CSU Office of Federal Relations

CSU Alumni Surpass 3 Million Mark
May 8th, 2015

With Commencement 2015, the California State University will reach a major milestone-exceeding three million alumni worldwide. One out of every twenty Americans with a college degree earned that degree at the CSU. CSU alumni are making profound contributions to California and the nation in such fields as business, engineering, agriculture, education, hospitality, tourism, entertainment, athletics and health care. Sixteen members of the 114th Congress are among the thousands of CSU alumni working in the Washington, DC area.

To recognize this milestone, the university has launched the Class of 3 Million celebration, which runs through the 2014-15 academic year. CSU alumni are invited to show their campus pride by changing their online yearbook profile photo to one showing them wearing campus-branded gear.

 

President, Democrats Propose Student Loan Repayment Options
June 16th, 2014

Last week, the White House and Senate Democrats made a push to provide relief to varying cohorts of former students with student loan debt. On June 9, President Obama signed an Executive Order aimed at potentially easing student loan repayment for millions of past borrowers. The order directs the Department of Education to expand its most generous income-based loan repayment program, known as Pay As You Earn (PAYE), which caps the amount a borrower must pay at 10 percent of borrower income, and forgives any unpaid amount after 20 years. Currently the PAYE program is limited to those who took out their first loan after September 30, 2007, and continued borrowing after September 30, 2011, although it was already set to become an option for all new borrowers on July 1. The President’s action would expand PAYE as an option for all earlier borrowers, and is expected to increase the number eligible by 5 million former students. The Department will have to engage in a regulatory process that means that this new option will be available late next year at the earliest. The Executive Order would also require the Department of Education to renegotiate debt collection contracts to provide greater incentives for student loan servicers to keep borrowers from defaulting on their loans, and direct the Department to better publicize the availability of the PAYE option.

Meanwhile, on June 11, Senate Democrats’ attempt to pass a student loan refinancing bill, S. 2432, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, was thwarted by Senate Republicans. Championed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the legislation would allow federal and private student loan borrowers to refinance their student loans at today’s lower interest rates for new federal student loan borrowers. The cost to the Treasury would be paid for by implementing “the Buffett Rule,” which is a surtax on taxpayers earning in excess of $1 million per year.

While the student loan refinancing legislation is highly unlikely to progress beyond the Senate this year, the President’s action will take full effect in December, 2015. However, refinancing legislation, which is part of the Democrats’ “Fair Shot” agenda for the 2014 mid-term elections, may well become a theme in upcoming Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization legislation. In that event, paying for the high cost (expected to be about $58 billion over 10 years) would likely come either partially or fully from cuts or changes to other higher education programs. In a time of austere budgets for education, such offsets could become particularly problematic for larger programs, such as Pell Grants.

Higher Education Act Hearings Continue in Senate
May 28th, 2014

This month the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee continued its consideration of the Higher Education Act (HEA) with two more “Round Table” hearings on the subjects of Minority Serving Intuitions (MSIs) and veterans’ education. In a departure from previous practice, the hearings were not presided over by HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN), but were instead overseen by other committee members.

The first, entitled “Strengthening Minority Serving Institutions: Best Practices and Innovations for Student Success,” was held on May 13, and presided over by “acting” Chair Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Ranking Member Rand Paul (R-KY). The second, entitled “Examining Access and Supports for Servicemembers and Veterans in Higher Education,” took place on May 22, and was presided over by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). Senators Sanders and Burr also serve as the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. The HELP committee will likely hold additional informational hearings this year.

For its part, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has concluded its reauthorization hearings. The Republican majority is reportedly in the process of preparing a draft reauthorization bill, which is expected to be unveiled later this summer. At this juncture, it is not expected to be a bi-partisan effort.

New Congressional Caucus to Champion California’s Public Colleges, Students
May 5th, 2014

On May 1, surrounded by students and recent graduates of the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) systems, Reps. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) and Jeff Denham (R-Hawthorne) announced the creation of the California Public Higher Education Caucus (CPHEC). Bera and Denham said CPHEC will advocate for the UC and CSU “schools and their students and support improvements to the quality, affordability, and accessibility of California’s public higher education system.” Tom Rivera, a 2013 SDSU graduate who currently works in Sen. Barbara Boxer’s office, represented CSU students at the event. The caucus currently has thirty members.

“The California State University greatly appreciates the efforts of Representatives Bera and Denham to create this caucus,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White.  “The CSU provides an outstanding return on federal investments in our students, faculty research, and institutions.  Last year alone, 40,000 Pell Grant recipients earned bachelor’s degrees across our 23 campuses, well prepared to enter the workforce in high-demand fields ranging from information technology to agriculture.  We look forward to working with all members of the caucus and our partners in California public higher education to continue to improve graduation rates, keep student debt low, and move California’s economy forward.  On a personal note, California public higher education is in my DNA.  I have benefited from all three segments of California’s public institutions: Community College, two CSU campuses, and UC Berkeley.  I’ve also been on the faculty and in senior administration in the UC and now the CSU.  I am grateful for the caucus’s interest in making similar opportunities available to all Californians.”

California Dem Takano Joins House Education Committee
April 3rd, 2014

Freshman Representative Mark Takano (D-Riverside) has been named to the House Education & the Workforce committee. The former teacher and community college board member gave up his seat on the House Science committee, but remains on the Veterans Affairs committee. Takano becomes the fifth Californian on the committee, joining Republicans Buck McKeon and Duncan Hunter and Democrats George Miller and Susan Davis. However, McKeon and Miller, both former committee chairs, have announced their retirements at the end of this year.

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Last Updated: May 08, 2015