Government Relations Update from Washington D.C.

WashingtonDCWhile the legislature in California is on its interim recess, here are some assorted updates from Washington D.C. and other states outside of California and Nevada.

Budget

It is almost a guarantee that the federal government will shut down at 12:01am, Tuesday, October 1 because Congress failed to pass any of the annual appropriations bill or a continuing resolution.  House Republicans and some Senate Republicans want to either defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010.  Without that provision, they are willing to shut down the government.  It is unclear how long the government will be closed.

Affirmative Action

On September 27, the Department of Education issued new guidelines that provide colleges and universities with information about the ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.  Basically the Department said that the policy guidance issued in 2011 remains in effect.  For more information, please visit the Department’s website or this article.

College Advising

According to Education Commission of the States, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education recently spotlighted college advising practices that will better help students navigate the system and graduate on time. As things stand, less than one-third of four-year college students and only 4% of community college students graduate on time. The practices — supplementing college advising with structured degree maps, encouraging students to complete 15 credits each semester, intervening when students fail to complete key courses — are derived from a new study, which will be the focus of a summit for college leaders this week.

College Affordability

  • ProPublica and Chronicle of Higher Education jointly published an article that found public universities giving less institutional aid to the poorest students and more to the wealthiest.
  • According to the College Savings Plan Network, investment in 529 college savings and prepaid tuition plans reached a record level in the first six months of 2013.  Total investment in 529 plans reached $205 billion and the number of open 529 accounts increased to 11.43 million as of June 30, 2013, up from 10.74 million in December 2011.  For more information, please see the Network’s report.
  • The Obama Administration is conducting outreach to students about income-based repayment programs.  For more information, please see this article.
  • The Third Way, a non-partisan Washington, D.C.-based think tank, published a detailed plan for pushing the total cost of a public bachelor’s degree down to $10,000.  For more information, please see the Plan or this Washington Post article.
  • The Washington Post published an article titled “5 Myths About Student Debt.”

Investing in Education

  • According to the National Center for Education Statistics about local, state and federal resources, the U.S. spent about $603 billion on education in 2011.  In 10 out of 22 states that reported data about charter school districts, these districts spent 10 percent less than the median per-student amount spent by other districts.   For more information on this and other education spending please see their full report.
  • The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released Most States Funding Schools Less Than Before the Recession (see chart below).  From the report, “At least 34 states are providing less funding per student for the 2013-14 school year than they did before the recession hit.  Thirteen of these states have cut per-student funding by more than 10 percent.

By Steven Mercer
Co-Chair for California
Government Relations Committee

* photo from http://hamiltoncityschools.com/wilson/2013/09/22/8th-grade-washington-d-c-trip-meeting/.

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