transparency for Low-financial-value Postsecondary Programs.

The U.S. Department of Education is seeking information to help increase transparency and public accountability by drawing attention to the postsecondary programs that are most likely to leave students with unaffordable loans and provide the lowest financial returns for students and taxpayers. The Department of Education is referring to these as “low-financial-value” programs for the purposes of this RFI, while acknowledging some of these programs may provide non-economic value. The Department believes annually publishing a list of the programs with the lowest financial value will draw public attention to these programs. The Department also is committed to sending letters to institutions with the most concerning programs to ask for their plans to improve the value of their programs. These steps should reduce the extent to which students and taxpayers are exposed to the negative consequences resulting from low-financial-value programs. To help inform the construction of the list of low financial-value programs, the Department is seeking input from the public on which measures and metrics to use to determine “financial-value”, what data could be leveraged to assist this effort, and other technical considerations. Comments will be accepted until on or about February 10th 2023. The notice can be found here.