NAICU Washington Update

And the Rules Go Round and Round

The Department of Education has two negotiated rule-making panels working to formulate regulations based on changes in the Higher Education Act made in the recently-passed reconciliation bill, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. One panel is focused exclusively on the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants. The other is looking at a number of changes to the loan programs, including the new income-based repayment plan and the question of a federal preemption of state law when state law conflicts with provisions of the Higher Education Act.

Funding for TEACH grants become available July 1, 2008, so the department is moving very quickly to develop draft rules for the grants. Negotiations began January 8, and should be completed by February 8. The loan panel is on a somewhat slower track. Its second meeting will be held February 4-6, and there will likely be a third negotiating session.

TEACH grants provide $4,000 per year for students who plan, and take course work, to become teachers. Undergraduates may receive up to $16,000, and master's level students up to $8,000. Recipients must teach for four years in a low-income school in a specified field, or the grant converts to a loan with interest computed from the day the grant was disbursed. Negotiators have uncovered a number of problems that may only be corrected by a change in statute, such as being unable to find a job that fulfills the service obligation.

NAICU nominated two people to serve on either panel. Scott Fleming, assistant vice president for federal relations at Georgetown University, and Tip O'Neill, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Nebraska, were selected to serve on the TEACH panel, as primary and alternate negotiators respectively. Maureen Budetti, director of student aid policy at NAICU, was asked to serve as an alternate to Ellis Salim, vice president of student services at Baker College in Michigan, who was appointed to represent private colleges. Janet Dodson, director of financial aid at Doane College in Nebraska and Bernard Pekala, Jr., director of financial strategies at Boston College, also were selected to represent private colleges. Terry Hartle, senior vice president at the American Council on Education, was appointed as the primary negotiator for associations, with Cyndy Littlefield, director of federal relations at the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, as the alternate.

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