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  • December 18, 2013
  • November 26, 2013
  • October 7, 2013
  • September 20, 2013
    • Adrian President Docking Tells House Committee How Independent Colleges are Innovating

      Innovations at independent colleges were front and center as the House Committee on Education and the Workforce continued its busy hearing schedule on September 18, with a look at how partnerships among businesses and colleges are helping transform higher education. In the hearing, Adrian president Jeff Docking told the committee about its efforts to develop a unique business model that relies on strategic investments, measurable results, and accountability that has helped the college grow from less than 900 students in 2005 with an annual operating deficit of $1.3 million to an institution of more than 1,700 students and an operating budget that has more than doubled.

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    • Colleges Receiving IRS Penalty Notices in Random Compliance Check

      Institutions are receiving penalty notices and possible stiff fines for not properly reporting student Taxpayer Identification Numbers(TINs) or Social Security Numbers (SSNs) when submitting the IRS-required Form 1098-T. Form 1098-T is the Tuition Payments Statement that colleges and universities are required to issue for the purpose of determining a student’s eligibility for the American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning tax credits. However, via the IRS there are steps colleges can take to demonstrate that they have made a good-faith effort to collect the required information and possibly avoid the fines.

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    • Deadline Looms; Government Shutdown Possible

      Updated September 20, 2013, 1:00 p.m.

      As the clock ticks down to the beginning of Fiscal Year 2014 on October 1, Congress needs to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the federal government temporarily funded, in the absence of finalized appropriations bills. On September 20, the House passed (230-189) a resolution that would provide continuing FY 2013 funding for the government until December 15, and include language to defund the Affordable Care Act. Action now moves to the Senate.

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    • Department of Education Aims to Update Gainful Employment Regulations

      In the latest round of changes, the Department proposes to take non-Title IV recipients out of the data collected on gainful employment programs and proposes to eliminate low loan repayment rates as an indicator of a failing program, although programs would still have to disclose their repayment rates. The Department is also proposing significant changes to the way it calculates annual and discretionary debt-to-earnings ratios used to judge the quality of gainful employment programs. Overall the changes increase substantially the number of programs covered by the gainful employment rules and likely the number of programs that will fail.

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    • Final SEC Municipal Advisor Rule Exempts College and University Board Members

      The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in a recent announcement of its final rules establishing a permanent process for registering municipal advisors, exempts college and university board members acting in their official capacity from having to register as municipal advisors.

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    • Senate Kicks Off Formal Reauthorization Process

      Momentum is building towards the on-time renewal of the Higher Education Act, with the formal announcement of the hearing topics and procedures planned by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). Rather than setting a single deadline for receipt of all recommendations, the HELP Committee is asking that interested parties submit at any one time only those recommendations related to an announced hearing topic. Following closely on the heels the of the committee’s announcement of its general reauthorization plans, the first hearing was held on September 19, focused on the respective roles of the higher education “triad” of accreditors, states, and the federal Department of Education.

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    • St. Leo President Arthur Kirk Testifies at House Hearing on Veterans Education

      In a September 11 hearing focused on the work colleges are doing to help servicemembers and veterans succeed, Saint Leo University President Arthur Kirk highlighted the University’s 40-year history of providing student success initiatives designed to provide a proactive veteran-supported environment. A testament to their success is that the University awarded 311 associate degrees, 884 bachelors, and 290 graduate degrees to veterans in 2012.

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  • September 5, 2013
    • Constitution Day: September 17

      In 2005, Congress passed legislation mandating that educational institutions receiving federal funds (including federal student aid) are to hold an educational program on the U.S. Constitution on September 17 each year. This day commemorates the 1787 signing of the Constitution. The federal provision does not define "educational program." This means that colleges and universities have a great deal of latitude in exactly how they choose to recognize the day.

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    • Dept. Ed. Releases Additional Guidance on State Authorization Rules

      The Department of Education issued additional guidance on August 9 intended to clarify how institutions can document they are properly authorized by a state.  Institutions named in a state charter, statute, or constitution clearly meet the requirement, but other colleges face a bit more daunting challenge.

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    • Dept. of Defense Soliciting Public Comments on Revised Tuition Assistance MOU

      The Department of Defense is soliciting public comment on proposed revisions in the Memorandum of Understanding governing its Tuition Assistance (TA) programs.  The comment period is open until September 30.  All institutions participating in the Tuition Assistance program will be required to sign the revised MOU once it is in place.

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    • NAICU Co-sponsors Upcoming NACUA Compliance Symposium

      The National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) will offer a Symposium & Continuing Legal Education Workshop:  Higher Education Compliance Programs and Obligations, to be held in Washington, D.C., November 6-8.  NAICU has joined several other higher education organizations in co-sponsoring the symposium.

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    • President Obama’s Higher Education Proposals Stir Much Debate

      Details are still sketchy, but President Obama’s college affordability plan, which he announced August 22, has triggered an ongoing discussion in the media.  Congressional reaction has been cautious on both sides of aisle.  Meanwhile, many NAICU members have issued public statements on the possible effects - both positive and negative - that they see in the President’s proposals.

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    • Reminder: SAM Project Registration Continues

      The Student Achievement Measure (SAM), the new project to measure student progress and completion launched by the six national higher education associations, continues to accept college and university registrations.  Participation in SAM is voluntary, and also requires joining and paying the membership fees for the National Student Clearinghouse.  Institutions electing to participate in SAM will post their own student achievement data on the SAM website after the 2012-13 academic year data become available.

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  • July 25, 2013
    • Concerns Continue about Plus Loan Eligibility

      The stricter enforcement of Parent PLUS loan eligibility requirements has most impacted institutions serving large numbers of low-income students.  The Department has not changed its criteria, though, despite calls for it to relax the requirements, but has said it will reconsider denials upon appeal, and has issued guidance about an expedited appeals process.  The topic, which drew testimony from many colleges at regional hearings this spring, could be considered in negotiated rulemaking sessions planned for this fall.

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    • Department Releases Financial Responsibility Scores

      The Department of Education's long-overdue financial responsibility scores for FY 2011 were released July 23, with the Department claiming that more than 150 private nonprofit and for-profit institutions had failed the test.  The scores are intended to measure the fiscal health of private colleges, but NAICU has cited problems with the process that can result in fiscally-stable institutions receiving a low score.

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    • House Committee Votes to Repeal State Authorization, Credit Hour, Gainful Employment Regs

      The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has approved legislation that would repeal the state authorization, credit hour definition, and gainful employment regulations.  Those regulations, issued in 2010, were targeted for repeal in the Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act, which the committee approved on July 24.  NAICU and other higher education organizations recently filed a letter supporting the act.

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    • NAICU Submits HEA Recommendations to House Committee

      On July 24, NAICU submitted its recommendations on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  The association's proposals address the six areas designated for input by the committee, plus a seventh subject, improving teacher preparation programs.  NAICU members have until August 2 to individually submit recommendations.

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    • Senate Approves Bill Changing Student Loan Interest Rates

      A bill that would change how student loan interest rates are set was approved by the Senate on July 24.  The bill would tie all student loan rates to the 10-year Treasury note rate plus an add-on, with specific rate caps.  Under that formula, interest on undergraduate loans for the upcoming school year would be 3.9 percent, a rollback from the 6.8 percent for subsidized loans that went into effect on July 1.  The bill is expected to be passed by the House, and signed into law by President Obama.

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    • Senate Approves Education Funding – with a Hint of Higher Ed Reform

      The Senate Appropriations Committee offered strong support for student aid programs through increased funding in its Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill approved July 11. It also advanced two major policy proposals aimed at college persistence and completion reform, and gave a hint of what may be addressed in the upcoming Higher Education Act reauthorization bill. Still, without a big budget deal, the appropriations process is likely headed for gridlock in September.

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  • July 3, 2013
    • Administration Releases Guides for Emergency Operations Plans

      Three new guides on emergency operations plans for schools, colleges, and houses of worship were released by the Obama administration on June 18. The guides incorporate lessons learned from the recent shootings in Newtown and Oak Creek, and the tornadoes in Oklahoma. They can be customized for each type of community, and applied to revising and updating existing plans, as well as creating new ones.

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    • Comprehensive Immigration Reform Passes Senate; Fate in House Uncertain

      Last week, the Senate approved a sweeping immigration reform measure that would expand the paths to citizenship for undocumented and legal immigrants, including undocumented students, and increase border security. The bill, S. 744, includes DREAM Act language that would extend benefits to undocumented students who attend college. House leaders have indicated they will not take up the Senate bill in its entirety, but will meet to discuss strategy in early July.

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    • Dept. Ed. Rejects Efforts to Reform Financial Responsibility Standards

      The efforts of private colleges and NAICU to reform the Department of Education’s Financial Responsibility Standards (FRS) have been rejected. The Department’s dismissal apparently means it will continue with its seriously flawed financial responsibility ratios test, which has created unnecessary burdens on financially sound colleges. In light of that, NAICU will include its FRS proposals with its preliminary recommendations on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. NAICU members, who should have those preliminary recommendations by mid-July, are encouraged to also contact their congressional representatives about any FRS concerns.

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    • Dept. Ed. Sets Separate Neg-reg Committee on Gainful Employment

      After concluding its June 4 negotiated rulemaking hearing in Atlanta, the Department of Education announced it will form a separate negotiated rulemaking committee to establish standards for gainful employment programs.  The Department indicated it would not rule out establishing additional committees to consider other issues covered in recent hearings, as well as debit card and campus-based aid program issues addressed in hearings last year.

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    • Edgewood College President Testifies on GI Bill at Veterans’ Education Hearing

      On behalf of NAICU, Edgewood College President Dan Carey testified about his college’s successful veteran students programs at a June 20 House subcommittee hearing on the use and impact of GI Bill benefits. Representatives of other colleges and organizations highlighted their efforts, as well as the development of a veteran students’ performance database. The VA outlined its work in implementing the “principles of excellence,” and the new veterans’ information requirements enacted late last year.

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    • Extension Requests Again Available for State Authorization Regs

      With the July 1 effective date for state authorization regulations having arrived amidst continued confusion about what is required to meet them, the Department of Education has once again offered a one-year delay in implementation under certain circumstances. To qualify for the delay, an institution must demonstrate that an extension of time will allow it to come into compliance with the regulation by July 1, 2014. The extension process requires an institution to obtain an explanation from its state of “how an additional one-year extension will permit the state to modify its procedures to comply.”

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    • FEMA Launches New Private Sector Web Portal, Training, Strategic Involvement

      The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently launched an Academia & Resilience web portal which contains emergency management and homeland security tools and training, preparedness campaigns, and other resources targeted to the higher education community. FEMA also has developed programs to train students, faculty, and staff in emergency preparedness, and to allow members of the private sector to hold seats on its National Response Coordination Center, where strategic decisions are made during emergencies.

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    • NCTQ Attacks Quality of College Teacher Prep Programs

      A report highly critical of the quality of teacher education programs by the National Council on Teacher Quality, released June 18, immediately generated national media coverage. The data and methodology NCTQ used, which found 164 programs so lacking that they received a “Consumer Alert,” has been deemed unscientific and invalid by some experts. Further, the group used questionable tactics to obtain data from private colleges, relatively few of which participated in the review.

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    • Subsidized Student Loan Interest Rate Jumps to 6.8 Percent … For Now

      The interest rate for subsidized student loans doubled to 6.8 percent on July 1, after Congress failed to work out a deal that would keep the rate at 3.4 percent. However, Congress continues to work on proposals to lower rates on subsidized loans, with the Senate scheduled to vote on several rate proposals on July 10. While the proposals would lower rates on loans for upcoming students, interest rates likely would be tied to market rates in order to remain budget neutral, and that could mean higher rates in the future.

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  • May 3, 2013
    • House Subcommittee Explores the Future Focus of Federal Student Aid

      “Simplify…simplify…simplify federal financial aid” was the message delivered by Trinity University Washington President Patricia McGuire to members of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce during a hearing today on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

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    • IRS Publishes Final College and University Audit Report, Hearing Set for May 8

      The IRS has now published its final report on a compliance project that began in 2008 with questionnaires to 400 colleges and universities, leading to audits of 34. Findings included discrepancies on unrelated business income and reasonable compensation to campus executives, which has spurred the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight to schedule a May 8 hearing to review those findings.

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    • NAICU Weighs in on House Tax Reform Efforts

      As part of its tax reform efforts, the House Ways and Means Committee has designated 11 working groups to consider different aspects of the tax code. Those groups have solicited public comments on a variety of tax issues. In response, NAICU –both individually and jointly with other groups-- has submitted statements on several important areas, including continuation of tax-exempt bond funding; simplifying tax credits and deductions with an expanded and permanent credit; and maintaining a three-tiered systems of benefits for families that are saving for college, applying for college, or repaying student loans. NAICU has also advocated for keeping the charitable tax deduction and making the IRA charitable rollover permanent.

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    • New Department Neg-reg Hearings to Include Regs Rejected by Courts

      In a continuation and expansion of negotiated rulemaking proceedings that it started last May, the Department of Education has announced its intention to hold rulemaking sessions on a variety of regulatory topics related to program integrity. In addition to issues examined in 2012 hearings, the Department will review new subjects, including the gainful employment and state authorization regulations recently struck down in court. Several House members, including two key committee chairs, have urged the Department to abandon efforts to pursue regulations in those two areas.

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    • Six NAICU Members Among Finalists for Climate Leadership Awards

      Six NAICU members -- Carleton College, Chatham University, Goddard College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Middlebury College, and Oberlin College – were chosen as finalists for SecondNature’s 2013 Climate Leadership Awards. They were among the 20 cited as exemplifying the mission of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment to re-stabilize the earth’s climate through education, research, and community engagement.

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    • Washington Buzzing About Student Loans

      With less than 60 days left until the July 1 hike on interest rates for subsidized student loans, stakeholders and members of both political parties remain divided on how best to move forward. No congressional action can occur until the Congressional Budget Office completes its scoring of the President’s budget -- likely in mid-to-late May. That means Congress is unlikely to take action until June. Meantime, NAICU’s board recently met and gave staff guidance on how to engage in the upcoming debate on reforming the student loan program.

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  • April 15, 2013
    • An About-Face on Using Value-Added Scores for Evaluating Teachers?

      Both Bill Gates and nationally recognized education writer, Jay Mathews, have recently announced new positions on utilizing testing and value-added scores for assessing teachers. Will the new positions of those education leaders, combined with criticism of test-based evaluations from states across the country, lead to a broader, multi-pronged test for teacher performance? Could that, in turn, lead to a more nuanced approach in the Department of Education’s anticipated regulations on teacher preparation programs?

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    • Education Tax Benefits Examined at House Ways and Means Roundtable; Belmont University Among Participants

      The higher education tax benefits were discussed at a House Ways and Means Committee working group roundtable held April 9. Jason Rogers of Belmont University, one of the roundtable speakers, urged that the current three-tiered system of benefits be maintained, and that the American Opportunity Tax Credit be expanded and made permanent. In addition to the roundtable discussion, the House working group has held other meetings addressing higher education tax reform, including one with higher education community representatives, including NAICU.

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    • Postsecondary Distance Education Final Report Released With Recommended Terms for Reciprocity Agreements

      The Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education released its final report on April 11, bolstering efforts to develop interstate reciprocity agreements that would simplify the approval process for institutions offering distance education programs. The report includes recommended terms for reciprocity agreements, including provisions that an institution would require approval only from its home state.

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    • President’s Budget Proposes Market-Based Interest Rates on Student Loans

      President Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposal includes a new, market-based approach to setting student loan interest rates that is based primarily on the rates of 10-year Treasury bills. The plan, submitted to Congress on April 10, does not include a cap on how high those rates could be, and it eliminates the current cap for consolidated student loans. The President also proposes to limit tax deductions, including those for charitable contributions, but continues to fund the projected Pell increase and boosts spending on Federal Work Study. 

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  • March 28, 2013
    • Court Rejects Attempt to Resurrect Gainful Employment Rules; Decision Relies Partly on Student Unit Records Ban

      The Education Department’s efforts to revive the gainful employment (GE) regulations struck down last June were rejected in a U.S. District Court decision on March 19. The ruling, which was based partly upon the student unit records ban, denied the Department’s motion to modify the June 2012 decision that found several aspects of the GE regulations were unlawful. The decision does not impact the disclosure requirements currently in effect.

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    • Government Shutdown Averted; TA Benefits Reinstated

      Congress sent to the President a continuing resolution that heads off a government shutdown and funds all agencies through September 30. The bill also overrides decisions by the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps to suspend the DOD Tuition Assistance programs, although there will be program cuts. While Pell Grants will be protected from sequestration cuts, other student aid programs will take a hit, with funding cut back to FY 2012 levels minus five percent.

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    • House and Senate Lay Out Budget Plans for FY 2014

      The most recent round of budgetary political football began on March 13, as both the House and Senate Budget Committees released their plans for the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.  The House vision includes significant modifications to the Pell Grant program, an end to in-school interest subsidy for undergraduate loans, and a change in how the government calculates the cost of student loans - for a potentially serious impact on future student aid programs. The kinder, gentler Senate plan is light on details, but “seeks to expand access to college for all Americans,” while retaining loan subsidies and Pell Grants. 

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    • House Committee Considers Wide Range of Student Loan Issues

      A recently well-attended hearing of the House Education and the Workforce Committee covered a wide range of student loan issues, from returning to variable-rate interest loans and expanding income-based repayment plans, to limiting the amounts certain students can borrow in an effort to reduce defaults. Add to that a lively discussion on the methodology for determining the cost of student loan subsidies, and there was something for just about everyone to debate.

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  • March 12, 2013
    • Cantor Remarks Bolster Measuring Colleges’ Success Via Graduates’ Earnings

      Efforts to link assessment of a college program’s value to the amount of money its graduates make gained momentum last month. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), in an address to the American Enterprise Institute, lauded legislative efforts by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to collect and publish information about the average earnings of college graduates. Cantor’s endorsement adds a new sense of urgency to the legislation, suggesting it could move through Congress more quickly than expected -- perhaps as soon as this spring. NAICU members with concerns about the concept should express those concerns to their senators and representatives.

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    • Changes for Teacher Education Brewing in March and April

      After nearly a year of silence on assessment of teacher education programs by the federal government, rumors suggest that efforts to measure teacher education program quality by unproven yardsticks – such as the value-added testing systems of K-12 schools – may emerge on several fronts this spring. Colleges with teacher preparation programs will need to carefully track and quickly react to these initiatives, coming from both within and outside the administration, if they want to influence the movement. 

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    • Charitable Tax Incentives Discussed at House Hearing

      Although no specific tax legislation affecting charitable giving incentives is being planned, more than 40 witnesses representing a variety of non-profits - including NAICU - testified about tax incentives for charitable giving at the February 14 hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee. The hearing was the latest in a series that began last year to examine the possible impacts of any major tax reform.

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    • Colleges Must Rewrite Sexual Assault Policies And Procedures Under HEA Amendment

      Colleges must rewrite their sexual assault policies and procedures under provisions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, signed into law on March 7. That law, which amends the campus crime provisions of the Higher Education Act, also expands the information colleges must incorporate into their annual crime reports.

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    • Dept. Ed. Reminder: July 1 Is Final Deadline To Comply With State Authorization Regs

      The deadline for complying with state authorization regulations is July 1, 2013. The regulations require that a college or university be "established by name" as a postsecondary educational institution by a state. Each state must have a process to review and appropriately act upon any complaints about such an institution. Also, each institution must disclose to students and prospective students the procedures for filing complaints with an accreditor, a state approval or licensing agency, and any other appropriate state agency.

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    • Does the White House “College Scorecard" Need Fine Tuning?

      In February, the White House unveiled its new College Scorecard website, the administration’s effort to provide more targeted and streamlined one-stop consumer information to aid in choosing a college. Better college-choice information for students and parents is welcome. However, the College Scorecard has drawn some criticism and concern from NAICU members because of its overemphasis on narrow return-on-investment measures that ignore the role of these institutions in shaping leaders, building an informed citizenry, and fostering service to society.

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    • From Defining “Value” to New Accreditation Role for The Feds: Awaiting Details On President’s SOTU Proposals

      President Obama gave his State of the Union Address on February 12, but we have heard little additional the details on his proposals. That may most likely come when the President’s FY 2014 budget is released around April 8. Of those proposals affecting higher education, the one considered most controversial by the higher education community would be a new role for the federal government as an alternate accreditor – a move that would upend the traditional relationship between the federal government, curriculum control, and the independence of colleges.

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    • Gates Papers on Higher Education Act Rewrite Are Emerging; Comments Sought

      Last fall, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded grants commissioning papers on rethinking federal student aid in anticipation of a congressional rewrite of the Higher Education Act. Those papers are now being submitted. While most are unlikely to gain serious consideration, a few are likely to impact the HEA reauthorization discussions. NAICU welcomes members’ comments on the papers, along with other ideas on reauthorization.

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    • HHS Issues Final Regs in Response to Concerns about Student Health Insurance Costs

      The higher education community expressed concerns late last year that new market rules under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would significantly raise student health insurance premiums. Now the Department of Health and Human Services has responded to these concerns with final regulations that reflect the issues raised by NAICU and others in the higher education community, and should lessen anticipated premium increases.

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    • Sequestration Hits, First on the Student Aid Chopping Block are Programs for Military and Teachers. . .

      Sequestration – that unthinkable last resort passed by Congress in August 2011 – took effect on March 1. But the sky didn’t fall, and the government didn’t shut down. Yet. Federal agencies are just now releasing information about how the across-the-board cut will be implemented – ultimately entailing decisions affecting real people and programs. Now in early March, some real-world specifics on student aid are emerging, with much more to come.

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  • January 7, 2013
    • Fiscal Cliff Notes for Higher Education

      President Obama has signed the fiscal cliff agreement approved by the Senate and House earlier this week. There are some extraordinary tax victories for higher education in this deal, as well as some overall limits on deductions that NAICU will be studying more closely. But the agreement leaves unresolved the broader federal budget cuts which were set to go into effect January 3, reducing and delaying them until March. And more drama lies ahead, as conservatives upset with the deal now threaten a federal government shutdown if further spending cuts aren't made.

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    • GI Bill Updates

      Recent weeks have seen a number of developments relating to veteran students, including a new law that will require colleges to provide additional consumer information, guidance for colleges on dealing with recent delays in veterans' benefits payments, and the announcement of maximum tuition and fees to be paid to private colleges for the coming academic year.

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  • December 12, 2012
    • Countdown to the Fiscal Cliff

      Congress and the White House continue to play out the theatrics of exchanging offers to avoid the year-end “fiscal cliff,” then publicly rejecting them. Meanwhile off stage, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner carry on private conversations and continue to seek common ground. What’s at stake for higher education?  Expiration of many significant higher education tax benefits; cuts to student aid funding; and cuts to research funding are all at risk.  And while Pell Grants would be unaffected, all other student aid would be cut by eight percent, and loans would cost more.

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    • Defense Dept. Issues Final MOU on Tuition Assistance Program

      The Department of Defense has issued the final version of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) institutions must sign in order to participate in the DOD’s Tuition Assistance program. The Department revised the original version of the MOU after a number of institutions raised both administrative and academic concerns about it - especially provisions that were inconsistent with the established academic practices of many institutions. The much-improved final version was released on December 7.

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    • Institutions Must Update Gainful Employment Disclosures

      The Department of Education has confirmed that, even though court action this summer vacated some gainful employment provisions, colleges still must update their gainful employment annual disclosures.  Here's some guidance on navigating the confusing gainful employment path.

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  • October 16, 2012
    • Enrollment at Independent Institutions Grew in 2011, Bucking National Trend

      Enrollment at private nonprofit colleges and universities increased 1.9 percent last year (from 3.88 million in 2010 to 3.95 million in 2011), while total postsecondary enrollment in the United States declined slightly for the first time in 15 years, by 0.2 percent (from 21.59 million to 21.54 million), according to new preliminary data released this month by the U.S. Department of Education. The number of students attending public institutions dipped 0.3 percent, while enrollment at for-profit colleges dropped 2.9 percent.

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    • IRS Clarifies New ITIN Requirements for SEVIS Students

      The IRS has clarified new requirements for issuing Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITINs), following several productive conference calls between the agency, NAICU, and several NAICU member institutions. The IRS requirements, published in June, would have been extremely problematic for colleges and universities with large international populations. The IRS’s new notice effectively allows students already studying in the U.S. under the SEVIS system to obtain an ITIN through a streamlined process.

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    • Loan Default Rates, PLUS Loan Denials Both Rise

      The official overall two-year student loan default rate rose to 9.1 percent for the FY 2010 cohort, up from 8.8 percent for FY 2009, according to data released by the Department of Education in September.

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    • Private College Tuition Increases Slow to Lowest Rate in at Least Four Decades

      Published tuition and fees at the nation’s private nonprofit colleges and universities rose 3.9 percent for the 2012-13 academic year, the lowest rate in at least four decades, according to a new NAICU survey. At the same time, institutional student aid budgets at private colleges increased an average of 6.2 percent for 2012-13.

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  • September 26, 2012
    • A Teacher Ed Bill That Starts to Make Sense

      Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) have introduced the Educator Preparation Reform Act of 2012 to improve quality and accountability for educator preparation programs. NAICU supports the legislation, and has worked closely with Reed to ensure that colleges' teacher preparation experts will have a voice in teacher education reform conversations likely to take place next year, as part of the Higher Education Act reauthorization.

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    • College Data Identified as Key HEA Reauthorization Issue by House Committee

      A recent House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training hearing looked at college data issues, and began laying the groundwork for the Higher Education Act reauthorization slated for the next Congress. Speaking on NAICU's behalf, Tracy Fitzsimmons, president of Shenandoah University and NAICU board member, called the subcommittee's attention to the extensive data that colleges already provide, and cautioned against using just a few data points to evaluate an institution's effectiveness.

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    • Congress Has Left the Building

      Back in town for two weeks after its summer break, Congress has taken an early adjournment to get home for campaigning.  Before leaving September 22, though, they passed a continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded to March 27, averting a possible government shutdown.  Now the Department of Education has 30 days to decide spending levels under the six-month CR, and that spending plan will establish student aid funding levels for the 2013-14 award year.

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    • Dept. Ed. Labor Day “Shopping Sheet” Reminder

      An August 30 Department of Education "Dear Colleague" letter reminds colleges of “their commitment to use the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet” if they had agreed to comply with the principles of excellence in serving service members, veterans, and their families, contained in Executive Order 13607. The letter also appears to serve as encouragement for colleges generally to use the Shopping Sheet, which was designed to allow comparison of financial aid offers through standardized information.

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    • Dept. Ed. Looking for Promising College Completion Strategies

      The Department of Education has reopened a request for information on promising and practical strategies to increase postsecondary success. In the first round, which began last January, the Department received responses from 75 organizations, and now wants to build on that base with a second round of submittals to be gathered through November.  NAICU encourages members to participate in the effort, which closely parallels the association's Building Blocks to 2020 initiative.

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    • Financial Aid Briefs

      A new restriction on Pell Grant time limits - now 12 semesters instead of the previous 18, is causing problems for some students.  A NASFAA poll shows that a majority of institutions aren't offering additional aid to those students who have reach the new Pell "Lifetime Eligibility Used" limit. And an update of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureaus first report on private student loans raises some red flags.

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    • Hearing Looks at Both Sides of Graduate Student Unionization

      A September 12 joint subcommittee hearing to examine the role of the National Labor Relations Board in academe predictably broke along party lines - with Democrats defending the right to unionize, and Republicans questioning the NLRB's overreach.  While the NLRB hasn't issued any new rulings on graduate students' rights to organize at private colleges, there are hints that they might revise past rulings, making this once again a timely topic.

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    • HELP Hearing Offers HEA Reauthorization Preview

      The recent hearing on college affordability by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee featured panelists from state higher education organizations, and the discussion focused on issues in state funding of higher education. Still, the reforms suggested would have implications for private nonprofit colleges as well -- and offered an early hint at what could be in store for all colleges in the next reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

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    • New IRS Requirement Affecting International Students

      The IRS has announced rules for more rigorous documentation before issuing Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, required for taxpayers not eligible for a Social Security Number - a change affecting many international students.  NAICU and member institutions have been working with the IRS on instead accepting the already existing records on these students in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.  NAICU now is awaiting word as to whether the IRS will make an exception for international students already enrolled in the SEVIS system.

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    • Sequestration: Congress Deals with Buyer's Remorse

      Congress has gone home for six weeks of campaigning, but the spectre of sequestration looms large.  As January 3 – the sequestration trigger day - draws closer, the hand-wringing continues in all quarters of the nation's capital.  The heart of the problem is, though, that all parties agreed to the measure a year ago, but now see how damaging the dramatic cuts would be to defense and nondefense programs alike.  So everyone wants to figure out a way to undo it.  But they can’t.

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    • Veteran Data Bills Advance Through Congress

      Amid concerns that veteran students don't have the information they need to make the most of their GI Bill benefits, both the House and Senate are working on proposals that would require additional consumer disclosures to these students. It's a worthy objective. Unfortunately, because of the level of detail the Senate bill calls for, the additional disclosures are more likely to overwhelm than help veterans in making their college decisions. The House bill avoids many of the Senate excesses, but still is not without its problems.

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  • August 30, 2012
    • HED Request for Applications - South Sudan Program

      Higher Education for Development is issuing a request for applications for the South Sudan Higher Education Initiative for Equity and Leadership Development (SSHIELD) Program.  HED expects to make one award of up to $ 4,275,000, for two and a half years for a higher education partnership to support South Sudanese national and local development goals that promote gender equality and female empowerment within the education sector. The application deadline is October 15.

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    • New FAFSA Verification Processes Hit a Snag

      A new requirement for students whose application for federal student aid is tagged for verification was meant to make for a more efficient process, but is causing problems instead - particularly for low-income students who have inconsistent access to the Internet.  NAICU is asking for feedback from its members if their students are facing issues with the new process.

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    • U.S. Immigration Outlines New Deferred Action Process

      A recent conference call for educators by the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, and information on the USCIS website offer guidance on the new deferred action process for those who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children. Officials expect that many candidates for the process are likely to approach colleges for the documentation they will need as a part of their application.

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    • Your Vote, Your Voice: Campaign 2012 Update

      In each federal election since 1996, Your Vote, Your Voice has been spearheaded by NAICU on behalf of 50 higher education associations.  This year's effort features an enhanced website for state-specific online voter registration and requests for absentee ballots.  Members are encouraged to plan, and then report on National Voter Registration Day activities September 25.  And we salute the five NAICU member institutions involved in this year's presidential debates.

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  • August 6, 2012
    • Constitution Day and Rosh Hashanah

      This year, Constitution Day, September 17, falls on Rosh Hashanah. While no official statement has been made, sources at the Department of Education have informally indicated that the "holiday" exception would be applicable pursuant to the federal requirement that educational institutions recognize this day.  Accordingly, Constitution Day observances can occur during either the weeks of September 10 or September 17 and be compliant with the law.

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    • Dept. Ed. Issues Additional Guidance on State Authorization

      In a “Dear Colleague” letter issued July 27, the Department of Education provided additional clarification of several aspects of the state authorization regulations published on October 29, 2010.  The most significant news in the letter is that the Department plans to not enforce the distance education provisions of the regulation. This news, while welcome, doesn't put the issue entirely to rest.

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    • Much Ado About Nothing: Congress Leaves Town Without Tax Extender Action

      The past couple weeks saw a flurry of House and Senate activity on bills that would temporarily extend a host of already-expired or expiring tax benefits - including many important to college students and their families. However, when the dust settled and Congress adjourned for its August recess, no final agreement had been reached. More work on the tax extenders will likely occur in the "lame duck" session following the November elections.

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    • No Shutdown Showdown This Year

      Shortly before their August recess began, congressional leaders reached agreement on a $1.047 trillion, six-month continuing resolution to avoid government shutdown politics this fall going into the elections.  Staff will work on the details over the August recess so that members can vote on the agreement when they return in early September. As details of the final CR emerge, it will be important to watch how Pell Grant funding is handled to avoid a shortfall for the 2013-14 award year - and also keep in mind the possibility of game-changing cuts under sequestration.

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  • July 27, 2012
    • Administration Promotes “Shopping Sheet” as Standardized Student Aid Award Letter

      The Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have released their “Shopping Sheet,” a form intended to give prospective students and their families standardized information on colleges’ student financial aid awards. While adoption of the form is voluntary, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has sent an open letter urging college presidents to use the new form for the 2013-14 academic year. Also, institutions signing the Veterans Administration “Principles of Excellence” will have committed to using the form with their military and veteran students.

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  • July 23, 2012
    • Congressional Committees Again Look at College Costs

      Last week, committees in both the House and Senate held hearings on college costs. The July 18 hearing of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training focused on state efforts to control rising costs. A day later, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions heard from witnesses regarding “promising policies and practices” for promoting college affordability.

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    • Department Publishes Proposed Regulations on Loan Repayment

      The Department of Education has published proposed rules intended to “clean up” out-of-date FFELP regulations, and at the same time standardize the regulations for various Title IV loan programs, expanding and improving low-income borrowers' repayment options.  Notice of the proposed rule-making was published on July 17, and comments are due by August 16.

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    • Departments of Veterans Affairs, Education Continue Implementation of “Principles of Excellence”

      The Department of Education has issued guidance on the “Principles of Excellence” it is asking institutions to agree to as part of serving military service members and veterans. Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs has posted the names of the institutions agreeing to the principles on its website.

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    • Gainful Employment Requirements, Post-Court Ruling

      The Department of Education published clarification on colleges’ regulatory requirements following the June 30 decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. While the court upheld the Department’s authority to regulate in this area, the decision vacates most of the provisions of the gainful employment regulations, several of which were to go into effect on July 1. Basically, institutions should follow guidance in the relevant regulations as they were in effect prior to July 1, 2012.

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    • Sequestration, Tax Increases, and Shutdowns, Oh My!

      As Congress winds down its last two weeks of work before a five-week break, the inside-the-Beltway media are cranking out stories about the looming “fiscal cliff.”  That's the point at the end of this year when the Bush-era tax cuts expire, sequestration  automatically cuts $1.2 trillion from the budget, and the FY 2013 spending bills are expected to be done.  For months the assumption was that this would be classic political brinksmanship.  But what if Congress actually does go off that cliff?

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  • July 5, 2012
    • “Your Vote, Your Voice” Returns for the 2012 Elections

      Your Vote, Your Voice has now been launched for the 2012 presidential and congressional elections. The campaign - coordinated by NAICU on behalf of all of U.S. higher education - encourages campuses across the nation to engage in voter education, registration, and get-out-the-vote activities this election year - primarily during the fall semester, leading up to Election Day, November 6.  Visit the Your Vote, Your Voice website for resources and information on planning campus activities. 

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    • 225th Anniversary of Our Nation’s Constitution

      September 17, 2012, will mark the 225th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. This is a mid-summer reminder to make plans to recognize Constitution Day on your campus. Federal legislation mandates that educational institutions receiving federal funds must hold an educational program on the U.S. Constitution on Sept 17 each year.  The federal provision doesn't define "educational program," meaning that colleges and universities have latitude in how they recognize the day.

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    • Congress Okays Lower Interest Rate for Subsidized Loans

      Just before exiting for the July 4 recess, Congress finalized a one-year extension of the 3.4 percent interest rate for subsidized student loans, as well as flood insurance provisions, by rolling them into the highway bill.  The legislation benefits about 7 million students.

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    • Court Rules Against Portion of Gainful Employment Rule

      The U. S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled against key portions of the Department of Education's Gainful Employment regulation, only hours before its July 1 effective date.  While the for-profit colleges - which brought the case to court - were gleeful in victory, it's not clear that the court ruling will help them in the long run.  Much will depend on what next steps the Department chooses to pursue.

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    • Deadlines Approaching for HED Funding Opportunities

      The submissions for two of Higher Education for Development's requests for applications are rapidly approaching. Details on both projects are available on the HED website. Applications are due Monday, July 9, for the Rwanda: Women's Leadership Program in Education (2012). The deadline for the Colombia-U.S. Human Rights Law School Partnership Program (2012) applications is Monday, July 23.

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    • VA Extends "Principles of Excellence" Deadline to August 1

      The Department of Veterans Affairs has extended to August 1 the deadline for institutions to indicate their acceptance of the VA’s Principles of Excellence outlined in Executive Order 13607.  The VA has sent a letter to institutions informing them of the delay.  In the meantime, the VA is working with the Departments of Education and Defense to develop and disseminate guidance on complying with the principles.

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  • June 22, 2012
    • AGB Renews Efforts on SEC Proposed Rules

      In early 2011 the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed rules that would require broadly-defined "municipal advisors" to register with the SEC and comply with new record-keeping requirements. At the time, the Association of Governing Boards and others in the higher education community strongly opposed including college and university trustees and others under that definition.  Now it appears the SEC may issue final rules later this year, and the AGB is asking individual institutions to restate their concerns - both to the SEC directly, and to their members of Congress.

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    • Senate Education Funding Bill Supports Pell Max, Hints at HEA Reauthorization

      The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its 2013 fiscal year education funding bill (which covers the 2013-14 academic year) on June 14. The bill provides funding for a Pell Grant maximum of $5,635 (maintaining a commitment to a scheduled $85 increase, through three significant student aid program changes that save money), while continuing current spending levels for all other student aid programs.  The bill also includes several provisions aimed at tackling abuse in the student aid programs, and provides some long-awaited funding for a study on deregulation of colleges.

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    • VA Urged to Provide More Clarity in “Principles of Excellence” Request

      Today, NAICU has joined others in the Washington higher education community in requesting clarification of several aspects of the “principles of excellence” that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has asked institutions to endorse by June 30.

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  • June 12, 2012
    • Administration Pursues Standardizing Student Aid Award Letters

      In its continuing effort to provide students with comparable student aid information, the White House recently held a meeting with leaders of ten colleges and university systems to explore standardizing the information they provide to students in their financial award letters. This emphasis on transparency and disclosure grows out of the administration's concerns about college cost and student debt, plus the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 mandated that the Department of Education review the issue.

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    • Developments in Distance Education

      Developments in distance education include an appeals court upholding a district court ruling in 2011 that had struck down, on procedural grounds, the Department of Education's  distance education portion of its state authorization regulations; the recent release of a draft State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, now open for public comment; and a newly-formed Commission on Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education.

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    • The Interest Rate Dance Begins in Earnest

      For several months now, it's been clear that that the approaching interest rate jump on subsidized student loans was going to be a major election year issue. Both President Obama and presumptive Republican party nominee Mitt Romney agree that the rate increase should not go into effect as scheduled on July 1. This has moved the debate to how to pay for continuing the current rate, and after trading shots, the House and Senate may be inching toward a bipartisan solution before the end of the month.

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    • VA Asks Colleges to Endorse "Principles of Excellence"

      The Department of Veterans Affairs has requested that institutions offering VA educational benefits commit, by June 30, to the principles of excellence outlined in a recent executive order.  However, beyond the general language of the executive order, the VA hasn't provided a detailed explanation of its expectations for institutions agreeing to the principles. And it now looks like many of those details won't be available until after the June 30 deadline.  NAICU has concerns.

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  • May 14, 2012
    • Gainful Employment Complexity Grows with New Department Announcement

      Under a Department of Education announcement issued last August, preparatory programs were exempted from gainful employment eligibility requirements for Title IV student aid - whether or not a credential was awarded under such programs.  Now, in a new announcement, the Department is making a distinction.   If no credential is awarded for completion of a preparatory program, it remains exempt from gainful employment, but if a credential is awarded the preparatory program then is considered a gainful employment program.

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    • HED Women's Leadership Grants

      Updates on Higher Education for Development's requests for grant proposals to promote education and leadership activities for women in developing countries have recently been posted on the HED website. Applications for previously announced grants in Rwanda, Paraguay, and Armenia are due in June. The requirements for the Rwanda and Paraguay grants have been modified slightly. No request for application has been posted for South Sudan, the fourth country included in the overall program.

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    • Last Call for 2012-13 Yellow Ribbon Agreements

      A final reminder, following up on our message to all NAICU member presidents last week:  the deadline for submitting Yellow Ribbon program agreements for participation in the program during the 2012-13 academic is this Tuesday, May 15.  In the past, some institutions lost eligibility for the program because they didn't realize they had to submit a new agreement each year.  

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    • President Issues Executive Order on Higher Ed Service to Military

      President Obama has issued an executive order outlining several steps the administration will take to help assure that educational institutions appropriately serve veterans and other military-related college students. A major focus of the order is combatting fraudulent and deceptive recruitment practices targeted to these students. It also focuses on the need for all institutions serving GI-Bill and other military-related education benefit recipients to provide appropriate information and support. The House Committee on Veterans Affairs will hold a hearing on the executive order on May 16.

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    • Senate Fails to Consider Student Loan Interest Fix

      Senate Democrats attempted on May 8 to gain floor consideration of a bill extending the 3.4 percent interest rate on subsidized student loans for one year, but they were unable to get Republicans to consider their version of the bill.  Leaders of both parties agree that the interest rate should not revert to 6.8 percent on July 1, as will happen automatically if no action is taken to prevent it.  But a bi-partisan approach on funding the extension of the reduced rate will have to be reached before the end of June.

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    • Too Much (Bad) Information

      Consumer information is the newest frontier in the national conversation on college affordability. Recently the administration has offered beta versions of three new tools.  While more and better information on choosing a college is a worthy goal, these new efforts are seriously flawed, in NAICU's view.

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  • April 9, 2012
    • Bill Would Call for Additional Counseling on Private Loans

      A new bill introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) would require colleges to provide additional counseling to students on terms and conditions of private student loans, and also would require colleges to confirm the student's enrollment status, cost of attendance, and estimated federal financial aid before a private loan would be approved. Private lending institutions would likewise be required to obtain such information.

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    • HED to Fund Partnerships on Women in Agriculture

      Higher Education for Development has announced a competition for a grant to fund a partnership between a U.S. college, or consortium of colleges, and the Faculty of Agriculture at the National University of Rwanda, in Butare. The grant seeks to increase Rwandan women's access to advanced degrees in agricultural sciences, and to improve their role and influence in the agriculture sector. HED is conducting an online information session 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT on April 17.

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    • Institutional Gainful Employment Rates to Be Released

      The Department of Education has announced that this spring it will publicly release the 2011 institutional Gainful Employment Informational Rates. The 2011 rates will not, however, result in any sanctions. Institutions can directly receive GE notification packages that include GE rates and back-up data by having their "primary destination point administrator" sign up via the SAIG Enrollment Web site by April 27. Most, but not all, of an institution's GE information will be available on-line later.

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    • Loan Neg-Reg Completes Spring Cleaning

      The Department of Education's negotiated rule-making panel on student loans completed its work in late March, and agreed upon enhanced consumer protections in the income-based repayment plan (IBR), as well as changes to the current and more flexible income-contingent repayment plan (ICR).  The changes to the ICR plan would enable borrowers to receive more generous benefits a year earlier - July 2013 - than they could under the IBR plan.

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    • Teacher Ed Negotiators Hit a Roadblock

      Disagreements, simmering since negotiated rulemaking on teacher education began in January, led to a stalemate at the final scheduled session at the U. S. Department of Education last week. The uncertainty forced the Department to schedule an additional conference with the negotiators via webinar later this week.

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    • Yellow Ribbon Agreements Due by May 15

      The Department of Veterans Affairs has now released the program agreement that must be signed by institutions wishing to participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program during the 2012-13 academic year. The signed agreements are due no later than May 15, 2012.  The Yellow Ribbon Program provides a dollar-for-dollar match of funds an institution provides to cover all or a portion of the difference between the institution's tuition and fees and the amount covered by the GI Bill.

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  • March 26, 2012
  • March 13, 2012
    • House Bill Would Make Sec. 127 Benefit Permanent

      H.R. 4137, introduced in the House on March 5, would make the important Sec. 127 tax benefit for working students a permanent part of law. This benefit has been a temporary expiring provision since 1978.  Under current law, Sec. 127 is set to expire on December 31, 2012. The Sec. 127 Coalition is advocating that the provision be made permanent rather than merely extended.

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    • House Supports Repeal of Credit Hour/State Authorization Regs

      By a wide bipartisan margin, the House of Representatives approved legislation to repeal the state authorization (including distance education provisions) and federal credit-hour definition regulations issued by the Department of Education in October 2010.  NAICU strongly and actively supported this legislation, and many NAICU members offered support by calling their representatives.  The measure now goes to the Senate, where its passage is less certain.

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    • International Student Recruitment Commission Meets in D.C.

      Out of concerns about incentive compensation for recruiters of international students, the National Association for College Admission Counseling recently convened a commission of college admissions and international education experts to consider its current position on the issue. The association now bans incentive compensation, but with growing interesting in international recruitment, some NACAC members sought clarification on whether this ban applied to international recruitment. Until the commission completes its work late next year, NACAC will keep the ban in place, but will not sanction any violators.

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    • NAICU to Participate in Higher Education Compliance Alliance

      Compliance efforts tax the resources of all institutions as they seek to manage their ever growing regulatory workload.  Help may now be a click away with the March 1 announcement by the National Association of College and University Attorneys of the Higher Education Compliance Alliance. The alliance is a new online resource to assist institutions in finding their way through the terrain of federal laws and regulations. NAICU is among the nearly two dozen higher education organizations participating in this effort.

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    • Round Two of Teacher Neg Reg

      The first meeting of the Department of Education rulemaking panel on teacher education in January was largely characterized by negotiators holding their cards. In February's second session, though, deliberations got much more serious as the "neg reg" negotiators began to address issues with potentially major implications. Much is at stake for colleges with teacher education programs, and for classroom teachers as the final rules could define how states will be required to evaluate their performance.

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  • February 16, 2012
    • Davidson President Testifies Before Senate College Affordability Committee

      An early-February hearing on college affordability offered an opportunity for Davidson College's president to take Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions members under the hood of The Davidson Trust, which offers "no-loans" financial aid packages in meeting students' demonstrated need.

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    • President's Budget Increases Student Aid, Hints at HEA Reauthorization

      After the roll-out of the administration's college affordability proposal on January 27, there were no big surprises in the President's FY 2013 budget, released February 13.  In general, the President's budget slightly increases or level funds the core student aid programs.  At the same time, it lays out some broader reform ideas for higher education that are more likely to be addressed in the next reauthorization of the Higher Education Act - rather than be implemented in an election year by a Congress in virtual stalemate.

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    • Teacher Prep a Big Focus of President's Budget

      In the administration and on the Hill, there are lots of moving parts on teacher education. Congress is currently working on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Across town, the Department of Education is trying to promulgate regulations on teacher quality. And now out of the White House comes the President's FY 2013 budget, which proposes to reform teacher preparation through billions of dollars in K-12 and higher education funds.

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    • Tentative Payroll Tax Agreement Doesn't Include Extenders

      The tentative deal between House and Senate leaders to extend the payroll tax break is getting major media coverage.  Less often mentioned, however, is that the anticipated bill doesn't appear to roll in the extension of a set of expired tax breaks important to higher education - including the IRA charitable rollover and tuition deduction.  The best guess is that addressing the already expired 2011 tax benefits will be shelved until late this year, to be considered when Congress looks at a larger list of expiring 2012 provisions.

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    • White House Seeking Comment on New "College Scorecard"

      Once again, federal policymakers are searching for a simple consumer information tool to assist students and parents in selecting a college.  This time it's a "College Scorecard" with information on a college's costs, graduation rate, student loan repayment and debt, and graduates' earnings potential - as well as comparative graphs on how the college compares to its peers in each area.   A page on the White House website displays a preliminary prototype for the scorecard, and invites comments and suggestions.

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  • January 25, 2012
    • Borrowers to Be Contacted on Loan Consolidation

      January 17 certain Federal Student Loan servicers began contacting borrowers eligible to consolidate their loans under a Special Direct Consolidation Loan program. This new, short-term opportunity is part of President Obama's initiative to reduce borrowers' cost of repaying student loans. The program is available to borrowers who meet certain conditions, and they must apply by June 30.

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    • NAFSA Advises Importance of SEVIS Recertification

      NAICU is working with NAFSA: Association of International Educators, to spread the word about the importance of knowing the details of the bi-annual recertification process each college and university must complete to protect the international students enrolled at your institution.  We encourage you to review products offered by NAFSA like the NAFSA Adviser's Manual that describes and explains the immigration rules and procedures that affect your ability to enroll international students, faculty, and researchers at your institution.

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    • Payroll Tax Cut Extension Tops Congressional Agenda

      A number of tax extenders - some of major importance to higher education - were considered during negotiations on the year-end bill extending the payroll tax cut, but ultimately weren't added to the final agreement.  Now in the new session of Congress, the provisions - which include the IRA charitable rollover and deduction for higher education expenses - could be added to the next extension of the payroll tax cut, if Congress is able to agree to a one year extension, and if both the House and Senate agree on expanding the scope of the bill.

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    • Pell Grant 2012-13 Payment Schedule Released

      The Department of Education has now published the 2012-13 Federal Pell Grant Payment and Disbursement Schedules. The maximum Pell Grant for the 2012-13 award year remains $5,550, and in most cases, a student's Expected Family Contribution will be unchanged.  However, modification of the way minimum Pell Grants are determined will mean that students with eligibility below 10 percent of the maximum grant will now receive no award at all.

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    • Refining Gainful Employment

      It's back!!  Since we last reported in the fall of 2011, the Department has issued several more electronic announcements and a correction to the final regulations on "gainful employment." Largely, the announcements have dealt with reporting data to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) and making corrections to that data.

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    • Student Loan Negotiated Rule-making: The Progress to Date

      The first of three Department of Education sessions to develop student loan regulations was largely devoted to technical issues. Still the early-January sessions did address the Department's intent to make regulatory changes to the income-contingent repayment (ICR) and the income-based repayment (IBR) plans.  Additional meetings are scheduled for February and March.

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    • Teacher Ed Reform: Can They Do That?

      The first session of the rulemaking panel on teacher preparation programs under the Higher Education Act took place in at the U. S. Department of Education offices last week.  Negotiators questioned whether, in fact, the Department had the authority to dictate states' oversight of their teacher education programs.

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    • The State of Union Address: Uncertainty for Colleges

      Some of President Obama's talking points were affirming news for higher education, while others were a stern lecture. While he highlighted the administration's commitment to student aid funding, and praised the affordability efforts of some institutions, he also offered an ominous warning:  "If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down."  Exactly how the rhetoric will translate into action is anyone's guess.  But there are clues.

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    • Upcoming International Grant Opportunity

      Institutions with a particular interest in the Amazon can sign up to be notified by Higher Education for Development about an Andean Amazon request for applications anticipated later this year.  Meanwhile, updates are now available on the HED website for projects in the West Indies, Philippines, and Tunisia.

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  • December 20, 2011
    • Admissions Counselors to Review Recruitment of Foreign Students

      Given the growing number of foreign students attending U.S. colleges in recent years, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling will convene a Commission on International Student Recruitment in 2012 to consider issues relating to their recruitment.  NAICU will participate in the commission, and welcomes members' input on the issue.

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    • College Affordability on Front Burner Once Again

      Driven by stories of large student debt burden and worries about paying for the rapid growth in Pell Grant spending, Congress and the administration have once again set their sights on college affordability.  Policymakers continue to support programs that help students pay for college. At the same time, though, they are likely to up the ante on expectations for the institutions serving those students. Two emerging themes in recent weeks are that colleges, first, must become more "efficient" by fundamentally rethinking how they deliver education; and, second, must offer "proof" of their success in terms of student retention, graduation, and job placement.

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    • Dept. Ed Issues Final FERPA Regulations

      The Department of Education has issued final regulations on the Family Education and Rights and Privacy Act.  Proponents of robust longitudinal data systems have lauded the FERPA expansion as facilitating the tracking of a student's progress from pre-school through college - and perhaps beyond.  Others see the expansion as reducing student privacy, increasing the risk of data breaches, and lessening the control individuals have over their education records.

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    • Education Department Staff to Shrink

      Because of budget cuts, the Department of Education staff will be reduced considerably. That was the message from the Department to the higher education community at a recent meeting. Although there were no total numbers given, it's expected that the Office of Postsecondary Education - the unit responsible for higher education policy - would probably take a 15-percent hit.

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    • International Grant Opportunities

      Higher Education for Development (HED), founded through an agreement with USAID and the six presidential associations which includes NAICU, has recently posted several requests for applications for grants. The grants would fund partnerships between U.S. colleges and universities and those in certain developing countries. Complete application information is available on the HED website.

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    • NACIQI Update

      At its semi-annual meeting, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity divided its time between review of accreditation agencies and discussion of recommendations to Education Secretary Duncan regarding reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.  A clear NACIQI majority supports retaining accreditation as a requirement for federal student aid eligibility, but the committee hasn't yet reached consensus on specific changes that they would like to see made within this framework.

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    • NCLB/ESEA Flop This Session

      Despite months of behind-the-scenes work by House education staff, and the Senate committee mark up of a draft bill, there will be no reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind/Elementary and Secondary Education Act (NCLB/ESEA) this year.  As a result, the full focus for reforming teacher education will now fall on the upcoming Department of Education negotiated rulemaking sessions.  Nonprofit colleges will have representatives at the table, and NAICU is surveying members for guidance on teacher education policy issues.

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    • Update: Payroll Tax Impasse Means No End in Sight for Congress

      There was the hope across Washington that last week's budget deal on spending would mean Congress would adjourn a full week before Christmas. That hope faded, though, when the House reconvened to reject the Senate-passed payroll tax relief extension bill. Earlier, a frenzied week of activity saw student aid spending levels being set, and the Department of Defense offering to revise a controversial new Memorandum of Understanding on higher education benefits for active duty military personnel. Unfortunately, less progress was made on expiring tax provisions also important to higher education.  (Since we initially posted this story on December 20, the House and Senate approved a two month extension of the tax relief provisions on Friday, December 23.)

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  • December 16, 2011
    • $5,550 Pell Maintained for Next Academic Year

      As Congress cuts deals to avoid a government shutdown and go home for the holidays, conferees on student aid spending have agreed to maintain the Pell Grant maximum at $5,550 for the 2012-13 academic year.  To do that, though, has meant some tough choices on Pell eligibility.  Here's a summary of the changes effective next July, as well as a look at some possible further cuts as Congress moves toward adjournment.

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    • Department of Defense Delays MOU Deadline to March 30

      The Department of Defense has announced a delay until March 30, 2012, for implementation of new requirements for participation in its Tuition Assistance program, originally set to become effective January 1.  Many institutions have been reluctant to sign the new agreement, given that some of its terms are inconsistent with their academic practices - particularly regarding decisions on the award of academic credit. The delay provides an opportunity to consider ways to resolve these concerns.

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  • November 22, 2011
    • Super Committee Declares Defeat and Goes Home

      While the budget-cutting possibilities of the Super Committee held promise for weeks, in the end the 12 members threw in the towel and headed for the airport on Monday.  Where does federal budget-cutting - and its potential impact on federal funding for higher education - go from here? There will be more questions than answers when Congress reconvenes after the Thanksgiving break, but here's our best guess as what to expect as Congress hurtles toward the end of an especially dysfunctional session.

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  • November 7, 2011
    • Boren Scholarships and Fellowships: Applications Invited

      Applications for the 2012-13 David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships, as well as the Language Flagship Fellowships, are now available.  Boren Awards provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to study in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.  Deadlines are January 31 for the Boren fellowships and February 9 for the scholarships, and January 12 for the Language Flagship fellowships.

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    • Department Offers New Options for Experimental Sites

      The Department of Education has published a notice inviting institutions to apply to participate in one or more of its experimental sites initiative.  This announcement marks the first time in nearly a decade that the administration has sought to use its authority to grant waivers from specific statutory or regulatory requirements in the administration of Title IV, Higher Education Act programs.  Applications to participate are due by December 12.

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    • Dept. Ed. Sets HEA Title II Negotiated Rulemaking

      The Department of Education has announced the creation of a committee for negotiated rulemaking on elements of Title II of the Higher Education Act, covering such topics as requirements for institutional and state report cards and criteria for state assessment of teacher preparation programs. As part of the announcement, the Department issued a call for nominations of neg-reg panel members - ideally from a wide range of backgrounds.  The nomination deadline is November 25. 

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    • Dept. Ed. Tries Carrot and Stick to Get States' Private College Data

      NAICU has submitted comments in response to a Department of Education notice making extension of a state data reporting deadline contingent on states' reporting of apparently unrelated data on their private colleges. The NAICU letter notes that, under the plan, "the Department is requiring the collection of even more data . . . in effect negating the extension by requiring additional work in exchange for additional time."

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    • Dept. Ed. Warns Colleges About "Straw Students"

      Recently, the Department of Education published a "Dear Colleague Letter" to "address potential fraud in the Federal student aid programs at institutions of higher education that offer distance education programs." The letter was in response to the Department's Office of Inspector General (OIG) report of September 26, 2011, outlining the results of investigations into fraud in distance education programs.

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    • Dept. of Defense Clarifies Tuition Assistance MOU, Delays Benefit Reductions

      Beginning in January 2012, colleges will need to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Defense in order to receive tuition assistance payments on behalf of service members.  The new requirement grows out of broad congressional concerns about the integrity of federal student aid programs. And in a related development, the DoD has at least temporarily backed away from plans to reduce service members' tuition assistance benefit amounts.

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    • Direct Loan Program: Not That Bad

      A late October hearing by a House Education and the Workforce subcommittee looked at the effectiveness and efficiency of the Federal Direct Loan Program. Despite some glitches,  the witnesses - who included representatives from two NAICU institutions - seemed generally satisfied with the transition.

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    • GREAT amendment tweaked but not eliminated from ESEA

      The Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions has passed its reauthorization of the bill formerly known as No Child Left Behind Act with bipartisan support. However, it wasn't smooth sailing through the committee, and it looks like more heavy weather ahead as the reauthorization moves to the Senate floor. Higher education groups are watching closely as the machinations on teacher education unfold.

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    • International Grant Opportunity

      HED (Higher Education for Development), an effort of the six presidential associations including NAICU, has announced plans to make an award of up to $759,000 for three years, to support a regional higher education partnership between one U.S. institution and three to four Latin American universities.  Detailed information is available on the HED website.

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    • Reminder: Gainful Employment Reporting Due November 15

      By November 15, colleges must report information on their gainful employment programs (2006-07 through 2009-10) to the Department of Education.  Schools that don't have gainful employment programs were supposed to inform the Department of that fact by October 1.

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    • Senate Finance Hearing Draws Opposition to Charitable Deduction Cap

      A Senate Finance Committee hearing on incentives for charitable giving took a hard look at the Obama administration's proposal to limit the charitable deduction to 28 percent. The deduction cap was soundly opposed by all participants - the nonprofit executives and think tank representatives who testified, as well as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and other members of the committee.

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    • Some Relief for Some Borrowers: But Don't Call Us, We'll Call You

      President Obama has announced both a plan to reduce the cost of repaying some federal student loans for some borrowers, and a proposal for a model student aid award form to be used by all colleges. The loan plan is complex and likely to generate a great deal of confusion for many students, though it's estimated that as many as 7 million of the federal student loan program's 36 million borrowers could benefit.  The new model financial aid form is a joint effort of the Department of Education and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is seeking comment.

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    • Student Aid Alliance Still Saving Student Aid

      An ambitious Student Aid Alliance campaign to "Save Student Aid," launched October 24, is mobilizing all sectors of higher education in an effort to ensure that the student aid programs remain strong for both current and future students. In under two weeks, more than 50,000 members of campus communities along with concerned citizens had signed the campaign's "Statement of Support."

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  • October 11, 2011
    • Gainful Employment: Lots of Moving Parts

      There have been developments on a number of fronts in recent weeks on the Department of Education's confusing gainful-employment regulations:  a need to report non-existent programs, a reminder of a reporting deadline extension, and some possible relief (eventually) for gainful-employment reporting by most private, nonprofit institutions.

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    • Goucher College President Testifies on Deregulation

      A September 30 hearing of the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance on the need for the federal government to deregulate higher education featured Goucher College President Sanford Ungar as the lead witness.  Ungar also submitted written testimony by NAICU President David Warren for an Advisory Committee session later that day on underserved populations in higher education.

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    • Student Aid Funding Decisions Coming From all Directions

      Preliminary proposals for next year's student aid funding levels have emerged from both the House and Senate, while the "Super Committee" will be looking at both the Pell Grant and student loan programs. Then, in the middle of all this hustle and bustle, comes a surprise announcement from the administration that the Pell Grant program may now be running a surplus. Despite - or maybe as a result of - all this activity, it's still a long road before the ultimate fate of the student aid programs is decided.

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    • Teacher Preparation in the Spotlight

      Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently unveiled a proposal to reform colleges' teacher education programs.  Under the proposal, states would evaluate and act on their teacher preparation programs by rewarding those schools identified as "high-performing"; helping to improve those in the middle; and closing down under-performing programs.  Another troubling feature of the proposal is an attempt to evaluate colleges' programs through the standardized test scores of K-12 students taught by the colleges' graduates.

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  • September 23, 2011
  • September 9, 2011
    • Congress is Back for More Budget Battles

      Congress came back from its summer break to an agenda full of budget issues, and a partisan environment anticipating the 2012 elections. NAICU priorities for student aid funding and higher education tax provisions are in the mix for the major action going into the fall.  Here's an early-September overview of the state of play - in a game that's sure to be fast-changing.

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    • Dept. of Ed. Offers New Info on Recent Regulations

      One thing is for sure . . . the Department of Education's new regulations on state authorization, credit hour, gainful employment, and other rules are keeping a lot of federal workers busy.  New information resources include a Q&A website on program integrity regulations, and the 19th (yes, 19th) clarification on the complex gainful-employment rules.

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    • Identity Crisis?

      The virtually unlimited expansion of web top-level domains - previously confined to a handful of designations such as .com or .edu - presents colleges with more choices and challenges than they may have initially imagined.  Colleges now have the opportunity not only to consider adopting web addresses that better define themselves, but also to consider pre-emptive action blocking those that don't - notably the new .xxx domain designation for "adult" sites.

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    • Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi Must Follow Student Voter Registration Rules This Year

      Three states will have gubernatorial elections this fall:  Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi.  Federal law requires the colleges in these states to make a good-faith effort to distribute state voter registration forms to each degree or certificate-seeking student who attends classes on campus.  Under changes to the law in 2008, e-mail messages with links to the state forms are acceptable in meeting the requirement.

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    • September 17 is Constitution Day

      Since 2005, all colleges and universities receiving federal funds have been required to hold an educational "Constitution Day" program on September 17 each year, commemorating the signing of the Constitution on that date in 1787.  The federal provision doesn't define "educational program," meaning that there is a great deal of latitude in exactly how they choose to recognize the day.  Planning resources are available on line.

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  • July 29, 2011
    • Concerned About For-Profits, Harkin Seeks Solutions

      Continuing his series of public inquiries into the growth and poor student results of for-profit colleges, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, presided over a roundtable of witnesses with various view points on the issue on July 21.  The bottom line:  Harkin intends to make meaningful changes.

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    • Deal or No Deal? - Pell Grants in the Budget Mix

      As Washington hurtles toward August 2, the House and Senate leadership continues to work on a debt ceiling and deficit reduction deal to avert a domestic and global economic crisis.  A key pawn in the negotiations is Pell Grant funding. Plans from both House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Harry Reid include funding for the Pell Grant program for the 2012-13 award year - but no one can be certain how this will all play out as negotiations continue.

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    • Dept. Ed. Issues Guidance on Campus Emergencies

      The Department of Education has issued a document, Addressing Emergencies on Campus, providing guidance to campuses regarding their campus safety policies. The 16-page publication discusses the application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) in emergency situations.   It also includes information about a number of campus security provisions added as part of the Higher Education Act reauthorization in 2008. 

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    • Lots of Failing Grades in NCTQ Student Teaching Report

      Last week, the National Council on Teacher Quality released its most recent study on student teaching, which will feed into NCTQ's bigger rankings project. Few of the programs examined received a passing grade, which has fueled criticism of the group's methodology.  The NCTQ assessment, which looked at the student teacher component across 134 teacher education programs, will be used to determine letter grades to appear in U.S. News and World Report rankings.

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    • Post-9/11 GI Bill "Hold-harmless" Passed by Congress; Moves to President

      Following Senate approval, the House has voted unanimously to approve the "Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011."  The legislation provides a "hold-harmless" for veterans who would otherwise see their Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition-and-fee benefits reduced under legislation enacted last December.  While most veterans will receive increased benefits as a result of the December changes, those in seven states would have faced reduced benefits without this new legislation. 

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  • July 13, 2011
    • Debt and Deficit: The Silence Behind All the Noise

      This is a town that abhors a vacuum, and tends to fill one with news conferences and media interviews. But as the federal budget and debt ceiling debate plays out through dueling sound bites, the fact is there is little substance to be had. No details are being released on specific program changes across the government. We do know this, though: The student aid programs are still in jeopardy.

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    • NAICU Submits Statement of Support of the DREAM Act

      In connection with a late June Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the DREAM Act, NAICU submitted a statement for the record in support of this important legislation. NAICU has long supported passage of the DREAM Act. Providing citizenship to the undocumented youth in our country who have served in the armed forces or became educated in our colleges and universities should be a priority.

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    • Painful Gainful Employment Hearing

      Members of two House subcommittees joined forces in the most recent debate over the merits of the Department of Education's recent gainful employment regulations on July 8. These regulations have gained the most attention of the 14 regulations being implemented by the Department of Education to gain greater control of for-profit colleges.  The "spirited debate" brought into sharp focus the poles-apart positions of the various committee members, with their views largely splitting along party lines.

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    • State Authorization of Distance Education Vacated by U.S. District Court

      On Tuesday, a U.S. District Court vacated a Department of Education regulation, effective July 1, requiring any institution of higher education offering distance education to students outside its home state to obtain authorization from any state regulating distance education offered to its residents.  Many news reports are viewing the decision as a for-profit victory, but other key elements of the regulation were not affected.  And even if it stands on appeal, it won't negate existing state laws and regulations on distance education. 

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    • Saint Leo President Testifies for NAICU at Post-9/11 GI Bill Hearing

      Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., president of Saint Leo University, testified on behalf of NAICU at the recent hearing of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. The hearing was to consider a proposal to delay payment of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits until after the student completed a term. Nearly 2,800 students at Saint Leo are Post-9/11 GI Bill recipients. Kirk's testimony described the variety of administrative difficulties this change would pose for both institutions and veteran students. The subcommittee also heard from witnesses representing public colleges, veterans, and the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

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    • Senators Urge Repeal of State Authorization, Credit Hour Definition

      Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) have introduced legislation (S. 1297) to repeal the state authorization and credit hour definition provisions - part of the program integrity regulations that went into effect July 1. To date, 11 members of the Senate have signed on to the bill.   NAICU strongly supports this legislation and has asked member presidents to encourage their senators and representatives to cosponsor it.

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    • Teacher Ed Bill Not That "GREAT"

      Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) has introduced the Growing Education Achievement Training Academies for Teachers and Principals Act (GREAT), which would reform teacher preparation programs by allowing states to apply for grants to set up "Teacher and Principal Preparation Academies" - essentially, charter colleges of education.  The higher education community has a number of concerns, with the most basic one being that, in essence, the bill gives states the authority to create an academic credential.

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    • The Confusing Clarifications Continue

      Yet another "clarification" from the Department of Education on July 8, has caused new head-scratching about the already complex and confusing gainful employment regulations. The final regulations themselves were issued in three parts, with the most recent being the metrics or "penalty" rules, coming months after the earlier parts.  But wait . . . there's still more "clarification" on the way.

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  • June 14, 2011
    • Debt of Proprietary School Students Concerns Sen. Harkin

      Likening it to the sub-prime mortgage crisis, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), recently held a hearing in which he grilled witnesses on the disproportionate student loan debt proprietary school students face. Harkin, along with witnesses and the other Democratic members of the committee, acknowledged the key role of the for-profit sector. However, the data presented in the course of the hearing documented the for-profits as the most costly sector for tax-payers and students alike.

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    • Department Pilot Program to Explore Ways to Limit Borrowing

      In her June 9 testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Under Secretary of Education Martha Kantor announced that the Department will soon launch a pilot program allowing institutions to experiment with ways to limit student borrowing. Institutions will have to apply to participate, and efforts to reduce students' debt will be carefully monitored for their effect on student access and success.

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    • Department Seeking GEAR UP Applications

      The Department of Education is now accepting application for new GEAR UP awards for FY 2011, to aid low-income students in graduating from high school and preparing for success in college.  The awards are for partnerships consisting of one or more local educational agencies, and one or more degree-granting institutions of higher education. An estimated 88 awards will be made, with individual awards expected to range from  $100,000 to $7 million.  Applications must be submitted by July 14.

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    • Gainful Employment Final Rule Made Public

      The "metrics" portion of the gainful employment rule has now been published in the Federal Register.  But the rule carries an effective date of July 1, 2012 - with full implementation delayed years beyond that.  The final rule is viewed by many as a step-back from the rule as originally proposed, and a win for the for-profit sector.  The disclosure, reporting, and new program portions of the rules - which also apply to credential programs at non-profit colleges - are effective next month, when institutions must have the required disclosures posted on their websites.

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    • House Bill Would Repeal State Authorization, Credit Hour Definition Provisions

      Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, has introduced legislation to repeal state authorization and credit hour definition provisions slated to go into effect July 1, saying "this heavy-handed regulation threatens to crush the very innovative new programs we need to make education more affordable and efficient."  NAICU applauds this effort, and has asked member presidents to encourage their elected representatives to join as cosponsors of H.R. 2117.

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    • House Unanimously Approves Post-9/11 GI Bill "Hold-harmless" Legislation

      The House of Representatives has approved a bill providing a "hold-harmless" for veterans who would otherwise see their post-9/11 GI Bill tuition-and-fee benefits reduced under legislation enacted last December.  Under the bill, students currently enrolled in private institutions in seven states would be protected from a reduction in their tuition-and-fee benefits over the next three years.  Related legislation has been introduced in the Senate.

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    • IRS Looking at College and University Retirement Plans

      The IRS is starting to explore how well colleges and universities are complying with federal rules on tax-deferred 403(b) retirement plans, using questionnaires sent to a random sampling of 300 institutions nationally.  The concern behind the investigation is that 403(b) plans could inappropriately benefit highly compensated employees.  NAICU is encouraging the selected institutions to respond to the survey, and to let us know that they've been included in the sampling.

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    • Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Announces Grant Opportunity

      The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics has issued a request for proposals to fund research in three areas of intercollegiate athletics for the 2011-12 academic year:  academic integrity and valuable educational experiences for college athletes; fiscal integrity of athletics programs; and presidential and academic authority over the operations of intercollegiate athletics.  Proposals will be funded up to $25,000.  The deadline for submitting proposals is August 5.

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    • NAICU Submits Comments on Proposed FERPA Regulations

      NAICU has submitted comments on proposed changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act regulations, noting the association's historical support of FERPA and its objective of protecting student privacy, and detailing the reasons NAICU believes student privacy protections will be eroded if the proposals are adopted.  The Department of Education is expected to publish final regulations later this year.

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    • NAICU Well-represented at Department Roundtables, Neg Reg Hearings

      With just a few weeks notice, the Department of Education held roundtable discussions and negotiated rulemaking hearings in four cities around the country in May. Despite the last-minute nature of the meetings, NAICU was represented at all but one of the 15 sessions, thanks to the strong support of the NAICUSE state executive network.

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  • May 17, 2011
    • Appropriations Update

      The House Appropriations Committee has released drafts of its FY 2012 allocations for the 12 funding subcommittees in Congress, cutting the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee - which funds all education programs - by $18 billion. Next, the Education Subcommittee is to write its FY 2012 appropriations bill on July 26, with full committee consideration slated for August 2.  Meanwhile, action in the Senate isn't expected until September.

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    • Department Offers Gainful Employment Webinars May 25, 26

      Some non-profit colleges have been misled into believing that the controversial Gainful Employment regulations don't apply to them.  The fact is, however, that all colleges offering credential programs of at least one year in length must have the required disclosures on their website by July 1, and must submit their first report on these programs by October 1.  The Department of Education will offer a 90-minute webinar on the disclosure and reporting requirements on Wednesday, May 25, with a repeat of the webinar on May 26.

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    • FIPSE Cancels FY 2011 Comprehensive Program Competition

      The Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) announced on Thursday that it is canceling the 2011 comprehensive grant competition because of federal budget cutbacks. The application notice for new awards had been posted on line and published in the Federal Register on March 22, but noted that funding for the estimated $20,347,000 in awards was contingent on final congressional action on the federal budget. 

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    • House Committee Approves Post-9/11 GI Bill "Hold-harmless" Legislation

      The House Veterans' Affairs Committee has approved a bill providing a "hold-harmless" for veterans who would otherwise see their post-9/11 GI Bill tuition-and-fee benefits reduced under legislation enacted last December.  That earlier legislation established a $17,500 annual cap on the tuition-and-fee benefits provided to veterans attending private colleges.  While the cap means higher benefits for veterans in many states, veterans in some states will see a reduction without further legislative action.  Parallel legislation is pending in the Senate.

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    • Perkins Scare

      A number of institutions received alarming information recently, when they found that a Department of Education website showed that they had no Perkins allocation for the coming academic year.  Apparently, a glitch in the system erroneously displayed "0" in the institutional "level of expenditure" box on line, leading to the confusion.  The Department has confirmed that the error resulted from some kind of technical malfunction, and that they are looking into it.

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  • May 2, 2011
    • Gainful Employment Reporting Requirements Detailed

      In an April 20 Dear Colleague letter, the Department of Education provides guidance on its new - and controversial - gainful employment requirement. This is part of the final regulations on new fraud and abuse rules issued last October, and it's been mistakenly viewed as largely a for-profit issue. However, the Department estimates that over 80 percent of all institutions have programs falling under the gainful employment regulations - and the regs are effective July 1.

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    • More from ED on Distance Ed State Authorization; NAICU Offers Compliance Help

      Responding to growing concerns about state authorization of distance education programs effective July 1, the Department of Education has issued a second "Dear Colleague" letter on the topic. While the new letter improves upon the earlier version, it fails to dispel concerns about - nor does it justify - federal involvement in this area of state law. NAICU has prepared a background paper to assist institutions in understanding and meeting the requirements of the new regulation.

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    • New Department of Ed Guidance on Sexual Harassment

      The Department of Education has issued detailed new guidance regarding Title IX requirements related to the prevention of sexual harassment on college campuses. The 19-page guidance letter offers detailed instructions to colleges regarding enforcement procedures. It also discusses education and prevention efforts.

       

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    • Oh, No - Not Again!

      The higher education community is still reeling from two recent negotiated rulemaking sessions - one on implementing the 2008 HEA reauthorization and another on limiting student aid fraud and abuse. But the Department had another surprise on April 29: they're planning yet another higher education negotiated rulemaking session in the near future. The subject and purpose of the new neg-reg session? Well, that's a mystery.

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    • Student Aid Funding - Where It Stands, Where It's Headed

      In mid-April Congress passed a final FY 2011 budget deal, resolving student aid funding for the 2011-12 academic year. Now the budget action on the Hill moves to the much tougher lift of reaching agreement on a FY 2012 budget in the face of intense debt-reduction pressures and federal spending constraints. How student aid will fare in those political negotiations should become clear over the summer.

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  • April 11, 2011
    • ED Proposes Regs to Reduce FERPA Privacy Protections

      The Department of Education recently published proposed regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), intended to facilitate sharing of individual students' data far more widely than current law allows.  NAICU is concerned about this ongoing erosion of student data protection, and the direct effects of the proposed regs on private colleges' rights to protect their students' privacy. Comments on the proposal will be accepted by the Department until May 23.

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  • March 23, 2011
    • Accreditation at Center of Harkin For-profit Hearing

      The recent Senate HELP Committee hearing on problems in for-profit education clearly put a target on accreditation, and spotlighted for-profit Ashford University as a noteworthy example of the sector's abuses. In a tense exchange with the chair of the Higher Learning Commission, Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) even drew parallels between accreditors' role in higher education, and that of bond evaluators during the recent subprime crisis in housing.

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    • Department Releases Guidance on State Authorization, Credit Hour, Other Areas

      The Department of Education has released two "Dear Colleague" letters providing further guidance on regulations issued last October.  The first letter deals with state authorization, incentive compensation, and misrepresentation.  The second letter addresses credit hour issues.

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    • Huntington University President Testifies at Hearing on State Authorization and Credit-hour Regs

      Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, Huntington University President Blair Dowden noted that a major problem with a federal definition of a credit hour is that it "inserts the federal government squarely into one of the most sacrosanct elements of higher education."  Dowden also expressed strong concern about the new state authorization requirements, particularly as they might be applied to institutions like Huntington, with a religious mission. 

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    • Tough Calls on Pell Explored in Two House Subcommittee Hearings

      At two recent House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee hearings, the administration defended its Pell Grant Protection Act, submitted to Congress as part of its FY 2012 budget request.  The proposal would maintain the maximum grant at $5,550.  To do that, though, the plan calls for a number of cutbacks in other Pell provisions to rein in the exploding costs of the program, and cut out the in-school interest subsidy on graduate loans.

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  • March 4, 2011
    • Higher Ed, Accreditation Communities Urge Rescission of New State Authorization Regs

      NAICU is among the 60 higher education associations and accrediting organizations urging Education Secretary Arne Duncan to rescind a regulation, to be effective July 1, that expands federal requirements on state authorization.  While the Department has made changes in response to earlier comments by the group, concerns remain about the application of the provisions in general, and their specific application to institutions offering distance education.  The provisions also could be used inappropriately to set up new state oversight of private, not-for-profit colleges.

       

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    • NAICU Joins Community Comments to the SEC on "Municipal Advisor" Proposals

      The Securities and Exchange Commission has proposed rules that would require individuals who fit the broad definition of "municipal advisor" to register with the SEC, and to comply with new record-keeping requirements. During the brief comment period, NAICU joined both the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities and the American Council on Education in submitting letters to the SEC contending that Congress never intended to regulate college and university officials as part of the underlying legislation.

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    • Perkins Loan Program Good Until 2015

      Colleges participating in the Perkins Loan Program received some welcome news when the Department of Education recently announced a liberal interpretation of when the program would terminate if Congress doesn't take action. Under the Department's ruling, the program can continue until as late as September 30, 2015 - the same as for all other student aid programs under the normal reauthorization cycle.  The published interpretation is a welcome relief for institutions that participate in the program.

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    • St. John's, Annapolis, President Testifies at House Committee Hearing on Regulatory Burden

      The House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing March 1 to examine the regulatory burden placed on educational institutions. Christopher Nelson, president of St. John's College, Annapolis, testified on behalf of NAICU, addressing the full range of regulatory challenges facing colleges and universities.  A consistent theme among the witnesses was the extent to which the accumulation of regulatory and reporting requirements diverts attention and resources from the primary mission of educating students.

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    • Two-Week Continuing Resolution Kills LEAP

      Congress has passed, and the president has signed a two-week continuing resolution that will keep the federal government running until March 18.  However, the CR also kills funding for the LEAP state grant program for FY 2011, meaning that LEAP funds won't be available to students at public and private colleges for the 2011-12 academic year.  This modest federal grant funding helps generate over $1 billion in need-based aid nationwide. NAICU and the Student Aid Alliance have asked presidents to activate their campus communities in opposition to the cut. 

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  • February 19, 2011
    • Higher Ed, Accreditation Communities Urge Recission of Federal Credit Hour Definition

      NAICU joined more than 70 higher education associations and accrediting organizations in a February 16 letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, urging that he rescind a regulation that provides a federal definition of "credit hour." Included in regulations issued last October, the definition is scheduled to take effect July 1. The higher education and accreditation communities weighed in strongly against the definition during the public comment period, but the Department still chose to go forward with a definition.

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    • House Sends Drastic Student Aid Cuts to Senate

      After three days of debate, at 4:40 Saturday morning the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution.  The bill makes drastic cuts to the core student aid programs, reducing the Pell Grant maximum by $845 and eliminating all funding for SEOG and LEAP.  If enacted, the provisions would be effective this July 1, resulting in a $4,705 Pell Grant maximum and no SEOG or LEAP funding for the 2011-12 academic year. Following a congressional recess next week, the bill will go to the Senate, where anything could happen.

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    • President's FY 2012 Budget Plan Prioritizes Student Aid

      The FY 2012 budget plan that President Obama sent to Congress February 14 highlights the core student aid programs as a top priority for the nation. In it, he proposes to maintain a Pell Grant maximum of $5,550, as well as current funding levels for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work Study programs. The plan also calls for creation of a new Perkins Loan program to provide additional loans to high performing, low-income students. LEAP state grant funding, however, would be eliminated.

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  • February 11, 2011
    • HHS Announces Proposed Regulations for Student Health Plans

      The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced proposed regulations for student health plans. The proposals are extensive, and exact implications may require additional conversations with the White House and HHS officials.  An early read indicates that the regulations do provide additional guidance on classifications of types of student health plans, and how President Obama's new health law might affect them. However, the effect on self-regulated student health insurance plans is less clear.

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    • Let the Budget Cutting Begin

      Next week the budget cutting will begin at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. The president's budget will be released Monday, highlighting a freeze for the next five years that will save $40 billion. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives will be preparing to vote on its first set of cuts.  Now all the campaign promises are being drafted into legislation, and action is being scheduled in Congress on the first of many spending reduction bills expected this year. Everything is on the table, and student aid funding is not exempt.

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    • NACIQI Begins Special Accreditation Review

      The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) began its year-long review of accreditation practices and policies with a two-day forum in early February.  The overall picture that emerged was that there are a number of problems with the current demands on accreditation, but no clear-cut means for resolving them. Pressure to "do something" will remain, given that accreditors are now pulled between concerns that they are not doing enough to protect taxpayer dollars, and concerns that they are being asked to do too much in the way of federal enforcement.

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    • NAICU Launches Two Task Forces

      NAICU has recently launched two separate task forces - one to review and develop recommendations on the federal financial responsibility test all colleges must undergo annually to remain eligible for federal student aid participation, and the other to look at enhanced coordination between NAICU staff and the National Association of Independent College and University State Executives (NAICUSE) on common issues.  Both first met formally in January, and will continue their work throughout the year.

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    • Program Integrity Regulations Continue to Raise Questions, Concerns

      The program integrity regulations issued by the Department of Education last October continue to generate questions and concerns, and the Department has promised additional guidance.  However, institutions do need to be aware that the October regulations do include a number of new data collection provisions that become effective July 1.  NAICU has prepared a chart summarizing some of the key requirements, and the actions institutions should be taking now to be in compliance.

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    • Red Flag Rule Exemption Unlikely to Include Most Colleges

      Last December, the Red Flag Clarification Act of 2010 was enacted, in an attempt to limit the entities required to develop and implement written identity theft prevention programs. Some college officials thought they might be excused from the Red Flag rules, which are primarily targeted to financial institutions and creditors. However, it now appears unlikely that most colleges will be excused after all.

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    • SEC Proposes New Requirements for Municipal Advisors

      In January, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed rules that, among other things, would require people who fit the broad definition of "municipal advisor" to register with the SEC, and comply with new record-keeping requirements.  Certain employees, board members, and trustees of both private and public colleges may be subject to this new requirement, if the rules are implemented.

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    • Taking a First Look at the New Key Committees

      The November elections bordered on seismic in shaking up the congressional committees. The major shifts in committee composition, combined with the plethora of new members, will present opportunities and challenges for our priority issues in the 112th Congress.  Here's a Cliffs Notes version of committees that are key to NAICU, as well as a list of the full committee assignments for each.

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    • Three-Year Student Loan Defaults Are Double Two-Year Rates

      The Department of Education has released three-year student loan cohort default rates, and the numbers are troubling. Although high default rates will not carry penalties until 2014, the report released February 3 - like those in 2010 and 2009 - show that rates will increase. In fact, the 2008 three-year student loan cohort default rate (CDR) for loans going into repayment in 2008 is nearly double the 2008 two-year CDR for all sectors.

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  • December 22, 2010
    • Congress Kills Earmarks, Puts Student Aid Funding on a Rollercoaster

      After months of negotiating and a few days of stand-off, the 111th Congress finalized the FY 2011 spending bills by passing a continuing resolution keeping the government open until March 4, 2011.  The final bill includes mostly good news for student aid, as Congress once again came up with funds to make up for a new $5.7 billion Pell Shortfall.  But student aid programs could well be on the chopping block again in the coming months, as the new Congress looks for cuts to bring federal spending down to FY 2008 levels.

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    • Congress Passes Tax Bill

      Just days before adjourning for the year, both the House and Senate finally agreed to a contentious package of tax and unemployment benefits extensions. The "Tax Relief, Unemployment Benefits Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010," now signed into law, extends every priority higher education tax benefit that either already expired or was set to expire at the end of this year. None of the items important to our students, families, and institutions were left out of the final package.

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    • DREAM Act Fails Despite Numerous Attempts

      Over the past couple of months, the House and Senate have attempted to move the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) through Congress and deliver it to the president. While the House was able to approve the bill earlier this month, two attempts to move the bill in the Senate were both unsuccessful. Any further activity on the DREAM Act will now have to wait until the next session of Congress.

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    • February Deadlines for Boren Fellowships/Scholarships

      The applications for the 2011-12 National Security Education Program's David L. Boren Scholarships for undergraduate students and Fellowships for graduate students are now available.  The awards provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. students to study in Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.The application deadline for the Boren Fellowship is February 1, and the deadline for the Boren Scholarship is February 10.

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    • Final Program Integrity Regulations Published: Many Changes Ahead

      The Department of Education has now issued most of its final regulations to curb fraud and abuse in the student aid programs. The regulations are lengthy, complex, and controversial. The formula for gainful employment - the most contentious of all the rules - won't be issued until early 2011. However, most other rules will go into effect on July 1, 2011.  (Note:  the rule on validating high school diplomas affects the current admissions process, so make sure you are in compliance now.)  Most controversial for NAICU member institutions are the regulations that establish a federal definition of credit hour and a new state authorization requirement.

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    • New NACIQI Holds Its First Meeting

      In its first meeting, the reconstituted National Advisory Council on Institutional Quality and Integrity began tackling a backlog of work that has been accumulating since Congress dismantled the body in 2008. An early action was to establish a subcommittee to recommend changes to next Higher Education Act, and addressing a wide range of questions such as the appropriate interaction between accreditation and the federal government, acceptable measures of quality, and additional measures in accreditation reviews.

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    • Post-9/11 GI Bill Update

      Among the measures that moved through the "lame-duck" session of Congress was the "Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010," which enhances education benefits to veterans, and expands eligibility under the program to more National Guard members. The measure also establishes a single national figure of $17,500 as the cap for tuition and fee payments to veterans attending non-public institutions, replacing the current state-by-state caps.

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    • Reminder: Red Flag Implementation Deadline Dec. 31

      The deadline for conforming with the Federal Trade Commission's "red flag" rule is December 31, 2010. The red flag rule requires financial institutions and creditors, including colleges, to develop and implement a written identity theft prevention program to detect, prevent, and mitigate identity theft in connection with certain financial accounts.

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  • October 4, 2010
    • Associations Seek Clarity on Student Health Plans

      Ever since President Obama signed sweeping health reform legislation into law, higher education associations, college representatives, insurance providers, and others have been attempting to clarify how the new law will apply to student health plans and services.

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    • Congress Goes Home in Hopes of Coming Back

      Congress scooted out of town on time for one of the very few times in recent history, indicating that there is one thing both parties can agree on: that being an incumbent is not a good thing this election cycle, and members need to be back home defending their seats.

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    • Hearing on For-Profit Schools Gets Partisan

      Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, held the third in a series of hearings on for-profit higher education, a system he describes as preying on low-income students to profit from tax-payer subsidized student aid.

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    • NAICU, CIC Unveil Building Blocks to 2020 Website

      NAICU and CIC unveiled a new website on Sept. 23 designed to highlight and support efforts by nonprofit private colleges and universities to increase the number of at-risk students they enroll, and to boost the retention and graduation rates of various student populations.

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    • October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

      Conducted every October since 2001, National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a national campaign to encourage everyone to protect their computers and our nation's critical cyber infrastructure. 

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    • Perkins Debate Poses Tough Choices, NAICU Member Views Sought

      Although the debate over proposed changes to the Perkins student loan program has been off the radar screens of many outside of the nation's capital, it continues to be a hot topic in the Washington student aid world. NAICU is seeking members' views on the desirability and shape of a major rewrite of the program.

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    • Republicans Release “Pledge to America”

      As the campaign season heats up, congressional Republicans are receiving considerable attention for their "Pledge to America" proposal. The six-point plan does not mention education, but makes specific proposals to shrink the size of federal spending that would put education programs in the bull’s eye.

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    • Senate Fails to Move on DREAM Act

      The Senate failed to bring legislation to the floor that would have included a controversial vote on the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

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  • September 17, 2010
    • DREAM Act Scheduled for Controversial Vote

      Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he plans a vote in the Senate early next week to add the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act as an amendment to the Department of Defense FY11 authorization bill.  NAICU members who want to register their views on the DREAM Act should contact their senators via the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 by noon on Tuesday, September 21.

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    • House Subcommittee Examines Implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill

      In a September 16 hearing, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee heard from colleges and student veteran representatives on the implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.  While they cited a number of operational problems in the program's first year, there also was discussion of the potential program changes in new legislation currently moving through Congress.

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    • NAICU Weighs in on Proposed Regs to Curb For-Profit Abuses

      NAICU and other associations representing nonprofit higher education have submitted joint comments to the Department of Education in response to the most recent set of proposed regulations aimed to curb fraud and abuse in the for-profit sector.  Of particular concern are "gainful employment" requirements that - contrary to common belief - would affect short-term certificate programs at all higher education institutions, not just the programs at for-profit institutions.

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    • Student Loan Default Rates: On the Up and Up

      The recent Department of Education release of institutional cohort default rates on federal student loans generated lots of media attention, given that - for the second year in a row - the overall average rose.  Default rates were up for all sectors, with the overall rate going from 6.7 in FY 2007 to 7.0 in FY 2008.  Meanwhile, the Department has created a new "loan repayment" indicator that offers a clearer - if even more negative - picture of student loan defaults.

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  • September 9, 2010
    • 2010 Tax Extender Bill Possible During Lame Duck Session

      It appears that higher education tax extenders are increasingly likely to be pushed to the post-election "lame-duck" session of Congress, along with funding for the student aid programs.   Senate staff remain unconvinced that the Senate will be able to pass a retroactive extension of the already-expired 2009 tax extenders prior to the November elections. However, the Senate Finance Committee is moving forward with plans to address extending a multitude of 2010 expiring provisions before the end of 2010.

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    • Administration Announces Revisions in Export Controls

      President Obama has announced plans for comprehensive changes in the current export control system. The announcement followed a year-long review of the system that concluded the current system is "overly complicated, contains too many redundancies, and, in trying to protect too much, diminishes our ability to focus our efforts on the most critical national security priorities."  Given the implications for campus research, colleges and universities have been particularly interested in addressing the ambiguities and inconsistencies in the system.

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    • Blue Campaign to Combat Human Trafficking

      The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has launched the Blue Campaign, a department-wide initiative to combat human trafficking through public awareness, victim assistance programs, and law enforcement training initiatives.  DHS hopes their efforts will help end modern day slavery, and has asked for NAICU's help in getting the word out about the new campaign.

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    • GAO Report on IPEDS Reporting Burden Leads to Department of Ed Proposal for Comment

      A new Government Accountability Office report has shown that the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems collection burden for institutions is much higher than Department of Education estimates.  In responding to the study, the Department of Education has proposed a revised burden estimate for the completion of IPEDS, and is now soliciting comments from institutions on the new estimates by October 1.  NAICU encourages all member institutions to respond to this request.

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    • IRS Partners With Local Organizations to Offer Free Tax Help

      The Internal Revenue Service has expanded its free face-to-face tax assistance efforts by partnering with local businesses and other organizations in each state to offer additional services to taxpayers. Colleges and universities may be interested in establishing such a partnership and offering these services to students, who might need help in preparing their tax returns, and the local community.

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    • Proposed Rules on Gainful Employment Continue to Roil the Waters

      The news media continue to turn out stories and commentaries in the wake of the Department of Education's proposed "gainful employment" rules and Sen. Tom Harkin's August 4 hearing that scalded the for-profit sector.  Lost in all the media frenzy, though, are the implications of the proposed regulations on non-profit and public colleges. The department has estimated that 2,139 public institutions - many of them community colleges - and nearly 250 private, non-profit colleges would have credential programs falling under the rules.

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    • Publication of Financial Responsibility Scores Creates Unfair Fiscal Picture

      Recently, 150 non-profit, private colleges were the subject of unexpected, and often unfairly negative, media coverage of their financial situations when the Chronicle of Higher Education published an unofficial list from the Department of Education purporting to measure institutions' basic fiscal health.  NAICU has been working, with two other associations, in encouraging the Department of Education to review and update their current assessment formula which has not kept pace with today's economic world.

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    • September 17 is Constitution Day

      Under legislation enacted in 2005, educational institutions receiving federal funds are required to hold an educational program relating to the U.S. Constitution on Sept 17 - the day the Constitution was signed in 1787.  NAICU encourages all of our members to embrace this opportunity to advance civic education.  The federal provision doesn't define "educational program," so institutions have a great deal of latitude - and there are resources and idea-starters available on line. 

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    • Troubling Maintenance-of-Effort Requirement in Education Jobs Bill

      The $26 billion education jobs and state Medicaid funding bill passed by Congress in early August included a "maintenance of effort" (MOE) requirement for states to keep up their funding for public K-12 and public higher education - but fails to similarly protect state funding for student aid programs or funds for private colleges. It is critically important for NAICU, the state executives, and member presidents to continue to work with congressional and state representatives on the issue - educating them about the MOE's unintended consequences for students.

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    • VA Publishes State Maximum Tuition and Fee Numbers for 2010-11

      On August 30, the Department of Veterans Affairs published the state-by-state maximum tuition and fee levels to be used for the calculation of Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for the 2010-11 academic year. With a few exceptions, the maximum payment per credit hour increased modestly. 

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    • Your Vote Your Voice and National Voter Registration Month

      NAICU is proud to announce the return of Your Vote, Your Voice - a voter education, registration and get-out-the -vote project supported by the Washington Higher Education Secretariat in every federal election since 1996.  The Your Vote, Your Voice launch later this month also coincides with the National Association of Secretaries of State's designation of September as National Voter Registration Month, with a focus on campus activities in support of voter education, registration, and civic engagement.

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  • August 6, 2010
    • "Gainful Employment," Part 2

      As part of tightening fraud and abuse rules, the Department of Education has published the second part of proposed "gainful employment" regulations.   While the proposal primarily applies to for-profit and community college programs, the Department estimates that over 200 private non-profit colleges have programs that would fall under the regulations.  The Department is accepting public comments on the proposal until September 9.

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    • Congress Heads Out of Town, Leaving Loose Ends

      Before taking its traditional late-summer break from Washington, Congress took steps toward writing the FY 2011 appropriations bills, and extending higher ed tax benefits. Still, members of the House and Senate left plenty of loose ends to be wrapped up later -- for the most part, after the November elections.

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    • Fraud and Abuse Issues: Next Phase of Regulatory Process Begins

      August 2 marked the deadline for submitting comments on proposed regulations to address fraud and abuse in federal student aid programs.  NAICU submitted its own comments, as well joining over 70 other associations on a higher education community letter.  In addition, many NAICU members submitted individual comments, in response to a NAICU action alert that outlined the key issues of interest to private, non-profit higher education.  The Department now begins to wade through the approximately 1,800 comments submitted, against a November 1 deadline.

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    • GI Bill Updates

      A bill approved August 5 by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee would establish a national $20,000 cap on annual tuition and fee payments to veterans attending non-public institutions, replacing the current state-by-state tuition and fee caps set by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The VA also has announced that the 2010-11 Yellow Ribbon program will have approximately the same number of participating institutions as last year, and has posted the list of participants on the VA website. 

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    • Turning the Rocks Over: Congress Takes a Hard Look at For-profits

      A Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on for-profit colleges August 4 offered an eye-popping look at for-profit recruitment practices - including video from a Government Accountability Office "secret shopper" investigation that documented abuses at all 15 for-profit schools the team visited in a half-dozen states.  Additional HELP Committee hearings on for-profits are planned for this fall.

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  • July 9, 2010
    • Action Needed for Private Colleges on House-passed Supplemental

      In an ongoing ping-pong match, the House and Senate are bouncing proposals for the FY 2010 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill back and forth.  While the House version of the bill includes much-needed additional Pell funding, it also contains a problematic "maintenance of effort" provision that could allow states to cut their student aid funding.  We need NAICU members to help support the Pell Grant funding, while also working to improve the MOE.

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    • Chief Privacy Officer Position Created at Dept. of Ed.

      The Department of Education has announced the creation of the position of Chief Privacy Officer. The Chief Privacy Officer will head up the Family Policy Compliance Office, which is responsible for the administration of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This individual will also be responsible for advising and coordinating other departmental activities related to privacy and data security issues.

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    • Department Issues RFP for "Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow" Program

      The Department of Education has issued a Request for Proposals for the "Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow" program.  The program supports partnerships to develop master's degree programs for teachers in STEM subject areas, plus critical foreign languages.  Applications are due by July 30, 2010.

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    • NAICU Revamps IRC Sec. 127 Coalition

      A bill to make employer-provided education assistance permanent has been introduced in the House.  The legislation would make the Internal Revenue Code Sec. 127 - employer-provided education assistance - permanent for both graduate and undergraduate course work.  Meanwhile, NAICU has been a moving force in reactivating the coalition of more than 100 organizations that will continue to advocate for extension of the tax provisions expiring this year.

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    • NAICU Seeks Member Comment on Proposed Regulations

      NAICU has sent an action alert to its membership outlining the key issues of interest to private, non-profit higher education in proposed regulations intended to stem concerns about growing federal student aid fraud and abuse.  Most concerns addressed in the proposed Department of Education regulations center on the for-profit sector of higher education, but the new rules would impact all of higher education.

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    • Congressional Committees Focus on Program Integrity

      June saw both the House and Senate education committees putting higher education fraud and abuse under the microscope.  Both committees held oversight hearings on program integrity issues raised in the proposed rulemaking now underway by the Department of Education.  Interest in the issue has also been spurred by a rising tide of media reports on the growth and activities of proprietary schools.  And certainly, still more congressional scrutiny lies ahead.

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    • New Survey on Academic Development and Remediation

      In the next several weeks some of you may be asked to participate in a randomly selected sample of institutions that aims to evaluate students' need for developmental or remedial courses. The survey is being sponsored by the National Assessment Governing Board, created by Congress in 1988 to oversee the National Assessment of Student Progress, also known as The Nation's Report Card.

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    • VA Announces 2010-11 Yellow Ribbon Program Agreement Deadlines

      The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that, beginning March 15, it will be accepting Yellow Ribbon Program Agreements for the 2010-11 academic year.  Completed applications are due no later than May 21.  The new agreement form and instructions are not yet available, but will be posted on the GI Bill Web site by March 15.  Additional information about the Yellow Ribbon program is also available on the site. 

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  • June 3, 2010
    • Building Blocks to 2020: Private Colleges Answer the Call

      NAICU and the Council of Independent Colleges have unveiled the framework by which we hope to collect, share, and illustrate private colleges and universities collective efforts to help the nation lead the world in college completion by the year 2020.  The launch  of the new Building Blocks to 2020 Website on June 1 marks NAICU's first membership-wide appeal to our members to "Answer the Call."

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    • Common Core State Standards in English and Math Released

      The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers have released their final standards in English language arts and mathematics, developed through the Common Core Standards Initiative. In general, the standards seek to ensure that all high school graduates are ready for college level work - a positive move.  But the standards also need to be more fully vetted by college educators.

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    • Final NACIQI Appointments Made

      Now that the House of Representatives has made its appointments to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, the membership of the panel is complete.  The new NACIQI, which advises the Secretary of Education on accreditation matters, won't meet until fall.  However, given the mix of members, its deliberations are likely to be as contentious as the former body which last met two years ago.

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    • FTC's Red Flag Rule Deadline Extended Again

      The Federal Trade Commission has extended the enforcement deadline for the identity theft "Red Flag Rule" from June 1, 2010 until December 31, 2010. The delay is in response to a request from Congress. Several members feel that the scope of the rule which was developed under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act passed in 2007 may be too broad.

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    • House Passes 2009 Tax Extenders

      The House has approved a bill to extend dozens of tax provisions that expired Dec. 31, 2009, including the charitable IRA rollover and tuition deduction. All of the expired provisions would be retroactively extended for one year and would expire at the end of 2010. The measure also extends unemployment insurance benefits.  The Senate is expected to consider its version of the bill the week of June 7.

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    • NAICU Announces Projected Direct Lobbying Costs for 2010-11 Membership Cycle

      Beginning with its 2010-11 membership dues invoices, NAICU is adding its projection of the portion of dues that go to direct lobbying expenses, to ease member colleges' compliance efforts.  Until now, NAICU has provided that number to member institutions on an as-requested basis.

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    • New Round of ED Student Data System Grants Announced

      The Institute of Education Sciences of the Department of Education recently announced the latest set of grant awards to state educational agencies for the design and implementation of statewide longitudinal data systems. Twenty states will receive three-year awards of amounts ranging from $5.1 to $19.7 million.  These most recent awards are the fourth set of longitudinal data system grants issued by IES since November 2005.

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    • Pell Shortfall Addressed in Draft House Supplemental

      After weeks of political infighting over what domestic funding should be included in the war supplemental, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) has proposed an emergency spending package that includes $5.7 billion to cover the funding shortfall in the Pell Grant program. The machinations aren't over yet, though.

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    • Post-9/11 GI Bill Improvements Process Begins

      The first year under the new Post-9/11 GI Bill has enabled hundreds of thousands of military-related students to go to the college of their choice with little or no debt. But complex rules have been a nightmare for colleges, veterans, and the Department of Veterans Affairs alike.  Now the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has introduced discussion legislation to start what he describes as a process of reform and amendment.

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  • May 12, 2010
    • CBO Releases College and University Tax Arbitrage Report

      The Congressional Budget Office released a report examining tax-exempt bond financing by colleges and universities on April 30.  Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) had requested the report, which looks at the practice of many colleges and universities to use tax-exempt debt to finance investments in buildings and equipment, while simultaneously holding investment assets giving a higher rate of return.  While the report makes no specific recommendations, the issue bears careful watching.

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    • CHEA Calls for Additional Disclosure of Accreditation Findings

      The Council for Higher Education Accreditation is proposing to expand the public disclosure requirements of accreditation results - long a point of contention between NAICU and CHEA.  Many NAICU members believe such disclosures would weaken the rigor of the accreditation process, and are subject to misinterpretation by local news media.  CHEA is accepting comments on the proposed changes until May 31.

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    • Congress starts thinking about ESEA reauthorization

      The House and Senate education committees have been holding hearings related to the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as "No Child Left Behind."  While higher education is not directly involved in the ESEA reauthorization, there are three main areas with higher ed implications that NAICU is keeping an eye on:  teacher preparation, the common core standards movement, and high school reform.

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    • Drumbeat Continues for Comprehensive Student Data Systems

      Late last month, the Department of Education announced its intentions to make further regulatory changes in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, given that FERPA has been seen by proponents of statewide longitudinal data systems as an obstacle to use and expansion of those systems.  And data issues also were at the center of a House Education and Labor Committee hearing earlier in April. 

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  • April 26, 2010
    • Higher Ed Tax Relief Bill Introduced in House

      Introduced with bi-partisan support last week, H.R. 5078 would extend and improve certain expiring higher education tax provisions, and provide additional tax relief for scholarship and grant recipients.  The bill complements legislation introduced in December by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), that would make permanent a host of higher ed-related tax provisions set to expire at the end of 2010.

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    • NACIQI to Meet in September

      The newly constituted National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) is expected to meet on September 14-16.  NACIQI is the body that advises the Secretary of Education regarding the recognition of accreditation agencies.  When it meets, the group is scheduled to review seven compliance reports and consider 11 petitions for renewal of recognition.  Written comments on any of the agencies under review are due no later than May 23.

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    • Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Holds Oversight Hearing on Post-9/11 GI Bill

      The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs explored implementation of the post-9/11 GI Bill in an oversight hearing held April 21.  To date, over $2.7 billion in payments have been made on behalf of approximately 246,000 individuals.  Witnesses generally spoke positively about the new bill, but also addressed problems over the first year of its implementation, some of which still persist.

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    • Student Aid Not Protected in Senate Education Jobs Bill

      The recently introduced S. 3206, the Education Jobs Fund bill, like the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, intends to protect state funds for public education.  However, like ARRA, the new bill requires states to maintain education funding levels, but fails to include state student aid funding under that "maintenance of effort."  NAICU is concerned that this could squeeze student aid programs and state institutional support to private colleges.

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  • March 31, 2010
    • Associations Launch Web Site to Help Colleges Go Global

      NAICU, along with about a dozen other higher education organizations, have established a Web site to provide resources for campuses that wish to "internationalize" their campuses. The site offers a trove of material on various aspects of international education, including study abroad, partnerships and collaborations, and institutional and cultural change.

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    • Converting to Direct Loans- Getting Started

      If your institution have not yet begun the direct loan conversion process, you might want to get underway as soon as possible.  Start by going to the Department of Education's "Direct Loans - Getting Started" page.

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    • EducationUSA to Offer First International Admission Forum

      EducationUSA will offer its first-ever "Connecting You to the World" forum in Washington, D.C., June 28-29.  The forum is designed for international admission and enrollment management professionals at U.S. colleges and universities who are seeking to enhance their international student recruitment.  For details and registration information, visit the EducationUSA Web site.

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    • FIPSE Requests U.S.-Russia Partnership Proposals

      The Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) has announced a grant program to encourage and develop educational opportunities between U.S. and Russian colleges. The arrangements provided by the grants would encourage language learning, cultural appreciation, sharing knowledge and forming long-term relationships between the two countries.

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    • The Path to Federal Student Aid Reform

      The passage of the student loan reform bill was made possible by two intersecting circumstances:  the 2008 credit crisis and the 2008 election which gave Democrats control of the White House, the House, and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.  For a retrospective view of the twists and turns, see this NAICU chronology, summarizing the most significant events of the past two years that helped shape the legislation's final form.

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    • The Student Loan Reform Bill: A Perspective

      The final student loan reform bill that Congress approved on March 25 is dramatically scaled back from earlier versions of the legislation.  But even the simpler legislation that ultimately emerged still stands as a historic change in federal student aid and health care policy for colleges - one that will have profound effects in the months and years ahead.  Here are some of the bill's highlights.

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  • March 9, 2010
    • CASE, Carnegie Foundation Seek Professor of Year Nominations

      The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching have launched the nomination period for the 2010 U.S. Professors of the Year awards.  The annual program honors U.S. professors who excel as educators and influence the lives and careers of their students, and is open to faculty at all four- and two-year institutions.  The nomination deadline is April 16.

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    • Department of State Looking for Undergraduate Study Abroad Proposals

      The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has published a Request for Grant Proposals on "Capacity Building for Undergraduate Study Abroad."  The purpose is "to build the capacity of U.S. institutions of higher education and of potential host institutions abroad to provide study abroad opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students."  Deadline for submissions is April 12.

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    • Early CBO Estimate Highlights Pell Costs Going Up

      The initial review of the president's FY 2011 budget by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), released on March 5, is sure to add more fuel to the fire on congressional student aid reform.  Pell Grants now cost more because of increased eligibility due to the economic downturn, plus the conversion to direct loans now entails slightly lower savings because so many institutions have already switched.  So what happens when new CBO numbers are released?

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    • EPA Offers Free Training on Academic Labs Rule for Hazardous Waste

      The Environmental Protection Agency will be offer free training May 18 on new alternative hazardous waste generator regulations that apply to colleges and universities with science laboratories, engineering and/or technology laboratories, art studios, and those with an associated teaching hospital or non-profit research institution. Campus representatives may attend in person at the EPA's conference facility in Alexandria, Va., or via live Webcast.

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    • Federal Grants Available to Recruit College Poll Workers

      The U. S. Election Assistance Commission has announced the availability of $750,000 in grant funds for three-year awards to recruit, train and support college poll workers.  The Help America Vote College Program will award grants worth up to $65,000 to recruit students to serve as poll workers during the 2010 mid-term elections. The application deadline is March 31.

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    • NAICU Continues to Assist Members in Direct Loan Conversion

      While a switch to Direct Loans is not yet a done deal, congressional leaders have repeatedly said that if legislation is enacted even in the coming weeks, the conversion will still be effective this July 1.  NAICU has been working with Department of Education staff and member colleges to make sure that smaller institutions get the help they need to prepare for the possible change-over.

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    • Pell in Crisis: Could the Hybrid Run Out of Gas?

      Lost in the frenzy is the fact that the student loan and health care reform bill now being considered by Congress will also have a profound effect on funding for the Pell Grant program, the foundation student aid program that helps millions of low-income students pay for college.

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    • Sec. Duncan Addresses Civil Rights Challenges

      Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced that his department is "going to reinvigorate civil rights enforcement."  Part of that will entail 36 compliance reviews in the next few months - most focused on K-12, but also including six institutions of higher education.  Beyond the traditional areas of civil rights concerns, the higher education reviews are likely to look at athletics, sexual violence, and treatment of people with disabilities. 

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    • Ways and Means Leadership Change Looks Positive for Higher Ed

      When Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) resigned as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee last week, it put into play one of the most powerful committee chairmanships in the House.  After a false start and some musical chairs, Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) was named to head Ways and Means - a move that has generally pleased higher education advocates as they they look ahead to the expiration of key tax provisions this year.

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  • February 10, 2010
    • Debt Ceiling Increases

      Recent congressional action has increased the federal debt ceiling, and has reinstated statutory pay-as-you-go requirements on entitlement spending.  But through the process, student aid funding was protected -- a clear indicator of just how important student aid has become in the eyes of Congress.

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    • ESEA Reauthorization Underway

      The President's budget kicked off the process for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), with the outline of proposed consolidation of programs to focus on "competitiveness, flexibility, and accountability," according to the department's press release on the budget.  A particular concern of NAICU and other higher ed associations is the role institutions of higher education will play in teacher preparation.

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    • Green-building Fellowships Available for Under-resourced Colleges

      Second Nature, a national nonprofit organization advancing sustainability in the higher education sector, is seeking applications for the 2010 Kresge Fellowship Program created to address some of the challenges faced by under-resourced schools to "build green" on their campuses.  Fellowships will be awarded to 25 under-resourced institutions.  The application deadline is March 15.  Final decisions will be announced on April 15.

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    • House, Senate Look to Extend Expiring Tax Provisions

      The IRA charitable rollover and the tuition deduction, two very important provisions, have now expired with the rest of the 2009 expiring tax provisions. However, both the House and Senate intend to retroactively extend these provisions for one additional year.  Even if extended, though, the end of 2010 will see the expiration of these two along with a host of other tax provisions important to colleges and universities.

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    • Jobs Bill Action Moves to the Senate

      Federal Work Study funds provided through the stimulus bill) last year have proven effective in providing jobs for students in college -- to help them not only pay for college, but to stay in college and graduate. Almost 90 percent of the FWS stimulus funds had been distributed by the end of 2009, underlining the program's efficiency.  At the same time, though the $500 increase in the Pell Grant included in the ARRA last year has resulted in some states cutting state financial aid programs, and undercutting the intent of Congress to help students pay for college.

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    • Negotiated Rulemaking Ends with No Formal Agreement

      Over the past three months, negotiators spent weeks in tough debate over new integrity rules for the federal student aid programs.  Still, the end result was a lack of consensus.  No surprise there, though, given that the focus of the proposed new rules was on the for-profit sector, and their representatives were part of the negotiated rulemaking sessions, along with their longtime adversaries such as consumer watchdog groups.

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    • New Net Price Calculator Resource Available

      The Association for Institutional Research (AIR) and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) are making available a Net Price Calculator Webinar the two associations co-hosted --after having received nearly 2,000 requests for it.

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    • Obama's FY 2011 Budget Treats Student Aid Kindly

      President Obama sent his FY 2011 budget to Congress on February 1, and made education funding a top priority in a tight budget, providing a 7.5 percent increase in discretionary funds. That's in contrast to an overall three-year freeze on non-security discretionary programs, which would hold spending at $447 billion for programs outside of Homeland Security, Defense, Veterans, and Intelligence.

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    • Student Aid Reconciliation Stalled by Health Care? It's Complicated.

      Word is that the Senate education committee has the student aid reconciliation bill ready to go, but is waiting for a decision on how to move forward with the health care reform legislation before taking action. The bill would convert all student loans to direct loans and use the savings to increase the Pell Grant maximum.  But the sticking point centers on the Senate's reconciliation process.  Like many things in the upper chamber, it's complicated.

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  • January 8, 2010
    • A Slimmer, Spiffier Look for FAFSA

      January 1 saw the unveiling of a new, more streamlined Federal Application for Financial Student Aid.  Still further FAFSA changes may lie ahead.  However, there are some concerns that too much simplification could actually undermine the value of this critically important gateway to federal student aid.

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    • Community-Campus Partnerships for Health Seeks Award Nominees

      The Community-Campus Partnerships for Health is seeking nominees for its annual award.  The CCPH Award recognizes exemplary partnerships between communities and higher educational institutions focused on overcoming root causes of health, social, and economic inequalities.  Nominations are due by February 1, and will the chosen awardee will be recognized at CCPH's conference May 12-15.

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    • NEH Challenge Grants in U.S. History and Culture

      The National Endowment for the Humanities invites proposals for challenge grants designed to help institutions and organizations secure long-term improvements in and support for humanities activities that advance knowledge of the American experience in both national and international contexts. The application deadline is February 3.

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    • Peace Corps Seeks Participants in Master's Program

      The Peace Corps has issued a request for proposals for new colleges and universities in their Master's International (MI) program, integrating graduate study with Peace Corps service.  Courses of study included are agriculture, education, business development, environment/natural resources, and youth development.  The closing date for proposals is March 15, 2010.  Visit the Peace Corps Web site for details, or contact mastersinternational@peacecorps.gov, (800) 424-8580, ext.1812.

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  • December 18, 2009
    • Civil Rights Commission to Look at Gender in Admissions

      The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has initiated a "Project on Sex Discrimination in Higher Education Admissions." The project will focus on whether selective coeducational institutions give special preference to male applicants. As an initial step, the commission identified 19 public and private institutions within 100 miles of Washington, DC, and has issued subpoenas for their admission records. The commission indicates that they were chosen to provide information about a cross section of institutions, and not because of any complaints or suspicion about their specific admissions practices.  For more on this developing story, see the links to media coverage on the NAICU Web site.

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    • Congress Sends Higher Ed Funding Increases to President

      That giant legislative sack, the FY 2010 omnibus appropriations bill that Congress sent to the president last weekend, contained some early presents for higher education -- most notably, additional Pell Grant funding that will take the maximum student grant to $5,550 for 2010-11, a $200 increase. The bill also increases funding for TRIO, GEAR UP, Strengthening Institutions Grants, and international education.

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    • First Glimpse of Three-year Default Rate Isn't Pretty

      The Department of Education has given a first glimpse of the new three-year cohort default rate for institutions.  As expected, the extra year, combined with the souring economy, caused most colleges' default rates to rise.  While all sectors' default rates increased, the change was most dramatic among for-profits.

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    • Implications of House Financial Regulation Bill for Colleges

      Buried in the 1,700-pages of the financial sector reform bill now moving through Congress are several provisions with implications for colleges.  While the Senate has yet to introduce companion legislation, the House bill passed on December 10 would explicitly regulate some kinds of loans made by colleges and their related organizations. 

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    • NAICU Board More Cautious on Student Aid Bill

      The changing landscape on the president's student aid initiative, and concerns about the shape of the emerging legislation were the dominant policy conversations during November's NAICU board and committee meetings.  Ultimately, the board chose to continue to support the bill, but not without some serious reservations.

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    • NAICU Continues to Gather Student Access, Success Efforts

      In supporting President Obama's goal of the world's highest proportion of college graduates by 2020, America's private colleges have much to offer - and a powerful story to tell about their efforts to enroll, support, and graduate all students, but especially underserved students. To get that story in front of policy makers and the public, NAICU has launched an ongoing survey to gather the innovative, ambitious ways our institutions are reaching out and helping. NAICU members that have not yet responded - or would like to expand on responses already submitted - are invited to complete the survey on line.

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    • Outlook Brightens for Expiring Higher Education Tax Provisions

      The House has approved the Tax Extenders Act of 2009, extending for one year 49 expiring tax provisions at a cost of $31 billion. The bill passed on December 9 includes one-year extensions of the IRA charitable rollover and the above-the-line tuition deduction, currently set to expire on December 31. A year from now, however, there will be even more intense action, as myriad tax breaks enacted in 2001 will be set to expire.

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    • Program Integrity Neg-reg Panel Addresses Thorny Issues

      The Department of Education's negotiated rule-making committee on proposed changes to program integrity regulations spent a week wrestling with over a dozen separate issues . . . with only very limited agreement.  Here's a summary of some of the more contentious issues, and what lies ahead.

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  • November 10, 2009
    • Duncan’s Efforts to Help Colleges Prepare for Direct Lending Come Under Scrutiny

      The leading Republican lawmaker on the House Education and Labor Committee has sent a detailed request to Education Secretary Arnie Duncan regarding the administration's efforts to ensure that colleges are ready to convert to direct lending.  As the student loan reform bill continues to lag in Congress there is growing concern about whether colleges will have enough time to convert to direct lending if a mandate is passed only months before the deadline.

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    • Education Department Issues Final HEOA Regulations

      In a flurry of activity in late October, the Department of Education issued final regulations implementing Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) provisions dealing with accreditation, student loans, and general and non-loan programmatic issues. Under the master calendar provisions of the Higher Education Act, final regulations must be issued by November 1 in order to take effect the following July 1.

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    • Fordham Study Shows Lax Privacy Protection in K-12 Student Records

      A report released in late October by the Fordham University Center on Law and Information Policy paints a disturbing picture of the back-seat consideration given to privacy and security issues in state elementary and secondary school reporting systems. In their review of data collection activities in all 50 states, the Fordham researchers concluded that basic privacy protections were lacking in the majority of states. The report makes eight specific recommendations designed to improve the privacy and accountability of these databases.

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    • Hazy Outlook on Student Health Coverage as Congress Moves on Health Care Reform

      Even with the House of Representatives passing its version of health reform this past weekend, the outlook for student health coverage remains unclear. Last month, House Democratic leaders held a press conference announcing that essential health provisions for young Americans would be a key component of any final health care reform package. The House bill includes language providing coverage until age 27. Many young adults lose coverage at age 19, or upon completing college a few years later. The language would bridge any gaps in insurance and allow continuing coverage.

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    • Negotiating Panel Undertakes Program Integrity

      A Department of Education negotiating panel has started work on program integrity issues. This process is of significant interest to the private, nonprofit higher education sector, which is represented on the panel by Todd Jones, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio, as primary negotiator, and Maureen Budetti of NAICU as the alternate. The first of the panel's three week-long sessions, held earlier this month, focused on exploring 14 issues put forth by the Department for consideration.

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    • NPEC Issues Guide to HEOA Disclosure Requirements

      The National Postsecondary Education Cooperative (NPEC) Working Group on the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 has issued a guide to help institutions navigate through the ever expanding list of disclosures required by the law. These disclosures range from financial aid to fire safety-with varying requirements on the means of disclosure and the individuals to whom the disclosures are directed.

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    • Senate Rule Precludes Private College Protection in Student Aid Bill

      A key factor in NAICU's ability to support the House student aid reform bill was the inclusion of a rule that made it possible for the private college sector to participate in the president's 2020 graduation initiative without inappropriate government intrusion. However, because the Senate is using the "budget reconciliation" process, that Rule of Construction won't be included in the Senate version.  NAICU is now trying to find an alternate approach to carve the private sector out of the state program mandates.

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  • October 8, 2009
    • Higher Ed Groups Press IRS for Clarification on Endowment Investments

      NAICU has joined several other associations in a letter to the IRS, asking for clarification on the agency's stance on international investments. Recently, IRS officials have indicated that foreign investments - including endowment fund investments in offshore hedge funds, private equity funds and venture capital funds - would be subject to sudden and unexpected changes in IRS reporting requirements.

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    • Hurry Up and Wait Again for Higher Education Legislation

      After a fast-paced few months of developments on implementing of the president's student aid proposals, the action has slowed dramatically in Washington, as everyone awaits the outcome of health care debates - and the possible use of the student aid bill as a vehicle for passing health care legislation.

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    • Non-profit Reforms, Charitable Limitation Dropped from Final Finance Committee Health Reform Bill

      The Senate Finance Committee completed consideration of amendments to health care reform legislation without adopting several amendments that would have affected both nonprofit governance and the charitable deduction.  The bill now awaits final approval from the committee before moving to consideration on the Senate floor.

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    • Reporting Deadline for Stimulus Funds Gets Confusing

      Colleges learned late last month that they had to submit reports if they received more than $25,000 in Federal Work Study through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Now the Department of Education has said they must register by October 10, but have until October 21 to submit the reports on the FWS funds.  The deadline for reporting on other ARRA funds remains October 10.

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  • September 28, 2009
    • Loan Default Rates Rise after 15-year Decline

      Every September, the Department of Education publishes its final student loan cohort default rates (CDR). This September marks the second year in a row that the rates have risen - even for four-year private colleges, which traditionally have lowest default rate of all the sectors.

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    • President's Student Aid Proposal Includes Special Recognition for Private Colleges

      The president's student aid proposal, as passed by the House on September 17, includes a number of moving parts - including a special provision making it possible for the private college sector to participate in the President's 2020 graduation initiative without the threat of inappropriate government intrusion. Action now moves to the Senate over the next couple weeks.

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  • September 2, 2009
    • Coming Soon: Voter Registration Deadlines in States with Gubernatorial/Special Elections

      New Jersey and Virginia will hold gubernatorial elections this fall, plus California and Massachusetts will be holding special elections to fill open congressional seats.  Under federal law, colleges in those states are required to provide access to voter registration forms for their students.  Here are details on what's required.

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    • Department Publishes General Higher Ed Regs for Comment

      The Department of Education has issued proposed regulations dealing with various general, non-loan issues. Among these new requirements are disclosures about the employment of an institution's graduates. NAICU objected to an expanded interpretation of the statute during the negotiated rulemaking process. We're now asking members' views on whether the proposed regulatory language in this area is manageable or an unreasonable burden.

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    • President's Student Aid Proposal Gets Complicated

      It seemed simple last winter:  the president's budget proposal would require all colleges to convert to direct lending, and the savings would then be used to expand the Pell Grant and Perkins Loan programs, and create a state-based Access and Completion Fund.  Since then, it's all gotten very complicated.  Here's a look at the many moving parts as this important piece of legislation moves through Congress.

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  • August 11, 2009
    • The Regs of Summer

      Here's a summary of proposed and final regulatory notices that have been published recently by the Department of Education and other agencies.  And we'll give you a heads-up on two forthcoming Notices of Proposed Rule-making - one on the TRIO and GEAR-UP programs, and another on a basket of student aid and institutional compliance directives.

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  • July 23,2009
    • House Student Aid Bill Full of Surprises

      President Obama's proposal to fund additional student aid by restructuring the federal student aid programs is now taking shape in the form of H.R. 3221, approved by the House Education and Labor Committee on July 21.  The complex bill is a mixed bag, with more than a few surprises inside.

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  • June 29, 2009
  • June 1, 2009
    • New Law Imposes Special Credit Card Restrictions on College Students

      The credit card law signed on May 22 is intended to protect consumers from ramped-up interest rates and fees. But buried in the bill are several provisions that will limit access to credit cards by minors - especially college students - and will make public details of colleges' agreements with credit card companies.

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    • California's $0 for Veterans Raises New Questions on Capitol Hill

      Under current Veterans Administration rules, a veteran hoping to attend a California private college walks onto campus without a dollar to help offset tuition before any Yellow Ribbon Program funds are applied.  That's because of word games that get the state's public institutions around a law prohibiting them from charging tuition.  Now the disparity has come to the attention of Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), and he's not happy.

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    • HEA Redux Begins

      Back-to-back days of hearings by the House Education and Labor Committee looked at the administration's "cradle to career" plan for education, and showcased divergent views on the administration's proposal to eliminate the Federal Family Education Loan Program in favor of the Federal Direct Loan Program.

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    • Neg-reg Sessions Conclude

      The five negotiated rule-making teams that have been meeting since February to craft regulations for a number of provisions in the new Higher Education Opportunity Act wrapped up their work in May.  Of the five, three were able to reach consensus while two were not.  Now the Department of Education moves the process forward, with final regulations to go into effect in a year.

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    • FICA Tax on Student Workers Could be Used to Finance Health Care Reform

      As the Senate Finance Committee considers health care reform this summer, one proposal is to fund some of those costs by imposing FICA taxes on college students earning as little as $1,090 a year on campus.  At this point it's no more than a preliminary concept, but bears close watching. 

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  • May 11, 2009
    • Final Obama Budget Calls for Continuing SEOG, LEAP

      President Obama submitted the long-awaited details of his FY 2010 budget to Congress on Thursday. The fine print confirms what administration officials had been telling NAICU for months - the president advocates continuation of both the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and LEAP state grant programs.

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    • What's New on the GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program

      The Department of Veteran's Affairs issued a list of FAQs on the Yellow Ribbon Program on May 7.  The 13-page document is full of useful clarifications on such diverse topic as how to calculate the match and certain deadlines.  We also bring you up to date on some other important developments.

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    • Grassley Expected to Leave Senate Finance in 2011

      It's two years away, but Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) will step down as ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee to become ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2011.  There are implications for higher education with the forthcoming change, given that Grassley has been both a critic and supporter of the non-profit sector - especially colleges and universities.

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  • May 4, 2009
    • Congress Adopts Reconciliation for Student Aid

      The House and Senate budget resolution conference report approved on April 29 sets the stage for restructuring the federal student loan programs, with the savings used to increase Pell Grant funding.  A difficult and winding path still lies ahead, though.

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    • GI Bill Updates

      Plans are changing and procedures are being refined as the new GI Bill Yellow Ribbon program approaches the June 15 cutoff for private colleges to participate in 2009-10.  Here is a summary of recent developments.

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    • Neg Reg Finishes Second of Three Rounds

      Accreditation proved to be the hot-button issue in Round Two.  Now the negotiated rulemaking teams are reconvening for their last set of meetings, as the process moves toward final regs by November, and implementation a year from this July.

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    • New Jersey and Virginia Head to the Polls in November

      To comply with the Higher Education Act, colleges in these two states may want to have their student activities or registrar's office e-mail all students the link to the state voter registration form this fall.  Please allow enough time for students to complete and return their forms to the state prior to the registration deadline.

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    • New Data Released on Education/Earnings Relationship

      A newly-released U.S. Census Bureau report shows that those age 25 or older with a bachelor's degree, and working full time year-round, earn an average of $29,000 more annually than do those with only a high-school education.  A master's degree adds nearly $12,000, and a doctorate adds $38,000 to average annual earnings for those with bachelor's degrees only.  See NAICU's chart analyzing the Census Bureau report.

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  • April 9, 2009
    • Department of Education Announcements

      Here's a quick summary of recent Department of Education announcements on final funding authorizations for the campus-based programs, TEACH Grant eligible institutions, and the use of professional judgment by financial aid administrators that may be of interest, with links to the Department Web site for more details.

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    • HED Funding Opportunity: Workforce Development in Algeria

      Higher Education for Development (HED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), anticipate making one award of up to $600,000 for a three-year partnership with Mentouri University in Algeria to strengthen the Algerian workforce. Elements will be enhanced English language studies, a strengthened business curricula, and establishment of a career development center. Application deadline is June 15.

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    • NAICU Survey Points Toward Lowest Tuition Increase in at Least 37 Years

      An ongoing survey of private colleges and universities is finding that next year's tuition increases are at historical lows, and are being outpaced by increases in institutional student aid.  The average increase in tuition and fees across the 280 institutions reporting so far is 4.2 percent - the lowest annual increase in at least 37 years, and close to the 2008 Consumer Price Index rate of 3.8 percent. 

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    • Opinion Pieces Raise Questions about Affordability, Access, and Student Privacy

      Last week, higher education's commitment and ability to serve students from all background was criticized in the opinion pages of USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.  In both cases, NAICU President David L. Warren responded with letters to the editor, emphasizing the extraordinary steps private colleges and universities are taking to stay affordable in tough economic times.

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    • VA Releases Yellow Ribbon Participation Form with May 15 Deadline

      The Department of Veterans Affairs today issued its formal Yellow Ribbon program agreement form. The agreement form, letter with more details, and additional information is now posted on the VA Web site.  Colleges intending to participate in the program must submit a hard copy of the completed form to the VA by May 15, in order to offer a Yellow Ribbon program for the 2009-10 academic year. 

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  • April 1, 2009
    • GI Bill/Yellow Ribbon Final Regulations

      The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued final regulations on the new GI Bill, including guidance on the Yellow Ribbon Program.  While the regulations answer some of the major questions posed by private colleges, they also raise new questions.  NAICU staff will meet with the VA later this week to explore the new questions, so expect more clarifications in the near future.  Meanwhile, here is a preliminary NAICU overview of the new regulations.

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  • March 30, 2009
    • Federal Reserve Announces Rule-making on Student Loan Sunshine Provisions

      The Federal Reserve System has issued a notice of proposed rule-making  on student loan sunshine provisions for private student loans.  The notice deals with the conflict-of-interest provisions of private student loans in the Higher Education Opportunity Act, passed last August, growing out of then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's focus on the relationship between colleges and lenders two years ago.

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    • Senate Adopts "Kennedy" Serve America Act

      The Senate has passed a bill reauthorizing the 1990 National and Community Service Act, and renaming it in honor of its original co-sponsor, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).  The House is scheduled to reconsider and pass the Senate version of the bill on Monday, March 30, so that President Obama can sign the bill before traveling overseas.

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    • Tweaking the HEA in Light of the Economy

      Although technical amendments are supposed to be just that - "technical" - the economic downturn is already forcing Congress to make some major changes to the Higher Education Act reauthorization bill passed last August. 

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  • March 27, 2009
    • House and Senate Budgets Nod Toward Obama's Student Aid Plan

      Both the House and Senate Budget Committees wrote their draft FY 2010 budget resolutions this week -- each with a different nod toward President Obama's plan for restructuring student aid.  Neither plan goes as far as the president might ideally like, but both plans provide mechanisms congressional committees need to work toward his proposals.

       

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  • March 18, 2009
    • Obama's Student Aid Budget Plan: Policy Meets Process and Politics

      It's been 16 years since newly-elected President Bill Clinton tried to restructure student aid. Now, President Obama is proposing an even more ambitious plan -- a transition to direct lending for all student loans, with the savings used to fund a Pell Grant entitlement, a six-fold expansion in Perkins loans, plus $500 million per year for governors to improve college completion by at-risk students. And now, some of the procedural and policy hurdles that stood in Clinton's way could complicate Obama's efforts as well.

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    • Pell Grant Funding Secured for FY 2009

      Last week President Obama signed the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill which makes funding for student aid programs for academic year 2009-10 complete.  Under the bill, the Pell Grant maximum goes to an all-time high of $5,350; campus-based programs are level funded; and TRIO and GEAR UP early intervention and support programs are increased.

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  • March 9, 2009
    • "Neg Reg" Teams Finish Round One

      The negotiated rule-making has completed its first phase of negotiations as it works toward consensus regulations in certain areas of the new Higher Education Act.  With five negotiating teams having convened over three weeks, the process now adjourns until April while the Department of Education develops draft regulations out of the preliminary negotiations.

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    • Obama Budget Proposes Limiting Charitable Deduction

      President Obama's budget contains a proposal to cap the rate of the charitable deduction to 28 percent for individuals making over $200,000 and joint filers making over $250,000.  There is widespread concern throughout the nonprofit community that, if enacted, this proposal could severely limit charitable donations.

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    • Obscure Stimulus Tax Provision Could Help Small Colleges

      In addition to the obvious higher education provisions in the recently signed economic stimulus law, an additional small-issue bonding provision could also help colleges renovate and repair facilities.  Specifically, the provision will increase the availability of bank funds to colleges for building projects by raising the annual limit on borrowing from $10 million to $30 million - and this limit will now apply to the borrower, not to the issuer.

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    • Updating National Service Top Priority for Congress and Administration

      National service is back.  A number of proposals in the House, Senate, and the Obama FY 2010 budget would increase the number of national service participants of all ages. The proposals also create a number of new national service programs, and would reauthorize the National and Community Service Act for the first time in a decade.

       

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  • March 2, 2009
    • . . . And you thought reauthorization was over . . .

      The Obama budget proposes major restructuring of the Pell Grant and Perkins Loan programs, and also calls for all federal student loans to be made through the Direct Loan program.  The administration is approaching the set of budget proposals as an interlocking unit.  This means that getting this complex and controversial a package through Congress will be like taking on another major reauthorization of the Higher Education Act this year.

       

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    • VA Officials to Congress: We'll Be Up and Running by August 1

      Department of Veterans Affairs officials have assured Congress that they are on track to implement the new GI Bill -- including the new Yellow Ribbon Program, of particular interest to private colleges.  However, it's clear from recent testimony that questions remain to be answered, and the VA's to-do list between now and August 1 is daunting.

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  • February 23, 2009
    • HEA Negotiated Rulemaking Meetings Underway

      The Department of Education has now started the lengthy negotiated rulemaking (or "neg reg") process that will be used to implement provisions of the new Higher Education Act. The formal meetings began in Washington, D.C., on February 18, and will continue until the end of May. The proposed regulations developed through this process should be available for public review and comment this summer.

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    • Inside the Stimulus Bill

      In the end, private colleges fared very well in the legislation, considering the convoluted and contentious negotiations to get to the final bill.  Though some provisions of interest to private colleges weren't included in the final bill, major wins included a $500 Pell Grant increase, a new $2,500 tax credit, and at least the potential for some funding of higher education modernization projects.  Plus we summarize other higher-ed provisions.

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    • What's New with the Post-9/11 GI Bill

      Here's a brief recap of developments on the Veterans Administration (V.A.) implementation of the new GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program since our last report on both in January.  Most pressing is the fact that the V.A. has posted a preliminary cutoff of Friday, February 27, for institutions to express interest in participating in the Yellow Ribbon program by completing a brief questionnaire (this is not a formal participation agreement).

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  • January 16, 2009
    • 111th Congress Gets Early Start on Labor Legislation

      With the election of Barack Obama and solid Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, we expect labor issues to have a prominent place on the agenda of the 111th Congress. Certainly, they have received early attention.

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    • Department Acts on Higher Education Opportunity Act

      The Department of Education has released the much-anticipated "Dear Colleague Letter" and the announcement of the structure and planned schedule for negotiated rule-making of the Higher Education Opportunity Act. The 220-page document provides a detailed table of contents helpful in locating the many new provisions, and coordinates the section references in HEOA with the Higher Education Act (HEA).

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    • Liquidity for Student Loans Extended

      The Department of Education has yet again taken steps to provide capital for federal student loans. Acting under authority of legislation passed last spring and extended last October, the department plans to purchase additional loans. Both the initial Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act and its extension were influenced by NAICU's first two surveys on the economy.

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    • NAICU Survey Explores Economic Challenges

      NAICU recently released the results of its third survey for 2008 of the impact of the economic downturn on private colleges, and for the third time in a row, the survey results have impacted significant legislation before Congress.

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    • Secretary of Education-designate Arne Duncan - Through a Higher-education Lens

      President-elect Barack Obama has named Arne Duncan, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, to be the next Secretary of Education. He comes to Washington with a strong background in public elementary and secondary education, but very little professional experience in higher education.

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    • Student Aid Big Winner in House Stimulus Package

      The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the House proposal for an economic stimulus package released January 15, would provide the largest boost to student grant aid in history.  At least $200 billion of the spending is dedicated to education, broadly defined. The entire package was carefully negotiated between House and Senate leadership and the Obama transition team, so we expect it may move quickly through Congress.

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    • V.A. Moving Forward on GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon Program

      The Department of Veteran Affairs has begun laying out the ground rules for the new Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits enacted by Congress last year.  The department published proposed regulations on December 23, and is accepting public comments until January 22.  Of particular interest to independent colleges are the proposals relating to the Yellow Ribbon program.

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  • April 28, 2008
    • Department Issues Proposed FERPA Regulations

      The Department of Education has issued a number of proposed changes in the regulations governing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  The public comment period on the proposed changes will close on May 8, 2008.

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    • Higher Education Act: The End is Near, or Is It?

      Is the never-ending saga of the Higher Education Act (HEA) bill about to end? Or are current rumors merely more of the same stuff that have trailed the beleaguered process in the past? This past week in Washington, at least three versions of the "almost done" rumor circulated through lobbyist circles.

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    • Homeland Security Proposes Increase in SEVIS Fees

      The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has released a proposal that would increase Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) fees by up to $200 per application.  Comments on the proposal, released April 21, are due by June 30, 2008.

       

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    • Momentum Growing for Expanded GI Bill

      Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and other proponents of improved educational opportunities for veterans have stepped up efforts to provide more generous benefits under the GI Bill.  The prospects for enactment of the legislation are unclear, largely due to its substantial price tag, but this past February Webb unveiled a revised bill with a number of changes to reduce its cost.  The revised bill is now attracting attention on the Hill.

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    • T.A. Collective Bargaining Back on the Front Burner

      Proposed legislation would specify that graduate teaching and research assistants at private colleges and universities are employees under the terms of the National Labor Relations Act.  If passed, the bill would effectively overturn the 2004 National Labor Relations Board ruling that graduate teaching and research assistants are students, not employees.

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    • Will Housing Market Troubles Affect Student Loans?

      So far, colleges losing lenders have been able to find alternate sources of funding, and no one yet knows of any students unable to get loan funding. So, is this just a case of frantic banks, or is a real problem at hand?  A NAICU overview and analysis of the student loan situation.

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  • August 14, 2008
    • Colleges Keep Fingers Crossed That Student Loans Remain Available this Fall

      Since last winter, colleges have been nervously awaiting August to see if students have access to the loan money they need to pay their fall tuition bills. So far, the ongoing scrambling by banks and colleges to find alternative sources of loan capital seems to have paid off, and no crisis has yet emerged.

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    • Congress Fails at Latest Attempt to Renew Tax Extenders

      The Senate failed to renew a host of popular expiring tax provisions prior to adjourning for August recess, including the IRA charitable rollover and tuition deduction for higher education expenses. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has indicated that further action on the tax extenders will have to wait until September.

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    • New Higher Ed Bill Signed by President

      The new Higher Education Act reauthorization, passed by Congress just before the August congressional recess, was signed into law by the president on August 14.  The legislation received strong bipartisan support, and was approved by large majorities of both the House and Senate.

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    • U-CAN Participants Top 700, Fall Relaunch Planned

      NAICU’s voluntary consumer information initiative, the University & College Accountability Network (U-CAN, www.ucan-network.org), has reached a milestone in campus participation. Nearly 11 months after the free, consumer-focused website was launched, the roster of private colleges and universities signed up to participate has grown to 711 institutions.

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  • February 8, 2008
  • January 30, 2008
    • Accreditation Agreement - Here's the Deal . . .

      Last month, the accreditors agreed upon language on measures of success in student achievement. A key component of the agreement among all parties was the assurance that the Secretary of Education would be restricted from prescribing standards and otherwise regulating measures of student achievement success, and lawmakers seem receptive to the request.

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    • Congress Back in Town; HEA Waiting in the Wings

      Congress has begun the second session of the 110th Congress, and the House has announced that it will take up the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization bill on Thursday, February 7 (immediately following the NAICU Annual Meeting). Education leaders in the House and Senate intend to complete all work on the reauthorization bill and send it to the president before March 31, when the current extension of the act expires.

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    • And the Rules Go Round and Round

      The Department of Education has two negotiated rule-making panels working to formulate regulations based on changes in the Higher Education Act made in the recently-passed reconciliation bill, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. One panel is focused exclusively on the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants. The other is looking at a number of changes to the loan programs, including the new income-based repayment plan and the question of a federal preemption of state law when state law conflicts with provisions of the Higher Education Act.

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    • Outreach to Youth Vote Pays Dividends

      National focus groups conducted last fall by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) showed that college students were deeply concerned about issues, involved personally as volunteers, and ready to consider voting. Youth turnout in the Iowa caucuses tripled compared to 2004. More than 84,000 18- to 29-year-olds voted in the New Hampshire primary, according to estimates by CIRCLE. That is a 271 percent increase over 2004 levels.

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    • Oops! MPAA Reveals Math Error

      The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has acknowledged that its contention that college students are responsible for 44% of the total revenue loss from the illegal downloading of movies is based on a math error in a 2005 study. It remains to be seen if this revelation affects the ongoing congressional debate on requirements on disclosures to students about institutional copyright infringement policies and sanctions.

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    • Senate Finance Committee Questions Colleges with Big Endowments

      The chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee have sent a detailed letter to 136 institutions with endowments over $500 million. The January 24 letter asks institutions to respond in 30 days about endowment spending, tuition increases, and more. It's unclear whether the committee will continue to pursue endowment payout legislation. Much will depend on what they hear from responding institutions – and if they continue to feel pressure to address college costs via the tax committees.

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  • June 12, 2008
    • Congress Passes Trillion Dollar Budget

      Congress has passed a trillion dollar spending blueprint on mostly party line votes, and has laid out plans to write the FY 2009 appropriations bills this summer. The budget plan allows Congress to spend $24.5 billion more than the president requested on the 12 annual appropriations bills, including $8.4 billion more than the president's budget for the education category.

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    • Homeland Security to Overhaul SEVIS

      The Department of Homeland Security has announced plans to overhaul the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System.  SEVIS, which was created after the September 11 terrorist attacks to better track international students, has been controversial and burdensome throughout its development.

       

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    • Peace Corps Looks to Expand Higher Ed Partnerships

      Peace Corps officials are encouraging campus leaders to explore partnership opportunities that allow students to integrate corps service with their studies.  Officials are interested in expanding the four programs described below.

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    • Revised Disabilities Act in the Works

      Legislators see a need for clarification in a number of areas because of conflicting court opinions regarding congressional intent and an excessively narrow Supreme Court interpretation of who is protected by the ADA. The ADA applies to colleges both as employers and as providers of educational services.

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    • U-CAN Announces First Major Data Overhaul

      A key factor in U-CAN's success is that the data displayed is consistent across all institutions, making it possible for students and their parents to compare profiles.  To keep the data as current as possible, we've established a regular update schedule. The spring update period began on Tuesday, June 10 and will last until July 23.  During this time, all participating institutions are asked to bring their U-CAN profile information up to date. 

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  • June 24, 2008
    • Expanded GI Bill Benefits About to Become Law

      Among other provisions, veterans with three years of service since September 11, 2001, would be eligible for a tuition benefit up to the cost of in-state tuition at the most expensive public college in a state. The in-state tuition figure is simply a cap on the tuition benefit; the same amount would be available to a veteran who chooses to attend a private institution.

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    • Higher Education Act Set to Receive Final Approval in July

      After several years of start-again, stop-again wrestling, the Higher Education Act finally stands poised for formal reauthorization.  While NAICU would prefer to continue current law over a new bill, a new bill is going to pass, and it will contain many improvements over previous versions close to enactment during the past several years.

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    • House Makes Pell Top Priority

      The House Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education appropriations has written a FY 2009 funding bill that, if enacted, would take the total 2009-10 Pell Grant maximum to $4,900 -- $100 over the president's budget request.  How the administration reacts to the bill will determine how much further into the process Congress ventures this year.

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  • June 27, 2008
    • Drive for Collection of Individual Student Data Continues

      The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the Department of Education is inviting state educational agencies to apply for grant support "to enable them to design, develop, and implement statewide, longitudinal data systems to manage, analyze, disaggregate, and use individual student data."

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    • ED's Loan Purchase Details Awaiting Publication

      The Department of Education has made public, and has sent for publication in the Federal Register, its "Notice of terms and conditions of purchase of loans under the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act [ECASLA] of 2008." It goes into effect as soon as it is published.

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    • Expanded GI Bill Benefits Cross Final Legislative Hurdle

      The measure, approved June 26, includes the provisions of the "Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act," expanding GI Bill benefits.

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    • Final TEACH Grant Regulations Published

      The final rule for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant program was published in the Federal Register on June 23.  The $4,000-per-year TEACH grants are awarded to students, based on academic merit, who agree to teach for four years in a low-income school, and to do so within eight years of graduation.

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    • Help for Colleges Seeking Direct Loan Program Certification

      Information is available directly from the Department of Education. In addition, though, the National Direct Student Loan Coalition (NDSLC) is offering peer-to-peer help for colleges unfamiliar with the Direct Loan Program.

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    • House Passes ADA Restoration Act

      The Americans with Disabilities Act Restoration Act of 2007 passed with strong bipartisan support, and clarifies the definition of disability -- reversing several U. S. Supreme Court rulings that disability advocates claim have left some with disabilities unprotected.  While ADA is considered an employment and civil rights law, colleges and universities must comply with it not only in their role as employers, but as providers of education as well.

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    • New Visa Category for Foreign Student Interns

      The State Department has announced a proposed change to its J-1 exchange visitor regulations creating a new subcategory specifically for student interns.

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    • Veterans' Education a Focus of House and Senate Committee Action

      The Veterans' Affairs Committees of both the House and Senate are considering a series of legislative proposals dealing with veterans' benefits - including measures on how to address the interruption of a student's education due to military service.

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  • March 25, 2008
    • HEA Extended for a Month as Conference Continues

      House and Senate higher education committee staff have been meeting furiously for weeks to iron out differences on the House and Senate versions of the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization bills.

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    • House and Senate Budgets Up the Ante on Education Spending

      The House and Senate budget committees have tackled the annual task of creating a congressional budget resolution – a non-binding budget plan – for Fiscal Year 2009.  Both budget plans, presented March 5 and 6,  reject the president's proposal to cut spending and eliminate programs, and propose substantial increases in discretionary spending, especially education.

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    • House Committee Explores Loan Crisis, Views Secretary's Assurances Skeptically

      The House Education and Labor Committee held a full committee hearing on March 7 to explore the ramifications for students and academic institutions of the current crisis in the financial markets.  Democrats and Republicans alike expressed concern that the Department of Education had yet to assess and prepare adequately for a credit crisis that could affect access to student loans.

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    • Negotiations Continue on Loan Provisions

      The negotiated rule-making team charged with crafting regulations for recent changes to loan provisions has scheduled a fourth session for April. The additional session was necessitated by the group’s inability to reach consensus on certain payments to lenders as calculated under the new income-based repayment plan. 

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  • May 12, 2008
    • House Plans to Add Vet Benefits to Supplemental Bill

      A majority of members in both the House and Senate have endorsed bills. However, plans to include the GI Bill increases in the supplemental appropriations bill are being resisted by the fiscally conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats in the House, who argue that the cost of the measure must be offset under budget "pay-as-you-go" rules.  (NAICU staff members participate in rally on Capitol Hill.)

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    • House Extends Anti-Trust Protection for Need-Blind Colleges

      The anti-trust exemption that allows colleges practicing need-blind admissions to develop common practices for assessing need was approved for a permanent extension by the House of Representatives on April 30. The bill now is before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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    • Massachusetts Looks at Nation's First Endowment Tax

      Desperate to fill a budget gap, the Massachusetts legislature is considering a college endowment tax. The proposal, believed to be unprecedented in the United States, would apply to institutions with endowments larger than $1 billion.

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    • Washington Takes Steps to Avert Student Loan Crisis

      Both Congress and the administration took significant steps in the past 10 days to help avert a credit crisis in the student loan programs. In stark contrast to progress on the Higher Education Act, Congress acted with unusual alacrity to pass legislation designed to avoid a potential breakdown of the student loan system.

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    • Academic Competitiveness/SMART Grants: Some Fixes

      Tagged onto the end of last week's student loan liquidity legislation were amendments to Academic Competitiveness and SMART grant programs. Many of these changes are important to private colleges.

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  • May 28, 2008
    • Expanded GI Benefits Advance Through Congress

      Legislation expanding GI Bill benefits continues to make its way through Congress as part of the Iran-Afghanistan supplemental appropriations bill.  The House has approved an amendment under which veterans with three years of service since September 11, 2001, would be eligible for a tuition benefit up to the cost of in-state tuition at the most expensive public college in a state.  Further battles and a possible veto lie ahead, though.

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    • HEA Reauthorization Takes a Sad and Unexpected Turn

      The news of Sen. Edward Kennedy's brain tumor sent shock-waves throughout Washington.  But no one who has been around the Hill would presume that his prognosis would slow down his legislative agenda. Fighter that he is, Kennedy is just as likely to be motivated to work even harder to get passage of legislation he cares about, such as reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

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    • House Passes Extension of IRA Rollover, Tuition Deduction

      The House has now passed legislation affecting renewable energy, and extending tax provisions that expired at the end of 2007. H.R. 6049, passed on May 21, includes a one-year extension of both the IRA charitable rollover and the above-the-line tuition deduction.  The Senate outlook remains uncertain, though.

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    • IRS Planning Review of Charitable Activities of Colleges and Universities

      The IRS recently announced that they will be looking at public and private four-year colleges and universities to ensure the institutions are fulfilling their charitable missions. As many as 400 to 500 colleges and universities will receive a questionnaire from the IRS in the near future.

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    • Prospects for Federal Student Loans Improve

      The Department of Education and Department of the Treasury appear to have helped ease fears of an immediate crisis around the availability of federal student loans though a deal on implementing the newly passed emergency legislation on student loans.  This positive move by the federal government is an encouraging sign, after the grave concerns about student access to FFELP loans this past winter and spring.

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    • Time to Order State Voter Registration Forms

      Under the 1998 Higher Education Act, all postsecondary institutions have to make a good-faith effort to distribute state voter registration forms to each degree- or certificate-seeking student who attends classes on campus.  Colleges must request state voter registration forms 120 days prior to their state's voter registration deadline -- which is in June for most states.  For the specific deadline for your state, go to the state map on the Your Vote, Your Voice Web site.

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  • October 6, 2008
  • September 15, 2008
    • Endowments, College Costs Discussed at Grassley/Welch Roundtable

      While the discussion took place in the Senate Finance Committee hearing room, it was not an official committee function, and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) were the only congressional participants.  Grassley made no commitments on future legislation, but seemed to lean toward self-regulation, instead of a mandated endowment payout.  Welch, however, remains skeptical of the self-regulatory approach.

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    • Higher Education Act "Neg Reg" Process Begins

      Kick-off of the public hearings to shape HEA regulations will be at Texas Christian University on September 19, with TCU Chancellor and NAICU Board Chair Victor Boschini opening the session. The Department of Education will conduct the hearing as a first-come, first-served open-mike opportunity for interested parties to comment on the legislation.

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    • IRS Set to Launch College and University Study

      A senior Internal Revenue Service official has announced that the IRS will soon mail out a questionnaire to colleges and universities as part of its review of the charitable activities of these institutions.  The questionnaire will be sent to approximately 400 public and private four-year colleges and universities, and institutions will have 90 days to respond.

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    • NAICU Rolls Out Second Loan Survey

      NAICU rolled out its second student loan survey on September 10 to assess the effects of the capital crisis on student loan availability.  Congress is already using early responses to the new survey in shaping a one-year extension of the emergency student loan provisions approved last May.  NAICU encourages all member institutions to complete the survey as soon as possible.

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    • Senate Passes ADA, Almost Ready for President

      The Senate has passed reauthorization of the Americans with Disabilities Act by voice vote, clarifying the definition of disability.  The new version that has passed the Senate now will be sent back to the House for passage under suspension of the rules on September 17, and then will then go to the White House for signature.

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  • September 30, 2008
    • Bush Signs ADA Amendments

      President Bush has signed into law amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which his father originally approved in 1990.  Private colleges and universities must comply with the law as employers and as providers of educational instruction.

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    • Ensuring the Rights of College Students to Vote

      Recent weeks have brought accounts of students being given conflicting advice on how best to cast their ballot. The news media have detailed how the confusion is playing out in Virginia - but Virginia is not alone. Barriers to student voting have been raised in states across the country - from Maine to Tennessee, from North Carolina to Michigan.

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    • House and Senate Deadlocked Over Tax Extenders

      The IRA charitable rollover and the tuition deduction remain in limbo as Congress once again failed to agree on an extension of a host of tax breaks that expired last year. Members in both chambers continue to disagree over the cost of the bill, and how or if that cost must be offset.

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    • In Tough Times, Congress Stands by Pell Grant

      Despite days of bitter and tumultuous activity on overall economic recovery legislation still to be resolved, Congress found the resources to infuse the Pell Grant program with an unprecedented $2.5 billion in extra funding this past weekend. The funding is to help pay down a massive program shortfall that only became public knowledge last week. With this new funding, Congress has given an enormous vote of confidence to the program.

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    • Regional Meetings on HEA Implementation Begin

      Leading off with a meeting at Texas Christian University, the Department of Education has conducted the first two of six regional meetings to seek the public's views on how it should proceed with negotiated rulemaking on the new Higher Education Act.

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