As an update to our recent post, the Massachusetts Senate took action on several important pieces of legislation that relate to higher education institutions and their students. Below is a brief summary of the activity that occurred during the passage of these bills.

Senate bill 175, An Act Relative to Unsolicited Loans, prohibits financial institutions from issuing an “unsolicited loan instrument”, such as a negotiable check, money order or draft. This bill also provides protections in the event that such an instrument is used by an unauthorized third party. During the debate on the Senate floor, several amendments to this bill were adopted and, as a result, a new draft of the bill was created. The full text of the new bill, now numbered Senate bill 2194, can be found here.

Senate bill 2183, An Act Expanding the Community College Workforce Training Incentive Program, amends an existing grant program that targets vocationally-oriented instruction at community colleges. Under the current program, only not-for-credit training programs at community colleges are eligible to receive the grants. Should Senate bill 2183 be signed into law, all vocationally-oriented instruction (both for-credit and not-for-credit) will be eligible for the grants. The Senate debated this bill on March 24th and added an amendment that requires a study of the Massachusetts Rapid Response Program. This program, administered by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, provides grants to community colleges for workforce training programs. The full text of the bill can be found here.

Senate bill 2184, An Act Relative to Uniform Financial Aid Information, mandates that each higher education institution provide a “uniform financial aid information shopping sheet” to accepted applicants of the institution. A shopping sheet is a document that provides prospective students with simplified information related to financial aid. The Senate adopted an amendment to this bill that would allow for the provision of the shopping sheet through mobile electronic means and, as a result, a new draft of the bill was created. The full text of the new bill, now numbered Senate bill 2195, can be found here.

These bills unanimously passed the Senate and have been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. This committee will review the merits of these bills and ultimately determine whether or not any or all of the bills will be referred to the full House of Representatives for a vote and passage.