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In the Tax Reform Crosshairs: The Advertising Deduction

Posted in Higher Education News, News from the Hill, Tax Issues

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

Under current law, advertising costs are fully deductible as an ordinary business expense. As our DLA Piper colleagues Evan Migdail and Bruce Thompson write in a new client alert: “Both the House and Senate Tax Committee chairmen are considering proposals to limit the deduction for advertising expenses.”

As they report, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) has released a detailed discussion draft on business tax reform which includes a proposal to limit the advertising deduction to 50 percent, with the balance amortized over 5 years.  In that proposal (see page 104),  an “advertising expenditure” is defined (starting on page 105) as any expenditure paid or incurred for the development, creation or placement of advertising, or for any similar activity with respect to advertising. “Advertising” is defined as any message or other programming material which is broadcast or otherwise transmitted, published, displayed or distributed and which promotes or markets any trade or business, service, facility or product.  Importantly, “any amounts paid to employees and contractors for performing sales functions” are excluded from the definition of advertising.

Crucially, “House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Michigan) is said to have a similar provision in his tax reform plan – which has yet to be released – limiting the deduction to 50 percent, with the balance amortized over 10 years.”  Given the apparent agreement on this point (at this time), this proposal must be treated as serious.

It remains to be seen, however, whether certain functions – such as online lead generation – will be classified as “advertising” or whether amounts paid for lead will be classified as “amounts paid to . . . contractors for performing sales functions.”

For more, please look at the client alert.

On December 3rd, House Subcommittee to Discuss Proposals to Strengthen Pell Grant Program

Posted in Financial Aid (Loans & Grants), Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On Tuesday, December 3rd at 10:00 a.m. in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), will hold a hearing entitled, “Keeping College Within Reach: Strengthening Pell Grants for Future Generations.”  The hearing will be webcast for those not able to attend.

The witnesses for the hearing will be:

Mr. Justin Draeger
President and CEO
National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
Washington, D.C.

Dr. Jenna Ashley Robinson
Director of Outreach
John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy
Raleigh, North Carolina

Mr. Michael Dannenberg
Director of Higher Education and Education Finance Policy
The Education Trust
Washington, D.C.

Mr. Richard C. Heath
Director, Student Financial Services
Anne Arundel Community College
Arnold, Maryland

Senate Forms Task Force to Review Higher Ed Regulations and Reporting Requirements

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

In an statement earlier today, Senate education committee Ranking Member Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and members Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) “announced the formation of a task force to examine burdens on institutions of higher education.”  The “Task Force on Government Regulation of Higher Education” will review federal regulations and reporting requirements affecting colleges and universities and “make recommendations to reduce and streamline regulations.”

The task force is to be co-chaired by Nicholas Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt University, and William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland.  It will comprise 14 college and university presidents and higher education experts. Also, the American Council on Education will provide organizational assistance.

Additional Information on the Government Shut Down from Federal Student Aid

Posted in Department of Education, Higher Education News, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

In our report on the budget showdown, I neglected to link to the letter from James Runcie, the COO of the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) about the budget shutdown.  In short, much as we reported yesterday, FSA’s operations will largely continue for student and schools.  As there will be few administrative staff in DC or the regional offices, FSA officials won’t be holding an webinars or attending speaking engagements during the shut down.  Happily, as an attachment to the letter shows, most of FSA’s customer service contact centers will remain open.  The new Reach FSA voice-activated phone number (1-855-FSA-4-FAA or 1-855-372-4322) will also remain operational.

What the Budget Showdown Means for Higher Education

Posted in Department of Education, Financial Aid (Loans & Grants), Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

Well, it’s September 30th and that means is the end of the Federal Government’s fiscal year.  Before anyone bites into the cake, however, Congress still needs to pass a new budget (or continuing resolution.  Otherwise, the government will shut down.  Happily, the Department of Education (Department) updated the playbook for when the government shuts down.

As an aside, as we are also heading to a standoff over raising the debt ceiling, I humbly suggest the Department (assuming it has staff to do) offer information on what would happen if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling (in case you are interested, the Congressional Research Service put out a number of helpful reports we highlighted earlier this year).  The lack of information when this happened two years ago caused confusion and worry among students, parents and schools over what would happen to loans and grants, among other things.

As for the shut down, the Department’s memo explains there will not be very many folks working at the Department during a shutdown:

the Department would furlough over 90 percent of its total staff level [the Department has 4,225 full and part-time employees] for the first week of such a lapse.  During this first week, we would maintain only those excepted functions related to the discharge of the duties of Presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed individuals; those employees charged with the protection of life and property; and, as appropriate,  the obligation, payment, and support of student financial aid as well as other authorized payments and obligations.

For a longer shutdown, “at most, a total of not more than 6 percent of the total staff would be called back” to perform “excepted activities to prevent significant damage to the underlying activity.”  In short, 212 employees will be working during the first week and, if the lapse lasts more than 1 week, 242 employees will work at some point during the shutdown [approximately 3,983 employees would be furloughed].

In higher education, loans and Pell grants will continue as normal.   Further, staff and contractors associated with these programs will continue to work, although “only skeletal program operations would continue under the ‘significant damage’ standard.”  While it’s not clear what level of loan servicing is provided for with skeletal program operations, the memo notes “student financial aid services should continue  in order to avoid the potential loss of federal assets and to maintain the delivery of student aid.”

Campus-Based aid programs, however, will not be so lucky.  Indeed, “FSA employees working in areas not directly related to Pell Grants or Direct Student Loans, such as the Campus-Based Programs of College Work-Study and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, customer service activities, administrative functions not related to providing student aid to schools and students, and development of new programs or activities, would not be excepted.”  Thus, if you are awaiting funds from the government out of these programs, you will be out of luck.

In addition, as a general matter, grants awarded by the Department previously (not student aid) should continue as normal for the first week.  “For a lapse of more than a week, Department staff would be needed as excepted employees to monitor the contractors and resolve any issues.”  In addition, grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation will also be affected.  Under contingency plans authored by the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Science Foundation, grantees working on existing grants could continue their work to the extent funds are available and grantees do not require assistance from agency staff.  Neither agency will take any actions on new grant applications or awards.

Education and Workforce Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Vocational Education

Posted in Higher Education News, K-12 News, News from the Hill, Skills Gap

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On Friday, September 20th at 10:00 a.m. in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office building, the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will hold a hearing entitled, “Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs: A Discussion on Career and Technical Education and Training Programs.” The hearing will explore ways the federal government can help support state and local initiatives to improve career and technical education.  The hearing will be webcast live.  The witnesses for the hearing are:

  • Alvin Bargas, President, Pelican Chapter Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc., Baton Rouge, LA
  • Dr. Sheila Harrity, Principal, Worcester Technical High School, Worcester, MA
  • John Fischer, Dep. Commissioner, Transformation & Innovation, VT Agency of Education, Montpelier, VT
  • Frank Britt, Chief Executive Officer, Penn Foster Inc., Scranton, PA

 

Senate HELP Committee to Hold Hearing on the Higher Education Triad

Posted in Accreditor News, Department of Education, Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill, State Authorization

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On Thursday, September 19, 2013, 10:00 AM in room 430 Dirksen Senate Office Building, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will hold a hearing — the first in a series of hearings leading up to Higher Education Act Reauthorization — entitled “The Triad: Promoting a System of Shared Responsibility.” The witnesses include:

  • Dr. Paul E. Lingenfelter, Former President, State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, Boulder, CO (Testimony)
  • Dr. Terry W. Hartle, Senior Vice President, American Council on Education, Washington, DC (Testimony)
  • Dr. Susan D. Phillips, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, University at Albany, SUNY, Albany, NY (Testimony)
  • Dr. Marshall A. Hill, Executive Director, National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, Boulder, CO (Testimony)

Update: Chairman Tom Harkin and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander issues statements today as well (Harkin, Alexander 1, Alexander 2)

Education and Workforce Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Higher Education Affordability

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On Wednesday, September 18th at 10:00 a.m., in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training will hold a hearing entitled, “Keeping College Within Reach: Improving Access and Affordability through Innovative Partnerships.” The hearing will examine ways higher education institutions are taking steps to expand access and reduce costs by partnering with local employers, other colleges, or online course providers. The witnesses for this hearing are:

  • Dr. Jeffrey Docking, President, Adrian College, Adrian, Michigan
  • Ms. Paula R. Singer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Laureate Global Products and Services, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Dr. Rich Baraniuk, Professor, Rice University, Founder, Connexions, Houston, Texas
  • Dr. Charles Lee Isbell, Jr., Professor and Senior Associate Dean, College of Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia

Education and Workforce Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Higher Education Opportunities for Servicemembers and Veterans

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, Military Education, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On Wednesday, September 11th at 12:00 p.m., in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), will hold a hearing entitled, Keeping College Within Reach: Supporting Higher Education Opportunities for America’s Servicemembers and Veterans.” Wednesday’s hearing is expected to explore steps colleges and universities are taking to support American servicemembers and veterans, while also discussing best practices that might be utilized by institutions more broadly.  The witnesses are:

  • Mrs. Kimrey W. Rhinehardt, Vice President for Federal and Military Affairs, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
  • Dr. Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., President, Saint Leo University, Saint Leo, FL
  • Dr. Russell S. Kitchner, Vice President for Regulatory and Governmental Relations, American Public University System, Charles Town, WV
  • Dr. Ken Sauer, Senior Associate Commissioner for Research and Academic Affairs, Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Indianapolis, IN

 

Education & Workforce Committee Seeking Proposals for Higher Education Act Reauthorization

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On April 25, 2013, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce issued a bipartisan letter (signed by the Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), and the leaders of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Ranking Member Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX)) requesting feedback from higher education stakeholders on “policy changes and amendments to strengthen the law [the Higher Education Act].”  Specifically, the Committee is  particularly interested in examining ways to:

  • Empower students as consumers in higher education
  • Simplify and improve the student aid and loan programs
  • Increase college accessibility, affordability, and completion
  • Encourage institutions to reduce costs
  • Promote innovation to improve access to and delivery of higher education and
  • Balance the need for accountability with the burden of federal requirements.

Anyone who wishes to comment should email comments to HEA.Reauth@mail.house.gov by August 2, 2013.  In any submission, commenters are requested to cite the relevant statutory or regulatory language, detail the requested change (with proposed legislative language, if possible) and provide a rationale for the change.  It is my understanding that the comments will NOT be made public.

I have spoken with folks involved in this effort and know it to be an earnest request from the Committee – and one I’ve recommended that clients take seriously.  While hearings will be an important part of educating the Committee in advance of reauthorization, thanks to technology, higher education is moving far too quickly for that process to be useful.  Having folks that are “in the know” providing ideas to Congress will keep them better educated and will be more likely to produce a more informed (and, hopefully, more workable) reauthorization.

HELP Subcommittee Hearing on Financial Literacy on April 24, 2013

Posted in Financial Aid (Loans & Grants), Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On Wednesday April 24, 2013, the Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Children and Families will hold a hearing entitled ”The Economic Importance of Financial Literacy Education For Students.“  The hearing will be held at 2:30 PM in room 430 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  The witness list is after the jump.

Continue Reading

Higher Education Subcommittee Hearing on College Transparency on April 24, 2013

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On April 24, 2013, at 10:00 a.m., in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training will hold a hearing to explore opportunities to enhance higher education transparency.  This hearing is entitled: “Keeping College within Reach: Enhancing Transparency for Students, Families and Taxpayers.”

This hearing comes at the heels of a number of calls for transparency in higher education, including the publication of the adminstration’s College Scorecard and the reintroduction of The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act . You can view the hearing here.  We have the witness list after the jump. Continue Reading

House Education and Workforce Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Federal Aid Programs on April 16, 2013

Posted in Financial Aid (Loans & Grants), Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On April 16, 2013, at 11:00 a.m., in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training will hold a hearing to entitled: “Keeping College Within Reach: The Role of Federal Student Aid Programs.”  This is part of a series of hearing looking at ways to keep college accessible to students. You can view the hearing here. We have the witness list after the jump.

Continue Reading

House Education and Workforce Subcommittee to Hold Field Hearing on the Link Between Education and Employment on April 9, 2013

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill, Skills Gap, Uncategorized

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On April 9, 2013, at 9:00 a.m., at the Monroe County Community College, Administration Building Room #173, located at 1555 S. Raisinville Road in Monroe, Michigan, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training will hold a field hearing to entitled: “Reviving our Economy: The Role of Higher Education in Job Growth and Development.” Media interested in attending the field hearing must RSVP to Sarah Kuziomko at sarah.kuziomko@mail.house.gov.  There will be two panels of witnesses.  We have the witness list after the jump.

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Ed & Workforce Committee to Mark Up the SKILLS Act on March 6

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill, Workforce Investment Act

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On Wednesday, March 6 at 10:00 a.m., the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. John Kline (R-MN), will mark up the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act (H.R. 803). The markup will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  The SKILLS Act reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to create a more effective and accountable workforce development system.  The SKILLS Act was, in part, the subject of a February 26, 2013 hearing entitled “Putting America Back to Work: Reforming the Nation’s Workforce Investment System,” conducted by the Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee, led by Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC).

According to a media advisory, the SKILLS Act attempts to reform the current workforce development system by:

•  Eliminating and streamlining 35 duplicative and ineffective employment and training programs.

•  Replacing the current maze of programs with a flexible Workforce Investment Fund to serve as a single source of support for employers and job seekers.

•  Strengthening the role of employers in workforce training decisions by repealing 19 federal mandates governing workforce investment board representation.

•  Establishing common performance measures for state and local leaders and requiring an independent evaluation of programs at least once every five years to improve accountability.

• Requiring local workforce investment leaders to outline the strategies they will implement to serve at-risk youth, individuals with disabilities, veterans, and other workers with unique barriers to employment.

“Students First Act” Introduced in Senate, Aims at Strengthening Enforcement at Institutions of Higher Education

Posted in Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, News from the Hill, Program Reviews and Audits, Uncategorized

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On February 28, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the “Students First Act” (S. 406), “A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for new program review requirements.”  The bill, which was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), was co-sponsored by that committee’s chairman, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), as well as Senators Richard “Dick” Durbin (D-IL) and John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-WV).

While the text is not currently available, a press release explains that the bill:

enhances the program review process, creating triggers that require the Department to conduct program reviews of institutions most at risk of violating federal law.  It also strengthens existing sanctions against colleges that violate requirements of federal student aid programs knowingly and willfully, and holds executives of those institutions personally accountable.

A “fact sheet” further summarizes the key provisions of the bill.  The key provisions include (1) automatic triggers to result in a program review (if an institution spends more than 20% of revenue on “recruitment and marketing” or receives more than 85% of its revenue from federal student aid sources); are (2) prioritization of program reviews for institutions based on “default rate, proportion of overall federal student aid revenue, increases in enrollment, student complaints, graduation rates, financial health, and profit margins”; (3) strengthens penalties for noncompliance (increases fines and may lower the bar for expulsion from the Title IV Program); (4) imposes personal liability on institution executives for noncompliance with Title IV; (5) and, most interestingly, “uses funds collected from penalties to provide relief to students who attended sanctioned institutions, including tuition reimbursement and loan forgiveness.”

Although all of these proposals have troubling elements (based on the summary), the last requirement is perhaps the most problematic.  It is, of course, important for the Department of Education to be able to impose a penalty for noncompliance beyond mere repayment of amounts owed to the Department.  This serves as an important deterrent.  The problem, however, is that in directing penalties be used for “tuition reimbursement and loan forgiveness,” the bill alters the interests of the Department.

As the bill summary explains, penalties will be assessed for violations of the “program integrity regulations” — which include topics such as the payment of prohibited incentive compensation (serious, yet not very common) to improper application of satisfactory academic progress rules (not uncommon) or failing to return Title IV funds for withdrawn students in a timely manner (fairly common and often clerical mistakes) — as well as “other Title IV violations.”  In sum, absent some text that significantly limits the ability of the Department to impose fines for any noncompliance, there doesn’t appear to be a violation that would not justify a penalty.  Further, with the added incentive of collecting revenue to provide student loan forgiveness for students at the penalized school, it would be surprising if fines were not far more common than they are at present.  Indeed, allowing the Department to provide loan forgiveness with funds obtaining through the imposition of penalties shifts the institutional interests of the Department away from merely guarding against waste of federal dollars by institutions of higher education.

Of course, the bill text may address these issues.  When we get the bill text we will pass it along, as I imagine there will be a number of issues addressed there that the Fact Summary is unable to cover in compete detail.  You can read the fact sheet after the jump.

Continue Reading

House Subcommittee Hearing this Thursday: “Raising the Bar: How Are Schools Measuring Teacher Performance?”

Posted in K-12 News, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

It’s a busy week for the House Education and Workforce Committee members.  On Thursday, February 28, at 9:00 am room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, chaired by Todd Rokita, (R-IN), will hold a hearing entitled “Raising the Bar: How Are Schools Measuring Teacher Performance?“.  This is the second in a series of hearings.  On February 14, the Subcommittee held the first of its hearings in the “Raising the Bar” Series.  Witnesses for this hearing are:

Dr. Steve Cantrell, Chief Research Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent, Knox County Schools, Knoxville, TN

Dr. Rodney Watson, Chief of Human Resources, Houston Independent School District, Houston, TX

Mr. Emanuel Harper, French Teacher, Herron High School, Indianapolis, IN

Updated: Wednesday’s School Safety Moved to 12:30

Posted in K-12 News, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

The time for the House Education and Workforce Committee Hearing “Protecting Students and Teachers: A Discussion on School Safety,” which will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday, February 27, has been moved from 10:00 to 12:30.  The full committee hearing, will focus on how schools can prepare and recover from threats of violence. Members will discuss faculty and student training practices, local school security needs, crisis reaction protocol, and effective post-incident recovery services.

 

Higher Education Subcommittee Hearing Today: “Putting America Back to Work: Reforming the Nation’s Workforce Investment System”

Posted in Higher Education News, News from the Hill, Skills Gap, Workforce Investment Act

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

At 10:00 am today, in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee. led by Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), will hold a hearing entitled “Putting America Back to Work: Reforming the Nation’s Workforce Investment System.”  You can access the hearing video live on the committee’s website.  The hearing come on the heels of the release of a new Republican-backed bill: The Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act.

The witnesses for the hearing are:

Witnesses

Mr. Chris Hart President and CEO Workforce Florida Inc. Tallahassee, FL

Dr. Scott Ralls President North Carolina Community College System Raleigh, NC

Dr. Harry Holzer Professor of Public Policy Georgetown Public Policy Institute Washington, D.C.

Mr. Todd Gustafson Executive Director Michigan Works! Berrien-Cass-Van Buren Benton Harbor, MI

White House and Department of Education Launch the College Scorecard

Posted in Education Data & Statistics, Higher Education News, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
David P. Lewis

As referenced in the post below, today the White House unveiled its College Scorecard.  This interactive dashboard tool allows prospective students to enter the name of a specific school and obtain a snapshot of data points about that school, including:

  • the average net price to attend (and the change in net price from 2007-2009);
  • the graduation rate;
  • the three-year loan default rate; and
  • the median amount borrowed for undergraduate study and monthly payment required to pay that amount off in ten years.

There is a place as well for reporting average earnings of former undergraduate students at a school who borrowed Federal student loans, but that information is currently unavailable (the site notes that the U.S. Department of Education is still working to provide that data).

For prospective students without a specific school in mind, the College Scorecard allows them to search for target colleges based on criteria that include area of interest (degree & major, occupation and awards offered) and type of college (location, online v. ground, campus setting, and size), and then access the same data (net price, graduation rate, etc.) for the colleges identified through the search engine.

From playing around with the tool for a few minutes, I’d say that, at best, it offers a few interesting data points although it is very superficial and not really meaningful on an individual basis (the average net price and average loan tell a student nothing about what his or her actual net price and loan amounts would be).  It certainly won’t substitute for any of the other typical resources available to students and their parents to diligence schools and programs (such as the individualized net price calculators now required on each school’s website and to which the College Scorecard links).  Of more interest will be the student outcomes data when that becomes available.

A nice review of the College Scorecard from the New America Foundation’s Higher Ed Watch blog is available here.

 

House Subcommittee Hearing: “Raising the Bar: How Education Innovation Can Improve Student Achievement”

Posted in Department of Education, K-12 News, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On February 14, the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, chaired by Todd Rokita, (R-IN), will hold a hearing entitled “Raising the Bar: How Education Innovation Can Improve Student Achievement.” The hearing will take place in room 2261 of the Rayburn House Office Building at 10:00 a.m. Witnesses will include:

Mr. Jim Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

Mr. John Bailey, Executive Director Digital Learning Now, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Preston Smith, CEO & President, Rocketship Education, Redwood City, CA

Ms. Holly Sagues, Chief Policy Officer, Florida Virtual School Orlando, FL

Gauging the ROI of a College Degree

Posted in Department of Education, Higher Education News, Higher Education Policy, Law Schools, News from the Hill, Uncategorized

CONTRIBUTED BY
David P. Lewis

An article in The Wall Street Journal today (subscription required) reports that Senators Ron Wyden (D. Ore.) and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) are expected to introduce legislation later this week that would require each state to make available information on the average salaries of college graduates who attended institutions in that state.  The information would be provided by institution and major, with the goal of enabling prospective students to “compare salaries by college and major to assess the best return on their investment.”

This is a welcome development that parallels the pressure on law schools for greater transparency regarding the employment outcomes of their students (as we have written about previously – see herehere, here, and here).  As the father of a child going through the college process now, I am very focused, among other things, on what graduates of particular programs in particular target schools do after they graduate, and can attest to the statement in the article that prospective students are “awash with information about costs” but have almost no way “to tell what graduates at specific schools earn – or how many found jobs in their chosen field.”  While the actual bill has not yet been introduced (we will provide the text when available), I note a few key takeaways from the article:

  • The reporting burden is placed on the states.  While there is certainly a “gainful employment” genesis to this bill, the focus seems to be on requiring states to provide the information from wage data submitted by employers and graduate data submitted by colleges, tied together by Social Security numbers.  Thus, the reporting burden on already taxed schools would be modest.
  • The data would be gathered with respect to all colleges, without regard to whether they are for-profit or non-profit.  This is something the proprietary sector has been seeking – a chance to be compared to their traditional school competitors on an apples-to-apples, student outcomes basis.  And the results could be interesting.  As the article notes about Virginia, a state that has already started to provide this type of information:

Among graduates who live in Virginia, the highest starting wages for a bachelor’s degree were $56,400 for graduates of Jefferson College of Health Sciences, a Roanoke school that largely turns out nursing graduates.

That was 42% higher than the University of Virginia’s average of $39,648.  Overall, students with associate’s degrees in technical fields, such as health care, earned more than recipients of bachelor’s degrees.  A spokesman for the University of Virginia declined to comment.

  • There is bipartisan support.  According to Sen. Wyden, support for a bill like this is “unusally broad,” and includes the support of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.), who intends to support a companion bill in the House.
  • Outcomes will be a focus in the next few years.  According to a Department of Education spokeswoman, “[p]roviding more information about outcomes will be a priority during President Barack Obama’s second term,” including completing development on a “College Scorecard” that would provide salary information and average debt load information to to existing data on costs, graduates rates and loan repayment rates.

We will report back once the bill language is released.

 

 

Key Education Staff Changes in HELP Committee

Posted in Higher Education News, K-12 News, News from the Hill

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On February 1, 2013, Senator Lamar Alexander, the new Ranking Member for the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) announced a number of staff changes.  Of most relevance to those in education, Senator Alexander’s current legislative director, David P. Cleary, will serve as Republican staff director and Peter Oppenheim will serve as education policy director.

David P. Cleary will be the Republican staff director at the HELP committee, and will continue to serve as Senator Alexander’s Legislative Director, an assignment he has held since 2011.  From 2006 to 2011, Cleary was Alexander’s staff director for the HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families. He previously served as a staff member on the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce under then-Chairman John Boehner (R-Ohio), and as a legislative analyst for the U.S. Department of Education. Cleary earned a B.A. in Political Science and Master of Public Administration from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Peter Oppenheim will be the education policy director and counsel for the committee. He comes to this position after serving the past two years as Senator Alexander’s Legislative Counsel, advising the Senator on all education, labor, and pensions-related issues. Before joining Senator Alexander’s staff, Peter was a Managing Associate in the education practice at Carmen Group, a government relations firm in Washington, DC, from 2007 – 2011, representing institutions of higher education, school districts, and nonprofit organizations. Peter also served as a research assistant for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) from 2004 to 2006. Peter holds a J.D. from the American University Washington College of Law and a B.A. from Colby College, in Waterville, ME.

Other staff announcements include:

  • Lindsey Ward Seidman will serve as senior policy advisor.
  • Michael Merrell will serve as chief counsel.
  • Mary Sumpter Lapinski will be health policy director for the committee.
  • Jim Jeffries will continue to serve as communications director.
  • Liz Wolgemuth will serve as Republican press secretary for the HELP committee.
  • Brian Reisinger will serve as press secretary in Sen. Alexander’s office.
  • Allison Martin will serve as deputy legislative director Sen. Alexander’s office.

In addition, I would be remiss if I did not commend Senior Policy Director Dr. Beth Buehleman and Education Counsel Chris Eyler for their efforts on behalf of the committee during Senator Enzi’s tenure as Ranking Member.  I have seldom found people I enjoyed talking with more.  They both passionately care about education and I look forward to engaging with them in the future.

Secretary Duncan to Testify at Senate HELP Committee Hearing on February 7, 2013: “No Child Left Behind: Early Lessons from State Flexibility Waivers”

Posted in Department of Education, K-12 News, News from the Hill, No Child Left Behind/ESEA Reauthoritzation

CONTRIBUTED BY
Dennis Cariello

On February 7, 2013, in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building, the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) will hold a hearing entitled: “No Child Left Behind: Early Lessons from State Flexibility Waivers.”   For those that are unaware, in sum, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 imposed strict accountability measures for states to ensure that students are demonstrating proficiency in math and reading by 2014.  As we approached 2014, however, it was clear that many states would not make the grade.  In 2011, the Department of Education announced a process that would allow states to obtain a waiver from the accountability goals if, in exchange, the state would comply with other mandates.  While this waiver program has arguably been made necessary due to the inability of Congress to address the issues in an reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it has been a controversial move.

There will be two panels to discuss the issues.  The first will include Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education who has enacted the policy under discussion.   The Second Panel will feature:

  • Terry K. Holliday, Ph.D., Kentucky Commissioner of Education, Lexington, Kentucky
  • John B. King, Jr., Ed.D., New York Commissioner of Education, Slingerlands, New York
  • Andrew R. Smarick, M.P.M., Partner, Bellwether Education Partners, Lawrenceville, New Jersey
  • Kati Haycock, M.A., President, The Education Trust, Washington, District of Columbia