Priorities for the 115th Congress (2017-2018)
NCHER believes the federal government
plays an important role in assisting students, borrowers, and families in
accessing and completing postsecondary education, leading to productive
engagement in the workforce. As the nation’s largest higher education finance
trade association, NCHER and its members have the requisite expertise to help
shape policies governing federal and private student aid programs on behalf of
students and families. As higher education policy moves forward during the
second half of the 115th Congress, NCHER urges action on the
following legislative priorities:
Promoting tax‐exempt financing of education loans, reducing costs for students and families.
- Preserve tax‐exempt financing of education loans in any tax reform package.
- Support H.R. 480, the “Student Loan Opportunity Act” by allowing 150(d) organizations to access tax‐exempt financing for private education loans.
- Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) or exclude tax‐exempt student loan‐based securities from the AMT.
Clarify tax‐exempt bonds used to make private loans that refinance existing tax‐exempt private loans are not advance refunding bonds, particularly where the issuer is utilizing new volume cap to issue the bonds.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS/TELEPHONE CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT
Using technology to help struggling borrowers.
- Oppose the “HANG UP Act” to repeal the TCPA language, and urge the FCC to reconsider its final rules and strike a more appropriate balance between protecting consumers and allowing reasonable and responsible use of dialer technology to reach borrowers on their cell phones to provide them with needed assistance.
HIGHER EDUCATION ACT REFORM
Reducing burdensome federal regulations that create barriers to assisting student and parent borrowers.
- Remove preferred lender list restrictions, rescind the Dear Colleague Letter on collection costs, and allow state grant agencies to have access to the school list order.
Expanding access to loan rehabilitation.
- Allow defaulted borrowers to rehabilitate their loans more than once under certain circumstances, such as enrolling in and completing a financial education and debt management program.
- Allow access to the National Directory of New Hires and the National Student Loan Data System so loan servicers and guaranty agencies can locate struggling borrowers to provide counseling on repayment options and offer the opportunity to rehabilitate defaulted loans.
Improving federal student aid programs by streamlining student loan repayment and preventing overborrowing.
- Simplify and streamline the myriad of student loan repayment plans.
- Improve and automate the annual recertification process for borrowers participating in income‐driven repayment plans.
- Dramatically reduce the number of questions on the FAFSA.
- Provide authority to financial aid administrators to lower annual and aggregate student loan limits; and consider capping the amount parents can borrow under the PLUS program.
Assisting students and families in making smart postsecondary education decisions.
- Require states and/or institutions to provide pre‐college, in‐school, and postcollege financial education and debt management services to students, borrowers, and families; strengthen existing entrance and exit counseling requirements.
- Promote the use of 529 Plans.
Providing for an orderly wind‐down of the federal guaranteed student loan program.
- Authorize the payment of AMF through 2026, provide just‐in‐time reinsurance payments to facilitate cash flow into the Federal Fund, and remove the 45 percent cap on Federal Direct Consolidation Loans, three proposals included in the Department’s report on the winddown of FFELP operations mandated by Congress.
- Develop a specific process for those guaranty agencies interested in relinquishing their FFELP portfolios and the criteria and process the Department will use when selecting successor agencies.
Promoting better loan servicing for student and parent borrowers.
- Review the current procurement to identify necessary changes to the policies and approaches that will result in meaningful and sustainable improvements to federal student loan servicing, promote the use of state and nonprofit organizations with expertise in helping student and parent borrowers, ensure there are common performance metrics across all servicers, and ensure federal law and contractual requirements preempt state and local rules that impact federal student loan servicing.
Promoting the availability of private education loans
- Mandate that Direct Loan borrowers receive accurate disclosure of the cost of their loans and permit private education loan lenders to remove the default record upon the rehabilitation of a private education loan.
Leveraging private sector participation in the federal student loan program to protect taxpayers and assist students and families.
- Require federal agencies to use Fair‐Value Accounting when measuring the true costs of federal credit programs, and enhance the role of private capital and local expertise – led by state and nonprofit lenders, holders, service.