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This Fall in Higher Education

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Summer vacation is officially over in Washington, D.C. Congress is not likely to do much – it’s back in session for a brief window before heading out until after the November election. But the Obama administration enters its final leg with a number of regulations, decisions and new policy initiatives to handle – many of which should shape up for a busy fall in the postsecondary education policy space.

Here are the administration’s hot higher education topics to keep in mind as we move toward cooler weather.

Remaining regulations. While the Obama administration is unlikely to undertake any new regulatory efforts in its final months, it has several key rules that still need finalizing. This includes significant rules that affect online learning and protection of students who have been defrauded by their colleges. The administration has to work fast – rules need to be published before Nov. 1, 2016, in order to take effect by July 1, 2017.

The so-called “borrower defense” regulations are the most important to keep an eye on. These rules create a clearer process for borrowers who were defrauded by their college to discharge their debt. This matters a lot for borrowers stuck with debt they cannot afford – particularly students who attended the now-shuttered Corinthian Colleges. But all colleges will be eyeing these rules carefully, because they also create requirements for institutions to face additional financial requirements if they are caught engaging in questionable behavior.

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