House subcommittee approves bill that would cut NSF social science research

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House Republicans pass a measure to cut social science research and place new restrictions on the funding process. 

Congressional Aide Will Lead Private Lender Group

The top education adviser for Republicans on the House of Representatives education committee will leave his post to lead a trade association that represents private student lenders, loan servicers and collection agencies.  

James Bergeron, the director for education and human services policy under House education committee chair Representative John Kline of Minnesota, will next month become president of the National Council of Higher Education Resources, the organization announced Wednesday. Bergeron will succeed the current president of three years, Shelly Repp, who is scaling back his workload at the organization, according to a press release. 

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GAO cites 'serious weaknesses' in federal oversight of debt management system

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The Education Department's oversight of its debt management system has been lacking, say Congressional investigators and the agency's own inspector general. 

Education inspector general calls for tighter debit card regulations

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Department of Education’s inspector general joins other federal investigators in calling for stricter rules on campus debit cards, as the agency contemplates new regulations on the products.

Lawmaker Praises Colleges’ Changes to Financial Aid Sites

The Democratic Congressman who last month accused more than 100 colleges of misleading students about the requirements for federal student aid said Monday that he is satisfied with the changes institutions have since made to their websites.

Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, wrote in a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan that “it appears that all 111 of the identified in my investigation have made changes to their websites to clarify their requirements for student aid applications and to ensure that they are in compliance with the law.” He added that the changes colleges made to their websites reflect "a commitment to ensuring that students receive appropriate instructions when applying for financial aid.”

Cummings previously posted a list of colleges that appeared to be either requiring student to submit the fee-based CSS Profile as a condition of receiving federal aid or insinuating that the form was required to access federal grants and loans. Federal law prohibits colleges from imposing such a requirement. 

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Missouri Backlash Against Western Governors U.

Missouri lawmakers have attached to a budget bill a ban on using state student aid at institutions that do not have, for purposes of accreditation, a headquarters in the state. The Columbia Daily Tribune reported that this is an effort to limit the use of state funds at Western Governors University Missouri, an offshoot of the competency-based online university. Governor Jay Nixon is a big proponent of Western Governors, but some legislators say that it will take money that is needed for other institutions in the state.

Obamas Promote Federal Student Aid Application

President Obama on Friday will lay out more details about the education proposals in his budget and also discuss his administration’s efforts to get more students to apply for federal student aid.

The President and First Lady Michelle Obama plan to visit a high school in Miami where they will kick off a previously-announced initiative by the Education Department to boost completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. Education Department officials will share data with states and high schools on which of their students have begun the FAFSA so that counselors can work with those students to actually complete the form, which is required to receive federal grants and loans for college.

As part of her recent higher education push, Mrs. Obama has been speaking out about the importance of applying for federal aid. Last month she tapped a public service announcement encouraging students to fill out the FAFSA.

In a fact sheet accompanying the Obamas’ trip, the White House touted a 33 percent increase in the number of FAFSA forms filed over the course of the Obama administration, which shortened and streamlined the application.  The number of FAFSA submissions increased from 16.4 million in 2008-2009 to 21.8 million in 2012-2013, the White House said. But efforts to target low-income students, in particular, have had more mixed results. The percentage of low-income students who filed a FAFSA for the first time in the 2013 fiscal year ticked down to 57.1 percent from 60.3 percent the previous year, failing to meet the department’s own goal.  

Department officials have said they are also considering allowing web developers to build third-party services and applications that can interact with the FAFSA form, which is currently available only through the government’s website. 

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Progressive groups launch new campaign to tackle student debt, college affordability

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A new campaign is focused on refinancing existing student debt, pushing states to reinvest in higher education, and seeking to hold colleges more accountable for tuition costs. 

Obama budget calls for changes to education tax benefits

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President Obama will seek to make a tuition tax credit permanent and exempt student loan debt forgiveness from taxation.

Undocumented Students Eligible for Aid in Washington State

A new law has made Washington State the fifth state where students who lack the legal documentation to live permanently in the United States are eligible for state student aid, Reuters reported. Governor Jay Inslee, a Democrat, said that the law would help "thousands of bright, talented and very hard working students across the state of Washington."

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