October 14, 2019

October 11, 2019

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Education Department Launches Educational Quality Through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) Pilot Program

Legislative Activity

USED Experimental Site Opportunity: Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP)

Last Wednesday, the Department of Education announced the launch of the Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) program. The pilot program is part of the Experimental Sites Initiative that allows colleges and universities to experiment with various measures of statutory and regulatory flexibility in disbursing Title IV federal aid. The EQUIP program is aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of granting Title IV flexibility to partnerships between institutions of higher education and non-traditional education providers, such as intensive “bootcamp”-style training, personalized online programs, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and short-term certificate programs.

Currently, institutions of higher education that receive Title IV funding are not allowed to offer an education program where more than 50 percent of the content and instruction is provided by an organization that is not another postsecondary institution. Through the EQUIP initiative, the Department would waive this limitation for institutions that are partnering with non-traditional education providers to allow students to receive financial aid.

To be considered for the EQUIP program, institutions of higher education must submit a letter of interest to the Department of Education by Monday, December 14, 2015.

The Department will review the letters of interest and issue invitations to institutions to submit a full application. The program will likely be very competitive as the Department has indicated that it plans to select no more than ten sites. The criteria the Department will use to select sites are: (1) innovation in achieving positive student outcomes; (2) equity and access, especially for low-income students; (3) rigorous proposed quality assurance process; (4) program affordability; and (5) strong proposed student and taxpayer protections.

Additional details on what information to include in the letter of interest can be found in theFederal Register notice.

DC Voucher Legislation

On Wednesday, the House will vote on the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results, or SOAR, Act (HR 10), a legacy piece of legislation for outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), which would update and reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship (voucher) Program for an additional five years. While many House Democrats oppose the program, a bipartisan companion bill has been introduced in the Senate (S 2171).

This Week’s Hearings:
  • Thursday, October 22: House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity will hold a hearing on “A Review of VA’s VetSuccess on Campus Program.”

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Roxana Boyd, Squire Patton Boggs, Legislative Research,
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Roxana Boyd works closely with universities, municipalities and transportation authorities on a range of legislative and administration matters related to higher education and transportation and infrastructure. She provides research to inform clients on developments related to their strategic plans, monitors legislative movement and drafts client responses when appropriate. Roxana also assists clients to identify and secure federal funding through competitive and discretionary grants.

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Amy Davenport, Public Policy Specialist, Squire Patton Boggs
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Amy Davenport works closely with universities, municipalities and private sector companies on a range of legislative and administrative matters related to higher education, cybersecurity, and transportation and infrastructure. She assists her clients in the development and implementation of comprehensive strategic plans and provides policy guidance on the potential impact of federal policies. Much of her work focuses on identifying and pursuing federal funding opportunities to support research and development initiatives, infrastructure projects and other community services through competitive and discretionary grants. 

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Dana T. Weekes, SquirePattonBoggs, legislation, federal funding
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Dana Weekes represents corporations, universities, and nonprofit organizations on a range of legislative and administrative matters related to agriculture, education and federal funding. She advocates for client interests in major reauthorizations, including the farm bill, the Child Nutrition Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Higher Education Act and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. Dana also advances and protects client interests as federal agencies look to implement legislation through the rulemaking process. Her issues...

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Amy Budner Smith, SquirePattonBoggs, public policy, non-profit
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Drawing from her background in policy analysis and project management, Amy Budner Smith provides policy guidance to and advocates on behalf of universities and colleges, hospital systems, and other public and non-profit organizations. She focuses on securing federal funding opportunities to support clients’ infrastructure improvements, program expansions and research, and other important community services. Ms. Smith also specializes in developing comprehensive strategic plans to raise clients’ national profile and counseling clients on the potential impact of federal...

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