Bills upcoming for a vote in the legislature.
Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act
This bill amends title IV (Student Assistance) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to modify loan counseling requirements for an institution of higher education (IHE) that participates in federal student aid programs.
Currently, an IHE must provide entrance counseling to a student who is a first-time federal student loan borrower. This bill replaces required entrance counseling with required annual counseling. Also, it expands the required recipients of such annual counseling to include, in addition to student borrowers, Federal Pell Grant recipients and parent PLUS Loan borrowers.
Each annual counseling recipient must receive comprehensive information on the terms, conditions, and responsibilities with respect to a grant or loan and general information on a typical student budget, the right to request an annual credit report, average income and employment data, and financial management resources. Additionally, the bill revises, expands, or establishes specific annual counseling information requirements for student borrowers, Pell Grant recipients, or parent PLUS Loan borrowers.
The bill revises and expands exit counseling information requirements to include an outstanding loan balance summary, the anticipated monthly payments under standard and income-based repayment plans, an explanation of the grace period preceding repayment, the option to pay accrued interest before it capitalizes, the right to request an annual credit report, and loan servicer contact information.
It directs the Department of Education to maintain a consumer-tested online counseling tool that provides annual and exit counseling.
The Institute of Education Sciences must study the impact and effectiveness of exit counseling, annual counseling, and the online counseling tool.
National Memorial to Fallen Educators Act
(Sec. 2) This bill designates as the "National Memorial to Fallen Educators" an existing memorial located at the National Teachers Hall of Fame in Emporia, Kansas. The memorial is not a unit of the National Park System, and its designation shall not require or allow federal funds to be expended for any purpose related to it.
Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship Act
This bill amends title IV (Student Assistance) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to eliminate the expected family contribution (EFC) used to determine financial need in the case of a Pell Grant-eligible student whose parent or guardian died in the line of duty as a police officer, firefighter, or other public safety officer. Such student is eligible to receive an automatic zero EFC and qualify for the maximum Pell Grant award if the student was less than 24 years old or enrolled at an institution of higher education at the time of the parent or guardian's death.
(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The summary has been expanded because action occurred on the measure.)
Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Reauthorization Act or the SOAR Reauthorization Act
(Sec. 2) This bill repeals the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program School Certification Requirements Act, as contained in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016.
(Sec. 3) The Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR) is amended to limit its focus to students in the lowest-performing Washington, DC, elementary and secondary schools.
(Sec. 4) The Department of Education (ED) shall not limit the number of eligible students receiving Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) scholarships, or prevent otherwise eligible students from participating in the OSP because of:
(Sec. 5) An eligible nonprofit organization's application for an OSP grant must include how it will ensure:
(Sec. 6) Priorities for the award of scholarships are modified to give priority to:
(Sec. 7) OSP-participating schools must:
Participating private schools must be provisionally or fully accredited or in the process of seeking accreditation.
ED must make OSP funds available to eligible entities receiving a grant for administrative expenses and parental education and assistance.
(Sec. 8) The bill revises current OSP evaluation procedures.
ED shall ensure that evaluation of the OSP is conducted using an acceptable quasi-experimental research design for determining the effectiveness of the opportunity scholarship program under this division that does not use a control study group consisting of students who applied for but did not receive opportunity scholarships.
The bill revises the duties of the ED Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) to repeal the requirement for a grade appropriate, nationally norm-referenced standardized test each school year to assess participating eligible students. IES shall instead assess participating eligible students who use an opportunity scholarship in each of grades 3 through 8, as well as one of the high school level grades, by supervising the administration of a specified reading and mathematics assessment used by the DC public schools.
The issues to be assessed shall exclude OSP success in increasing parental involvement of such parents in the education of their children, but include:
The prohibition against any disclosure of personally identifiable information shall be replaced with specified requirements for such a disclosure.
(Sec. 9) The specified authorized OSP funds that ED may withhold for noncompliance with SOAR requirements shall be differentiated based on whether the noncompliance relates to the DC public schools, to the DC public charter schools, or to both.
Funds provided under this bill to support DC public charter schools may be directed to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education for transfer to subgrantee public charter schools or networks of such schools, or DC-based non-profit organizations with successful experience with them.
(Sec. 10) ED and the Mayor shall revise a specified memorandum of understanding to ensure that participating schools meet fire code standards and maintain certificates of occupancy.
(Sec. 12) The bill reauthorizes the OSP through FY2022.
(Sec. 13) This bill shall apply beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.