More than three-quarters of a few dozen national education leaders in a new survey believe President-elect Joe Biden will issue guidance or new rules on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program within his first six months in office.
Whiteboard Advisors' Education Insider survey aims to gauge the policies education influencers predict Biden will tackle first. More than half of the respondents believe Biden will address student loan forgiveness and borrower defense rules during that period.
It is widely expected that Biden, who has not yet publicly named his Education Secretary, will undo several of the Trump administration's cornerstone higher education policies.
It's unsurprising Biden would move to firm up DACA, which was created while he served as vice president under former President Barack Obama. The program, considered to be a top achievement of the administration, lets unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as children work and study here, and protects them from deportation.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the program this summer following the Trump administration's attempts to end it. Though the administration pared back DACA in response to the ruling, a federal judge fully reinstated it this month.
One commenter in Whiteboard's survey noted that preserving DACA would be an “easy early win” for Biden. The initiative has seen some bipartisan support.
Officials included in the survey are current and former White House and U.S. Department of Education leaders, current and former congressional workers, state educational leaders and heads of major education organizations and think tanks.
More than half of survey respondents said Biden would forgive some amount of federal student loan debt within six months in office. Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., recently pressed Biden to eliminate $50,000 in debt per person through executive action.
The same share predicted Biden would propose new borrower defense rules during that window. Those rules enable the federal government to forgive loans for students whose institutions defrauded them. The Ed Department's new borrower defense regulation took effect this year and significantly raises the bar for having loans forgiven. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has also landed in legal hot water over the issue.
Few respondents (18%) think Biden will immediately try to revise rules for how colleges should investigate and potentially punish campus sexual assault under Title IX, the law banning sex discrimination in educational settings. DeVos also issued a controversial new Title IX rule, which reduces the number of cases colleges would need to look into.
More than a third of respondents expect Title IX changes within the first two years of the administration.