Chairwoman Foxx and Ranking Member Cassidy Urge GAO to Investigate FAFSA System Failures

On February 7, 2024, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) urged the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate reported issues with the information technology system used by the Department of Education in its botched rollout of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The press release said that based on reports, “the FAFSA IT system was available sporadically for only three hours from December 30, 2023 to January 2, 2024, and was not accessible for use until January 6, 2024.  Additionally, applicants reported multiple issues with the FAFSA website, including repeated loading screens, “Please Wait” pages, and errors with submitting the FAFSA form.

The press release said:  “Based on the initial poor performance, we have significant questions about the extent to which the FAFSA Processing System underwent all needed testing, what system issues were uncovered in testing, and the decision-making process to roll out the system with known issues…Accordingly, we request that GAO review the recent launch of the FAFSA Processing System.”

A copy of the press release from the House Education and the Workforce Committee is found at:


A copy of the press release from the Senate HELP News GOP is found at:


Senate Republicans Launch Website for Reporting FAFSA Issues

On February 2, 2024, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) and a group of Senate Republicans launched a website for students, guidance counselors, college admissions staff, financial aid administrators, and others to report issues they are experiencing with the 2024-2025 FAFSA form.  This resource comes as a result of ED’s continued delays in the FAFSA rollout.

The website is found at:  https://www.help.senate.gov/FAFSA.

A copy of the press release following Dr. Cassidy’s press conference is found at:


House Education Committee Passes the College Cost Reduction Act

On January 31, 2024, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce reported H.R. 6951, the College Cost Reduction Act, out of Committee sending it to the floor for further consideration.  The only amendment to the original bill which passed during the markup by a vote along party line of 22 to 19, was “An Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute” offered by Postsecondary Chairman Burgess Owens (R-UT).

Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said in her opening statement:  “The College Cost Reduction Act will provide much needed relief for countless students and families who have been continually charged exorbitant tuition for degrees without worthwhile economic benefits.  It’s the first bill in many years that implements substantive reforms to postsecondary education in the form of increased transparency, accountability, and most importantly, affordability.”  The bill:

  • Requires institutions of higher education to use clear, accessible, and consumer-friendly standardized financial aid offers to make students and families aware of loan and grant aid available to them to enroll in postsecondary education.
  • Caps the total amount of federal student aid that a student can receive annually at the “median cost of college,” defined as the median cost of attendance for students enrolled in similar degree programs nationally and calculated using data from the previous award year.
  • Restructures campus-based programs into performance-based PROMISE Grants with funds to go to institutions committed to lowering tuition, aligning degree programs with labor market needs, and enrolling and graduating low-income students.
  • Institutes a new Pell Plus program, which provides additional grant aid to students enrolling in high-return programs during their junior and senior years as long as they are on-track to complete their program on-time.
  • Restructures the federal student loan program by allowing loan limits to vary by program and providing financial aid administrators with additional flexibility to lower loan limits for certain categories of borrowers and their earnings and based on the repayment outcomes of graduates.
  • Streamlines federal student loan repayment to a standard 10-year repayment and an income-driven repayment plan.
  • Allows defaulted borrowers to rehabilitate their loans more than once to get borrowers back into the habit of repayment loans.
  • Eliminates origination fees on new student loans.
  • Repeals Grad PLUS and Parent PLUS Loan programs.
  • Institutes a new risk-sharing program where schools would be required to compensate the federal government annually for a portion of the unpaid interest and principal on loans associated with their former students based on the value-added earnings of students after they graduate.
  • Repeals current regulations on 90/10, gainful employment, change in ownership, financial responsibility, incentive compensation, and borrower defense to repayment. It prohibits the Secretary of Education from regulating the definition of a third-party servicer.
  • Clarifies the federal preemption of state laws that conflict with federal requirements for, and the operations of, federal student loan servicers.
  • Includes several reforms to accreditation, including allowing states to designate an entity to serve as an accreditor.
  • Authorizes a new version of the Postsecondary Student Success Grants Program aimed at helping ensure high-need students complete their postsecondary education through evidence-based practices.

A copy of the press release is found at:


In his opening statement, Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) said that the Higher Education Act meant that “a high school senior anywhere in this great land of ours can apply to any college or any university in any of the 50 States and not be turned away because the family is poor.”  He said that the College Cost Reduction Act misses the mark and would increase costs across the board for colleges and students, limit students’ access to quality programs, fuel divisive cultural wars, and jeopardize the integrity of Congress’ accrediting partners.

The Education and the Workforce Democrats released a press release that said the Education and the Workforce Committee Republicans advanced legislation – H.R. 6951, College Cost Reduction Act – “that would wreak havoc on our higher education system and inflict pain on students struggling to afford a college degree.”  According to the press release, H.R. 6951 would raise the cost of going to college by restricting access to federal student aid and affordable repayment plans.

A copy of the press release is fund at: https://democrats-edworkforce.house.gov/media/press-releases/while-you-were-sleeping-extreme-republicans-voted-to-raise-college-costs-return-to-devos-era-deregulation-and-chaos.

House Education and the Workforce Committee Democrats Release Roadmap for College Student Success

On January 30, 2024, House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) released the Roadmap to College Success, which is a compilation of bills introduced by Democrats that each aim to help students access a quality degree and provide students with the support they need to graduate.  The bills focus on college affordability, college access, and student support:

  • R. 1731, Lowering Obstacles to Achievement Now (LOAN) Act: The bill would lower the cost of college for current and future borrowers and their families by making reforms to the student loan system, including doubling the Pell Grant, improving the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and making loans more affordable and accessible.
  • R. 5998, America’s College Promise Act: The bill would expand access to high-quality public higher education by creating a federal-state partnership that would provide students with two years of tuition-free community college or two years of tuition-free attendance at HBCUs, MSIs, and TCUs.
  • R. 961, Pell to Grad Act: The bill would increase the lifetime Pell Grant eligibility from 12 semesters to 16 semesters and expanding Pell Grant eligibility to graduate students.
  • R. 2957, College Transparency Act: The bill would provide students and families with better information as they consider their higher education options.
  • R. 2401, Respond, Innovate, Succeed, and Empower (RISE) Act: The bill would make the transition from high school to college easier for students with disabilities and their families.
  • R. 309, Opportunity to Address College Hunger Act: The bill would support college students experiencing hunger by requiring institutions of higher education to inform students in the Federal Work Study (FWS) program that they may qualify for SNAP benefits.

A copy of the Roadmap to College Success is found at:


A copy of the press release is found at: https://democrats-edworkforce.house.gov/media/press-releases/committee-democrats-launch-roadmap-to-college-student-success.

Foxx and Owens Blast ED for FAFSA Botched Rollout

On January 30, 2024, the House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee Chairman Burgess Owens (R-UT) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona demanding answers to the botched rollout of the 2024-2025 FAFSA.

Chairwoman Foxx and Chairman Owens said in the letter:  “The bipartisan FAFSA Simplification Act, which eliminates unnecessary questions and streamlines the process for completing the application was enacted in December 2021, and was to take effect on July 1, 2023…The Department should have focused on expeditiously doing the work necessary for a successful and timely launch for the simplified FAFSA to be ready for students, families, and institutions of higher education (IHEs).  Unfortunately, for the over 17.5 million estimated students who are expected to complete the FAFSA in 2024, the Department’s ‘soft launch’ of the simplified FAFSA on December 30, 2023, was fraught with issues.”

A copy of the press release, which includes the letter, is found at:


Cassidy Sounds Alarm over Announcement of Delay in Transmitting ISIRs

On January 30, 2024, Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA) issued a press release expressing concern over the Biden Administration’s announcement that it will delay the transmission of the FAFSA information to colleges and universities until mid-March.  The transmission of FAFSA information was supposed to begin by late January.

A copy of the press release is found at:


Scott Supports ED’s Decision to Adjust FAFSA Income Protection Allowance to Ensure Students Get Full Amount of Aid

On January 24, 2024, House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) released a statement of support for the Department of Education’s decision to adjust the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Income Protection Allowance for the 2024-2025 award year to accurately account for inflation.

He stated:  “This is great news for students and families.  The FAFSA Income Protection Allowance is a critical tool to help students determine how much aid for which they are eligible.  I am pleased that the Department will reverse course and accurately adjust the Income Protection Allowance for inflation.”

A copy of the press release is found at:


Chairwoman Foxx, Ranking Member Cassidy, and 26 Members Request a GAO Investigation into Botched FAFSA Rollout

On January 24, 2024, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), and 26 lawmakers requested a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation into the Biden administration’s failure to properly rollout the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program, delaying students’ and families’ access to financial aid to attend the college of their choice.

The request pointed out that the Department of Education was required by the FAFSA Simplification Act, passed in 2020, to roll out the FAFSA program by January 1, 2024.  ED only made the application available for applicants for 30 minutes on December 30, 2023, before taking it down, and then making it available for an additional hour on December 31, 2023.  It became fully live on January 6, 2024, days after the deadline.

The letter to the GAO is seeking information as to how the Department is addressing the issues leading to the failed FAFSA rollout.

A copy of the press release, including the letter to the GAO, is found at:


Biden Signs a Third Short-Term Spending Extension to Avert a Government Shutdown

On January 19, 2024, President Joe Biden signed into law H.R. 2872, the Further Additional Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, 2024, which provides fiscal year 2024 appropriations to Federal agencies for continuing projects and activities funded in four of the 12 annual appropriations bills through March 1, 2024.  For the remaining eight annual appropriations bills, the Continuing Resolution provides funding through March 8, 2024.  The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 77-18, while the House passed the bill by a vote of 314-108.  This is now the third Continuing Resolution.

Foxx and Smucker Send Letter to Cardona Blasting ED’s Failure on its Annual Audit

On January 18, 2024, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Congressman Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona blasting the Department of Education’s incompetence after it failed its annual audit for the second consecutive year.  The letter said:  “We are deeply disturbed by this administration’s bungling, general ineptness, and deliberate wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.  The American people deserve better.”

A copy of the press release, including the text of the letter, is found at:


Foxx and Arrington Demand Transparency on the Cost of Biden’s Newest Student Loan Bailout Scheme

On January 16, 2024, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and House Budget Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona requesting answers and documents related to the Biden Administration’s latest student loan bailout.  The letter expressed their concerns regarding the potential costs of the latest student loan bailout.

The letter stated:  “The Congressional Budget Office estimated the President’s loan cancellation policy alone would have cost taxpayers over $330 billion.  Further, his six unwarranted extensions of the repayment pause have increased the deficit by $165 billion.  Coupled with illegal waivers, expansive regulations, and as much as $558 billion in new spending as a result of the administration’s radical SAVE repayment plan, this administration has attempted to spend an unprecedented $1 trillion on loan ‘forgiveness’ during its first three years in office – all without congressional approval.  ED’s latest student loan bailout attempt will, like its prior actions, result in significant costs to working-class Americans.”

Both Chairman Foxx and Congresswoman Arrington expressed their concerns about the fiscal and economic impact of the Department’s current negotiated rulemaking, “especially after ED refused to allow even a single individual representing the interests of taxpayers sit on the rulemaking panel.”  The letter made two requests of ED.  First, the congresswomen questioned whether the Department has produced cost estimates for each proposal and second, they asked if these estimates will be made public.

A copy of the press release, which includes the text of the letter, is found at:


Ranking Member Cassidy Blasts Administration’s Rollout of FAFSA

On January 12, 2024, Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee Bill Cassidy (R-LA) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona expressing his concerns about the Department’s failed rollout of the FAFSA, which delayed students’ access to financial aid services to attend the colleges of their choice.  The FAFSA was to be rolled out on December 30, 2023, but was only accessible for sporadic periods until it became fully live on Saturday, January 6th, days after the deadline set by Congress.  Since the FAFSA is normally available for students on October 1st, these delays mean students will be forced to make financial aid decisions with less time and less information than in the past.

Senator Cassidy said:  “The Department of Education (ED) has had over three years to prepare and yet students are still not able to use their completed applications to secure federal, state, and campus-based financial aid.  The purpose of the FAFSA Simplification Act was to make financial aid more accessible for all students by simplifying the application process.  Instead, the current rollout has made navigating the financial aid system far more difficult for students with greater uncertainty.”

Dr. Cassidy admonished the Biden administration for prioritizing resources to carry out its student loan schemes, while failing in its role to properly implement legislation and perform other duties as mandated by Congress.

A copy of the press release, which includes the text of the letter, is found at:


House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Scott Sends Letter to Cardona Expressing Concerns about the Department’s FAFSA Implementation

On January 11, 2024, House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona expressing concerns about the implementation of the simplified FAFSA for the 2024-2025 award year.  Ranking Member Scott expressed worries about ongoing processing delays within the Department of Education that prevents timely communication between institutions of higher education and students with respect to financial aid packages.  He said that the delays will force students to make life-changing decisions on very tight timelines. Ranking Member Scott requested information on the Department’s plans to address these delays and support students and families.

A copy of the press release, which includes the text of the letter, is found at:  https://democrats-edworkforce.house.gov/media/press-releases/ranking-member-scott-urges-ed-to-prevent-further-delays-in-fafsa-processing.

ED Releases FAFSA College Support Strategy

On February 5, 2024, the Department of Education released a FAFSA College Support Strategy to provide additional personnel, funding, resources, and technology to help schools and students complete the better FAFSA form and to help colleges prepare to process student records as quickly and accurately as possible.  The Department’s FAFSA College Support Strategy includes:

  • Deploying federal personnel and expertise to help colleges prepare and process financial aid forms;
  • Directing funding for technical assistance and support for under resourced colleges; and
  • Releasing tools to help colleges prepare to quickly process student records and deliver financial aid packages.

A copy of the press release is found at:  https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-deploys-federal-personnel-funding-and-resources-support-colleges-students-and-families-better-fafsa%C2%AE.

ED Announces Additional Neg Reg Session on Issue of Providing Relief for Borrowers Experiencing Hardship

On January 31, 2024, the Department of Education announced that it will hold an additional negotiated rulemaking session on February 22 and 23, 2024 focused on the issue of providing relief for borrowers experiencing hardship.  According to the press release, “[t]his session is a continuation of the critical work that started last summer when the Administration announced it would be pursuing a new regulatory process to deliver student debt relief to as many borrowers as possible.”  To date, the Biden-Harris Administration has approved over $136.6 billion in relief for more than 3.7 million borrowers through various actions.

According to Under Secretary James Kvaal:  “The Biden-Harris Administration will never stop working to deliver student debt relief for borrowers.”

The Department is separately working on draft rules covering the other issues discussed at the third session for publication later this year.  This includes relief for borrowers whose balances exceed what they originally borrowed, who first entered repayment long ago, who are eligible for relief but have not applied for it, or who attended programs or institutions that failed to provide financial value.

A copy of the press release is found at:


A copy of the February 2, 2024 Electronic Announcement, which includes the Federal Register Notice, is found at:  https://fsapartners.ed.gov/knowledge-center/library/federal-registers/2024-02-02/negotiated-rulemaking-committee-announcement-fourth-session-committee-meetings-title-iv-federal-student-aid-programs-student-debt-relief.

FSA Announces the Maximum Pell Grant for 2024-2025 Award Year

On January 31, 2024, Federal Student Aid (FSA) issued a Dear Colleague Letter (GEN-24-01) announcing the 2024-2025 award year Pell Grant Program maximum and minimum award amounts.  The minimum Pell Grant award is $740, and the maximum Pell Grant award is $7,395 for the 2024-2025 award year.

A copy of the Dear Colleague letter is found at:


FSA Delays Release of ISIRs for the 2024-2025 Award Year

On January 30, 2024, Federal Student Aid (FSA) released an Electronic Announcement (GEN-24-06) announcing the 2024-2025 FAFSA Student Aid Index update and timeline.  FSA said that it is updating the supporting tables used in the Student Aid Index (SAI) calculation to account for inflationary adjustments, as required by law.  The tables reflect the allowances against income and assets reported by students and families on their FAFSA form.  Based on its estimates for completing that work, the Department will begin transmitting batch ISIRs to schools and state agencies in the first half of March.

The Electronic Announcement provided the 2024-2025 FAFSA processing timeline changes.  These include changes to the post-processing experience for students, the post-processing experience for institutions, state higher education agencies, and designated scholarship organizations, and resources for institutions, state higher education agencies, and other external partners.

A copy the Electronic Announcement is found at:


FSA Issues Waivers and Modifications Under the HEROES Act

On January 25, 2024, Federal Student Aid (FSA) issued an Electronic Announcement that updates several long-standing waivers and modifications of statutory and regulatory requirements governing the federal student loan programs under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003 (HEROES Act).  The waivers and modifications are effective January 24, 2024, and expire in five years on January 24, 2029.  The Secretary is waiving or modifying Title IV requirements for all servicemembers who are called for active duty.

A copy of the Electronic Announcement is found at: https://fsapartners.ed.gov/knowledge-center/library/federal-registers/2024-01-25/updated-waivers-and-modifications-student-aid-programs-student-assistance-general-provisions-federal-perkins-loan-program-federal-family-education-loan-program-and-federal-direct-loan-program.

ED Announces $4.9 Billion in Additional Federal Student Loan Relief

On January 19, 2024, the Department of Education announced the approval of $4.9 billion in additional federal student loan debt relief for 73,600 borrowers.  About 29,700 borrowers with $1.7 billion in outstanding federal debt will receive forgiveness because of the income-driven repayment plan payment count adjustments, and 43,000 borrowers with $3.2 billion in loans will receive forgiveness because of the limited waiver under Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said:  “The Biden-Harris Administration has worked relentlessly to fix our country’s broken student loan system and address the needless hurdles and administrative inaccuracies that, in the past, kept borrowers from getting the student loan debt forgiveness they deserved.  The nearly $5 billion in additional debt relief announced today will go to teachers, social workers, and other public servants whose service to our communities have earned them Public Service Loan Forgiveness, as well as borrowers qualifying for income-driven repayment forgiveness because their payments are for the first time being accounted for.”

A copy of the press release is found at:  https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/biden-harris-administration-announces-additional-49-billion-approved-student-debt-relief.

ED Shortens Path to Debt Cancellation for Some SAVE Borrowers

On January 11, 2024, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that next month, it will start providing forgiveness after as few as 10 years of payments for borrowers on the Saving on A Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan who originally took out $12,000 or less for college.  Borrowers enrolled in the SAVE Plan who are eligible for early forgiveness will have their debts cancelled immediately starting next month, with no action on their part.  The Administration is accelerating this benefit months ahead of the date previously included in the final regulations implementing the SAVE Plan, which is July 1, 2024.

To help as many borrowers as possible, ED is kicking off an outreach and email campaign to encourage borrowers who are not currently enrolled in the SAVE Plan to sign up because they may benefit from this shortened repayment period.  The Administration is also announcing that there are now 6.9 million borrowers enrolled in the SAVE Plan as of early January, more than double the enrollment in the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan it replaced last August.  The shorter time to the loan forgiveness benefit will particularly help borrowers who attended community colleges since these students typically borrow smaller amounts.

A copy of the press release is found at: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/biden-harris-administration-shorten-path-debt-cancellation-some-save-borrowers.

Final Rules of Title IX Are Slated to be Finalized Next Month

According to “Inside Higher Education” on February 6, 2024, the Biden Administration has sent its draft regulations modifying Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a final step prior to publishing the final rules.  The final rules on addressing reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault have been delayed twice and are slated to be published as final regulations as early as next month.  The OMB review can typically take up to 90 days.

The Department of Education has not moved forward on a separate proposal that would protect transgender student athletes.

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