Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

Updates on state and federal issues relating to the UW System.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

HEA Technical Corrections Bill

The U.S. House and U.S. Senate voted final approval on June 24 of the Higher Education Act technical corrections bill (H.R. 1777).

The bill ensures the continuation of the Department of Education's "experimental site" program on existing campuses for another year and defines a successful program as one that reduces administrative cost and increases student services without additional cost to the government.

This was a big issue for five UW System schools -- UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and UW-Stout -- which are experimental sites for "loan proration." Retention of the site program is good news, as was cancellation of the PLUS auction.

Further, the Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that the measure, which passed both houses unanimously, also corrects a glitch in veterans’ educational benefits which would have required some veterans to return federal student aid funding; enables a student with a parent who has died on active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan to receive a full Pell Grant award, and allows loan guarantee agencies to sell rehabilitated student loans back to the federal government. The latter change would allow many borrowers in default to “escape from their debt and clear their credit histories.”

FAFSA Simplification
Last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan unveiled the Department of Education’s proposal for simplifying the application process for federal student aid. Over the next few months, the Department expects to streamline the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and work with Congress to eliminate dozens of questions on the form related to family income and assets. (The latter steps require changes in federal law.) The Department is working with the Treasury Department on a pilot program that will allow students and families applying for aid for the 2010 spring semester to retrieve their tax information from the Internal Revenue Service for easy completion of nearly a dozen FAFSA questions.