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Legislative Update - January 2018
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The National Council for Workforce Education


January 2018

Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA)
  • The House Education and Workforce Committee, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), voted to bring to the full House a bill that would reauthorize the Higher Education Act. This iteration is called the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act.
  • The PROSPER Act includes:
    • Streamlining of financial aid, including the elimination of some grant and loan programs.
    • Lower threshold for financial aid for short-term job training programs (300 hours rather than the current 600 hours).
    • “Risk-sharing” for colleges in terms of student loans. Colleges would disburse smaller loan awards to students more frequently, and would be responsible for returning funds to the federal government for students who fail to maintain eligibility.
    • New apprenticeship grants.
    • Roll-back of several Obama Administration rules on transparency and gainful employment. The concept of a College Dashboard (formerly College Navigator) would remain.
  • The American Association of Community Colleges and the American Association of Community College Trustees has written a letter recommending improvements to the PROSPER Act:
  • The Senate will probably introduce a reauthorization bill later this session.

Perkins Act

  • In the summer, the House of Representatives passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which would reauthorize Perkins through Fiscal Year (FY) 2022.
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held hearings on Perkins reauthorization in January. A bipartisan Senate bill is in progress but has not been released yet.
  • Groups like the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the National Skills Coalition (NSC), and the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE) strongly support Perkins reauthorization.

Federal Budget

  • After a brief shutdown, the government is open again and has another continuing resolution to continue funding until early February.
  • Workforce programs may get a similar level of funding to what they received in the previous year.
  • The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released a fact sheet showing the reduction in funding for employment and training programs over time. CLASP noted that E&T funds were $7-8 billion annually in the early 2000’s and are now about $5 billion annually.

Other News

  • The Trump Administration gave states new authorization to mandate work/community engagement for Medicaid recipients.
  • Similar work requirements might be introduced in the Agriculture reauthorization bill. Two aspects of this bill are particularly important to community colleges. Many low-income college students rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Also, many colleges run workforce programs using SNAP E&T funds.
  • Education Secretary DeVos has proposed rules that would make it harder for students to get loan forgiveness when they attend colleges, trade schools, or other educational entities that go out of businesses. Individual students would have to prove that the training provider intentionally deceived them in order to have their student loans forgiven.
  • Labor Secretary Acosta and the Apprenticeship Task Force are expected to release several recommendations for expanding apprenticeship soon. Also, DOL has created a toolkit to assist those interested in developing apprenticeship programs. The toolkit is a useful step-by-step resource:

Special thanks to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), National Skills Coalition (NSC), and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) for much of the information contained in this update.

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