Justin Napier is exactly the kind of community college graduate Tennessee was hoping for.
In high school, Napier didn’t have his eye on college. In fact, he had a job lined up working on race cars after graduation. But in the spring of 2014, a year before Napier graduated, Gov. Bill Haslam announced a plan to make community college free for graduating high school seniors, part of a broader plan to dramatically increase the number of adults in Tennessee with college credentials. It was called, grandly, the Tennessee Promise.
“We are committed to making a clear statement to families that education beyond high school is a priority,” Haslam said in his State of the State address that year.
The U.S. Department of Education announced proposed regulations, available for public inspection today in the Federal Register, aimed at protecting as many as 9 million college students receiving $25 billion in federal student aid by providing tougher standards and greater transparency surrounding agreements between colleges and companies in the rapidly expanding college debit and prepaid marketplace. The proposed regulations are intended to safeguard students from excess fees and provide students the freedom to choose how to access their federal student aid funds when paying for college. The action by the Department would bring much needed reforms to a sector that has operated without sufficient transparency, putting taxpayer dollars at risk of financial loss.
“It is critically important to ensure that students can freely choose how to receive their federal student aid refunds,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “Students need objective, neutral information about their account options. For example, students should be able to choose to receive deposits to their own checking accounts and not be forced to utilize debit cards with obscure and unreasonable fees.”