Campus Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force Representatives Present to Legislative Panel

COP Executive Director Paul Francis joined University of Washington Chief of Police John Vinson and The Evergreen State College Office of Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator Kelly Schrader yesterday in presenting to the Senate Higher Education Committee on the work of the Campus Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force.

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From left: Paul Francis, Senator Barbara Bailey, Kelly Schrader, Chief John Vinson

Created in SB 5719 from 2015, the Task Force is charged with:

  • Developing a set of best practices that institutions of higher education may employ to promote the awareness of campus sexual violence, reduce the occurrence of campus sexual violence, and enhance student safety.
  • Developing recommendations for improving institutional campus sexual violence policies and procedures.
  • Developing recommendations for improving collaboration amongst institutions and law enforcement; and report to the Legislature and the institutions of higher education on its goals and recommendations annually.

The presentation provided policymakers the opportunity to receive an update on foundational work of the Task Force in 2015 as well as some of the critical issues being examined in depth in the five subcommittees. Also discussed was related sexual assault legislation from last session, SB 5518 and HB 1068 as well as some of the larger issues to address over the next year.  Detailed information is available in the Task Force’s 2015 report to the Legislature.

Archive video of the panel’s testimony is available at: http://www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2016010307 (begins at the 27 minute mark).

The Task Force will continue meeting through the end of this year and will submit a final report to the legislature in December 2016.  All meeting related materials are available at: http://councilofpresidents.org/safewacampus.html.

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Local U.S. Representative Introduces Legislation Focused on Educational Opportunity

U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) introduced legislation to reform the Pell Grant program for today’s student.  Kilmer a long-time supporter of higher education from his Washington State House and Senate days, introduced the legislation after talking with constituents across his district.  The bill would:

  • Increase the Pell Grant award from $5,775 to $9,139 so that it covers the average cost of in-state tuition at a four-year public university/college.
  • Enable the Pell Grants to be used year-round rather than limiting use to two semesters and 15 semesters overall.
  • Increase Pell Grants for students far below the poverty line.
  • Change funding for the Pell Grant program from discretionary to mandatory so students won’t have to worry about year-to-year changes in awards.
  • Increase awareness about the program for students who may not know about how Pell Grants can help them.
  • Stop considering Pell Grants used to cover indirect educational cots (including housing, transportation.

 

U.S. Department of Education Releases Final FY 2016 Funding Tables

This week, the U.S.  Department of Education (ED) released its final funding tables for fiscal year (FY) 2016, impacting award year 2016-2017. Most of the funding for the Title IV programs aligns with previously reported estimates derived from the final FY 2016 spending bill passed by Congress in December. While the Pell Grant maximum for award year 2016-17 is lower than the original estimate of $5,915 – dropping instead to $5,845 – this new amount still represents a $70 increase over last year’s maximum Pell Grant of $5,775. Similar to last year, the change in the final FY 2016 amount is the result of a lower than anticipated Consumer Price Index (CPI), yielding a smaller increase in the mandatory portion of Pell’s funding.

Bill Introduced to Restore Direct Subsidized Loans to Graduate Students

Late last month, U.S. Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) introduced legislation to restore eligibility for graduate students to the federal direct subsidized loan program.  The Protecting Our Students by Terminating Graduate Rates that Add to Debt (POST GRAD) Act would again allow graduate and professional students to receive subsidized Stafford loans.  The bill would restore eligibility beginning in the 2016-17 award year.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 eliminated graduate and professional student eligibility for the in-school interest subsidy as a means of reducing the federal budget deficit.

President Obama Signs Perkins Loan Program Extension Legislation

Before the holiday, President Obama signed into law the Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2015. The bill extends the authorization of the Perkins Loan Program for another two years, after the program expired at the end of September. The extension brings several major programmatic changes, including: (1) eliminating Perkins loan eligibility for new graduate students beginning in the 2016-17 year; (2) requiring schools to award all subsidized and unsubsidized Direct loans prior to awarding Perkins for new undergraduate Perkins borrowers; and (3) ending all Perkins loan authority effective September 30, 2017, thereby discontinuing any grandfathering beyond that date.

Campus Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force Report Submitted to Policymakers

The Campus Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force, created in Senate Bill (SB) 5719, recently submitted its first of two required reports to the Legislature (available here).  Prime sponsored by Sen. Barbara Bailey, the legislation established a 14-member Task Force to:

(a) Develop a set of best practices that institutions of higher education and private independent higher education institutions may employ to promote the awareness of campus sexual violence, reduce the occurrence of campus sexual violence, and enhance student safety;

(b) Develop recommendations for institutions of higher education and private independent higher education institutions for improving institutional campus sexual violence policies and procedures; and

(c) Develop recommendations for improving collaboration on campus sexual violence issues among institutions of higher education and between institutions of higher education and law enforcement.

Staff from the Council of Presidents sit on the Task Force and also staff it.  The Task Force has held five meetings this year in Seattle, Bellevue, Spokane, and Bellevue.  More information on the group is available at: http://www.councilofpresidents.org/safewacampus.html.

The Task Force will continue meeting over the next 12 months as required in the authorizing legislation; it will submit a final report to the Legislature in December 2016.