Legislative Update: March 29, 2006, H.R. 609

HR 609 Update

The House of Representatives Education Committee made final preparations for the floor debate of HR 609 last night and this morning.

The House Rules Committee reviewed 120 amendments submitted for consideration for the floor activity Wednesday and Thursday. The Rules Committee approved only 15 of those amendments for floor consideration. Of those, McKeon's Manager's amendment has a significant change for the bill—it altered the college cost reporting section and removed the provision allowing campuses to be audited if their costs increased for three consecutive years. His amendment also changed the campus base formula for student aid that drew a great deal of concern because of the number of students who would loose eligibility. Rep. Andrews had proposed the same amendments to the Rules Committee that he took to the committee mark up last fall, most related to FERPA information and meningitis reporting, none were accepted to be considered on the floor today.

There are two amendments I would like to bring to your attention that are new items that could impact our work one of which is related to fire safety and the other is parent and pregnant student offices.

1) Rep. Fossella of N.Y. – Directs the Department of Education to make a matching grant program to eligible universities for the professional installation of fire alarm detection systems and other fire prevention technologies. Applies to student housing, dormitories and other buildings controlled by such entities. There is concern however, that the funds for this will not be appropriated and could be voted down because of it. However, it was significant that this was pulled in light of our concern and opposition to the amendment passed through committee on requiring the reporting of fire safety alarms.

2) Rep. Melissa Hart (Pa.) – Establishes and operates pregnant and parenting student services offices to assist students in locating and utilizing child care, family housing, flexible academic scheduling such as telecommuting programs and parenting classes and programs, and post-partum counseling and support groups.

Please find attached a list of what Chairman McKeon's amendment will do to the bill and the list of amendments to be considered to the bill today. Most of the amendments will be allowed 10 minutes debate.

The final passage of the bill is not expected until Thursday.


H.R. 609
SUMMARY OF AMENDMENTS MADE IN ORDER

1.McKeon (Calif.): Makes many technical changes that will reword certain phrases or make changes to ensure that our bill conforms to language currently included in the Higher Education Act. In addition, the Manager’s Amendment updates all the reauthorization years to begin in fiscal year 2007 (and authorizes for the five succeeding years). Additional policy changes are:

In Title I:
a. Modifies the College Cost provisions to streamline and reduce unnecessary reporting requirements. (Takes out the audit requirements for IHEs who increase for three consecutive years).

In Title III:
a. Adds three postsecondary institutions to the list of named institutions authorized to participate in Historically Black Graduate Institutions programs.
b. Provide for a minimum grant of $500,000 for Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities.

In Title IV:
a. Retains current law for the Campus-Based Aid formula and adds a GAO study of the current allocation formula.
b. Retains current law for the TRIO programs formula, adds a GAO study of the current allocation formula, and modifies the TRIO accountability provisions.
c. Provides for coordination of issues important to foster care youth within the TRIO and GEAR UP programs.
d. Clarifies the obligations of accrediting agencies when making accreditation determinations.
e. Includes a study of distance education programs and practices.
f. Enhances coordination within programs to better serve foster care students.
g. Clarifies the states as accreditors provisions to ensure that institutions continue to choose who they want to be accredited by and that a state cannot require an institution to be accredited by that state.
h. Requires student loan lenders to work with institutions of higher education and any student loan servicers contracting with that institution to prevent student loan borrowers from defaulting.
i. Allows the secretary to reserve funds within the High School Equivalency Program/College Assistance Migrant Program for technical assistance activities.
j. Clarifies treatments of the U.S. territories for purposes of eligibility for student financial aid. Provides assistance for high achieving, low income students in programs that ease the transition from high school to college.
k. Clarifies that the definition of rigorous curriculum is determined by the state public school officials or school officials for each non-public school, including home schools.

In Title VI:
a. Allows Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education activities to support antipiracy efforts on college campuses.

Title IX:
a. Part A – Education of the Deaf Act. Makes technical edits.
b. Part B – Additional Education Laws. Strikes repeal of a study on female participation in intercollegiate athletics.
c. Conforms authorization of the Campus Violence Grants by deleting the Higher Education Act authority as these programs are now authorized under VAWA.

2. Blumenauer (Ore.)/Wu (Ore.)/Ehlers (Mich.): Directs the Secretary of Education, representatives of federal agencies, businesses, and industry leaders to focus on establishing administrative and educational sustainability programs, share innovative ideas, and explore funding opportunities and partnerships.

3. Burton (Ind.): Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require colleges and universities, if receiving funds under Title VI International Education Programs of that act, to disclose contributions and gifts under the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a publicly available and searchable database.

4. Boustany (La.)/Andrews (N.J.): Requires a study by GAO to evaluate and determine reasons for the decline in the number of medical school graduates entering residency programs lasting more than five years.

5. Boustany (La.)/Andrews (N.J.): Amends Sec. 421 – Loan Forgiveness for Service in Areas of National Need to include medical specialists with a residency program of more than five years and in medical specialties that have shortages.

6. Castle (Del.)/Osborne (Neb.)/Ford (Tenn.)/Regula (Ohio)/Van Hollen (Md.): Authorizes funding to recruit, select, train, and support a national corps of outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors who commit to teach in low-income communities. An example of a national teacher corps eligible for this funding is Teach For America.

7. Cuellar (Texas): Ensures that student financial aid programs are in compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1965.

8. Cuellar (Texas): Ensures that students in certification programs are eligible to receive Pell grants.

9. Fossella (N.Y.): Directs the Department of Education to make a matching grant program to eligible universities for the professional installation of fire alarm detection systems and other fire prevention technologies. Applies to student housing, dormitories, and other buildings controlled by such entities.

10. Hart (Pa.): Establishes and operates pregnant and parenting student services offices to assist students in locating and utilizing child care, family housing, flexible academic scheduling such as telecommuting programs and parenting classes and programs, and post-partum counseling and support groups.

11. Musgrave (Colo.): Includes all home school children as eligible applicants for the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program.

12. Porter (Nev.)/Renzi (Ariz.)/Andrews (N.J.): Expands loan relief in areas of national need to include qualified public service employees.

13. Sessions (Texas): Allows students with intellectual disabilities (mental retardation) access to federal work-study funds for enrollment in comprehensive post-secondary education programs that improve students’ academic and personal skills, independence, and employability. Currently, approximately 94 higher education institutions nationwide offer programs for students with intellectual disabilities. However, these students are not able to access federal work-study funds due to disqualifying factors such as the absence of a high school diploma or enrollment in non-degree education programs. Federal work-study funds to these students would be dispersed from current work-study resources and implemented at the discretion of higher education institutions. Additionally, this amendment would not create a new federal program and therefore requires no cost to the federal government.

14. Wilson (N.M.): Provides authority for Mathematics and Science Education Coordinating Councils to support regional workshops designed to permit educators, administrators responsible for professional development and curriculum development, and faculty of teacher preparation programs to share successful research based strategies for improving student achievement in mathematics and science instruction in elementary and secondary schools.

15. McMorris (Wash.)/Holt (N.J.)/Dreier (Calif.): Adds uses of funds to Title II (Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants) to increase the number of teachers qualified to teach Advanced Placement (AP) courses; Adds uses of funds to the current law Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program to authorize adjunct teacher opportunities and critical foreign language activities.