Washington Update

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  • December 2
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      The elections are (mostly) behind us and Congress is now back in session focused on leadership issues and its lame duck priorities. As I wrote to you in my Action Alert earlier this week, one of our key priorities is ensuring the FY 2023 appropriations bill includes the proposed $500 increase to the Pell Grant maximum award and the proposed increases in the other major federal student and institutional aid programs.

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    • Veterans Affairs Launching New Enrollment Platform

      The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it is phasing out its enrollment and certification platform, VA-ONCE, and launching a new platform called Enrollment Manager in January 2023. 

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    • Congress Continues Focus on Student Mental Health

      In the latest sign of interest in the student mental health crisis, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing earlier this week that focused on how to support students as they transition from high school to college.

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    • Guidance Makes Student Bankruptcy Easier

      The Department of Justice (DOJ) collaborated with the Department of Education (ED) to ease the burden on students who seek to cancel their student loans through bankruptcy. The new guidance issued by DOJ advises its attorneys to consider the facts presented in every case that demonstrate a debt owed by the borrower would impose an undue hardship.

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  • November 18
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      The implications of the recent elections continue to emerge, most obviously with the Republicans taking over the majority in the House of Representatives and yesterday’s announcement by the Democratic leadership in the House that they will be stepping aside to allow new leaders to emerge. Decisions about most of the other key leadership slots in the House and Senate appear to be going as expected despite the elections being closer than most predicted. After caucus meetings this week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will remain top Republican leaders and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) seems to be keeping his Majority Leader status in the Senate.

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    • Courts Halt the Forgiveness of Federal Student Loans

      The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency request to halt the Biden Administration’s student loan debt forgiveness program and a Texas district court struck down the program as well. Due to these decisions, the Biden Administration has already appealed the Texas district court decision and announced in a court filing yesterday that it is appealing the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to the Supreme Court. 

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    • Ruling Allows Department to Move Forward on Borrower Defense Claims

      A federal judge in California has ruled on a class action settlement allowing the Department of Education to move forward on the approval of applications for thousands of borrowers. Under the deal, the Department will be able to discharge more than $6 billion owed by approximately 200,000 borrowers who had pending borrower defense to repayment claims against one of 151 schools, which were mostly for-profit institutions.

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    • Bill Would Expand Study Abroad Opportunities for College Students

      NAICU joined more than 50 organizations in endorsing the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program, introduced this week in the House and Senate. This bipartisan legislation, co-sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Representatives Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and John Katko (R-NY), renames and revamps a Department of State program to expand study abroad opportunities for underrepresented American college students and to nontraditional locations. 

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  • November 11
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      In Washington this week, as in the rest of the country, the talk has been about the elections. With the results much closer than predicted, perhaps our biggest takeaway is how the election leaves us with a similar political divide to the one we had before November 8, as many Americans continue to have deep blue or red identities. But an emerging observation is that the many unexpected outcomes since Tuesday night indicate that many Americans have a growing frustration with extremism and want a return to a more civil discourse.

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    • Final Rules Released by the Department of Education

      A number of final rules stemming from the past year’s two negotiated rulemaking sessions were recently released by the Department of Education and will impact private, nonprofit colleges and universities in a number of ways. The final rules amend the regulations regarding borrower defense to repayment, interest capitalization, public service loan forgiveness, closed school discharge, false certification discharge, total and permanent disability discharge, 90/10 for proprietary institutions, change in ownership/change in control, and prison education programs.  NAICU has created an overview of the final regulations, which were released in October and November.

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  • November 4
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      Much of our focus this week has been on pouring through the nearly 1,200 pages of final regulatory language that the Department of Education released just prior to the November 1 Master Calendar deadline. These final regulations cover new rules on governing boards to address for-profit conversions, enhancements to student debt relief, including institutional liability when schools have misled borrowers or not delivered on their educational promises, new standards for prison education programs, and changes to the for-profit 90/10 rules.

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    • Supreme Court Hears Affirmative Action Cases

      The Supreme Court held oral arguments this week in two cases that will determine the fate of affirmative action in higher education. The two cases – one involving the University of North Carolina (UNC) and the other involving Harvard University – are expected to give the new conservative majority on the Court a chance to overturn long-standing precedents on affirmative action that have narrowly permitted race-conscious admissions programs in higher education. 

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  • October 28
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      Earlier this week, the College Board released its annual Trends in College Pricing and Trends in Student Aid reports. The reports include significant data on costs, aid, including institutional aid and Pell Grants, enrollment trends, college finances, and more and are important tools in helping tell the complete story of pricing and debt in our sector and all of higher education.

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    • New Details Emerge Regarding Public Service Loan Forgiveness

      The Department of Education continues to make regular announcements expanding various aspects of its loan forgiveness programs.  Earlier this week, it announced that it is clarifying how past payments made under an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan will count as credited toward both IDR forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) for any months in which a borrower has a certified qualifying employment on loans borrowed as a student. 

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  • October 21
  • October 14
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      This week, I was pleased to attend the Times Higher Education World Academic Summit in New York City, which brought together some of the world’s most influential leaders and researchers to discuss how to identify and meet the rising expectations placed on higher education. The ideas and themes discussed during the summit are similar to those our Board of Directors and leadership will be addressing next week during our Fall Leadership Conference. Those conversations will be centered on issues such as affordability, cost, and the “value” of a higher education and will help guide our communications and advocacy work as we prepare for the upcoming 118th Congress.

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    • Private, Nonprofits Continue to Have the Lowest Cohort Default Rates

      During a briefing on the FY 2019 Cohort Default Rates (CDRs), the Department of Education revealed that the official national CDR had decreased 68.5% from the previous year to a rate of just 2.3%.  The FY 2018 CDR was 7.3%.

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    • Biden Administration Previews Student Loan Debt Application

      The Biden Administration unveiled the application borrowers will need to complete to apply for student loan debt forgiveness. This serves as the first official document that has been released to give borrowers an idea of what to expect when seeking loan forgiveness.

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    • New Resource Helps Colleges and Universities Following Disasters

      According to the Department of Education, since 2017, there have been over 300 presidentially declared major disasters across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Outlying Areas.  In response, the Department created a one-stop National Disaster Resource page listing a multitude of useful links to help colleges and universities “restore learning” and address the needs of students and communities after a declared federal disaster.

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  • October 7
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      Since last week, President Biden has visited Puerto Rico and Florida to survey the extensive damage caused by the two recent hurricanes and discuss and strategize with local leaders the way forward to begin rebuilding.  I know that our colleagues there, as well as in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and along the east coast, are still very much struggling with the hurricane aftermath.
       

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    • CFPB Regulates Transcript Withholding Practices

      A report released this week by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that institutions had violated the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) by withholding the official transcripts of students who owe money as a blanket policy.  As a result, the CFPB is prohibiting institutions from withholding transcripts from students who were extended credit by the institution as a means to retrieve payment. 

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    • Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination Released

      The Biden Administration released new Title IX guidance that reminds institutions of the prohibition against excluding students or employees from educational programs or activities based on pregnancy or related conditions and reiterates the obligation to treat pregnancy or a related condition the same as any other temporary disability. 
       

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  • September 30
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      As I write this, Tropical Storm Ian is still moving through Florida and headed toward the coasts of Georgia and the Carolinas where it may once again gather steam and pick up wind speed to reform as a hurricane.

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    • Biden Loan Forgiveness Proposal Faces Legal Challenges

      Two lawsuits attempting to block the forward movement of the Biden Administration’s plan to cancel student loan debt have been filed this week. The first was filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group and the other lawsuit was filed by six Republican-led states. Both lawsuits argue that the mass cancellation of student loan debt is an illegal abuse of authority.
       

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    • Congress Expected to Avoid Shutdown

      With the new fiscal year beginning Saturday, October 1, Congress is poised to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded past the November mid-term elections. The CR maintains current FY 2022 funding levels across the government and includes additional funds for the war in Ukraine. Supplemental funding for COVID relief and monkeypox vaccines was dropped from the CR, but emergency assistance was added for clean water in Mississippi, flood relief in the Midwest, and hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.
      The extension expires December 16, allowing time for members to reconvene in a lame duck session and finalize FY 2023 funding levels.
       

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    • FSA Data Show No Change in Number of Student Loan Recipients, Increase in Loan Balances

      The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) released an update on the student loan portfolio. As of June 30, 2022, approximately 43 million student loan borrowers owe about $1.62 trillion in outstanding loans. This represents an increase of $26 billion in the outstanding loan balance since last year, and no change in the number of student loan recipients.
       

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    • Third Quarter HEERF Spending Reports Due October 10

      The next round of quarterly budget and expenditure reporting for Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) is due to the Department of Education by October 10.  This report covers activities from July-September 2022.  

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    • National Educational Technology Plan

      The Office of Educational Technology (OET) in the Department of Education held a national digital equity summit to share its educational technology plan, the flagship educational technology policy document for the United States. In developing this plan, OET created a digital equity education roundtable (DEER) initiative.

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  • September 23
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      I hope the start to your academic year has been smooth, safe, and successful and as close to pre-pandemic normality as possible. In another example of things returning to their pre-pandemic ways, the NAICU staff and I are beginning to see our own signs that some of the events, meetings, and other gatherings we used to take for granted are once again being held in-person. 

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    • Rep. Foxx Previews Higher Education Reform Plans

      Last week, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Republican leader of the House Committee on Education and Labor, laid out her plans for reforming the higher education system at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  The proposals and ideas highlighted by Rep. Foxx could be a precursor of what to expect should the Republicans take over the majority in the House of Representatives. 

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    • Student Loan Forgiveness Plan Spurs Markup in the House

      A recent markup in the House Committee on Education and Labor provided a glimpse into the partisan divide emerging on President Biden’s debt forgiveness plan.  The markup was focused on three pieces of legislation, two of which deal with higher education and were introduced by Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC).  While all legislative initiatives were reported unfavorably to the House Floor, they foreshadow the likely political maneuverings expected to take place on the President’s plan.

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    • Student Loan Debate Continues

      Bobby Scott (D-VA), chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, introduced the Lowering Obstacles to Achievement Now (LOAN) Act earlier this week to “lower the cost of college for current and future student borrowers.”  The LOAN Act comes on the heels of the Responsible Education Assistance through Loan (REAL) Reforms Act introduced this summer by Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC). 

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    • CBO Looking at Loan Forgiveness Costs

      The Biden Administration’s proposal to provide one-time loan forgiveness targeted at low- and middle-income borrowers is being scrutinized from all angles, including the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  Responding to a request from Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) for information on how estimates of the costs of the student loan programs have changed since 2010, the CBO indicated it is currently looking into the potential costs to the government should the administrative action materialize. The CBO says it will publish its analysis as soon as it is completed. 

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  • September 16
  • September 9
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      Like your students returning to campus, policy makers are back in Washington on Capitol Hill preparing for the final push of the 117th Congress. Two key items on their to-do list include working on the FY 2023 budget, and avoiding a government shutdown, and preparing for the November mid-term elections. In the Administration, we are preparing for a robust regulatory agenda that will also have an impact on higher education.

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    • More Details Emerge Regarding Student Loan Debt Forgiveness

      While the broad parameters of President Biden’s executive action on student loan forgiveness have been widely publicized, the Administration has now provided additional detail on the process borrowers must take to apply for forgiveness and the types of loans that will be forgiven. The President’s executive order reported that borrowers making up to $125,000, and families making up to $250,000, would be eligible for student loan debt relief. Borrowers who received a Pell Grant would be eligible for up to $20,000 in debt relief and all other borrowers would be eligible for up to $10,000 in debt relief. 

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    • Continuing Resolution Needed to Avoid Government Shutdown

      Congress has one job it must do before the end of September – keep the government open and avoid a shutdown. However, since the House and Senate have not completed work on the dozen individual appropriations bills, they will need to agree on the make up of a continuing resolution (CR) before they can go home to campaign for the mid-term elections. 

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  • September 2
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      As we gear up for the Labor Day weekend and make plans to celebrate and pay tribute to American workers, here at NAICU we continue to have our eyes focused on the activities of Congress and the Biden Administration. We find ourselves in that two-month period heading into the Congressional midterm elections where Members of Congress are spending more time in their districts and states working on their campaigns.

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    • President Signs Bill Helping Student Veterans

      After passing its final hurdles in Congress earlier this month, President Biden signed into law the Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act on August 26, allowing student veterans access to the programs and majors they desire to pursue as early as this fall. 
       

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    • Homeland Security Announces Final Rule on DACA

      In a move intended to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule implementing the agency’s proposed regulations.  
       

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  • August 26
  • August 19
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      With the Congress away on its annual August recess and the President away on vacation, the pace in Washington has slowed significantly. This is in stark contrast to your campus communities, some of which have already welcomed students back for the Fall semester. The start of a new academic year is an exciting time and I hope you all have a successful year.

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    • GI Bill 85/15 Fix Passes Congress

      After months of behind-the-scenes work, and two congressional hearings this summer, Congress last week passed by unanimous consent S. 4458, the Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act, and sent it to the president for signature. 

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    • Education Secretary Cardona Hosts Summit on College Excellence and Equity

      College leaders gathered last week in Washington for a summit to hear Education Secretary Miguel Cardona lay out a vision for higher education.  The gathering, Raise the B.A.R. (Bold Action and Results), focused on how to increase student success as well as the many challenges students face to complete college.

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    • Grants Available to Help Institutions Support Students to Complete

      A new $5 million grant program designed to support postsecondary student success at institutions with low resources and large enrollments of low-income, minority or at-risk students was announced August 11 by the Department of Education. The Postsecondary Student Success Grants for FY 2022 were announced during the Department’s Raise the B.A.R. (Bold Action and Results) Summit.
       

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  • August 12
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      As I’ve written the past few weeks, August is typically a quiet time here in Washington. It is usually the only time most people associated with Congress can take leave and the only time left in the calendar when it seems we can depend on Congress not to be in session.

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    • Student Loan Debate Heating Up

      As the Biden Administration continues to look for ways to forgive or cancel student loan debt to fulfill one of the president’s key campaign promises, two developments have surfaced that will ensure debt-related issues remain on the front-burner of the policy debate.  

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  • August 5
  • July 29
  • July 22
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      As a heatwave consumed Washington, DC (and much of the rest of the country) this week, legislative and regulatory action has also heated up as policymakers look to get as much accomplished as they can prior to their August break. This week we saw significant regulatory moves from the Biden Administration and the courts and important appropriations action on Capitol Hill.

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    • New Guidance on Changing Accreditors Released

      The Department of Education released guidance that establishes a new approval process for institutions seeking to switch to a new accreditor or add an additional accrediting agency. The guidance, which consists of three separate documents, is designed to address the Department’s concern that recent developments in accreditation will lead to a “race to the bottom in quality standards among accrediting agencies.”

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    • Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Released by the Department

      The Department of Education released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on multiple topics that were discussed in the Affordability and Student Loans Committee from the negotiated rulemaking session in the Fall of 2021. Interested parties must submit comments on the proposed regulations by August 12. The Department is expected to have a rule finalized by November 1, which would mean the new regulations would go into effect on July 1, 2023.

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    • FY 2023 Appropriations Outlook

      As the 2022 election cycle heats up and political tensions increase, it is increasingly clear that Congress will keep the government open after the federal fiscal year ends on September 30 through a temporary Continuing Resolution (CR).  This CR will extend through mid-November, with no final deal likely before Congress goes home for the Christmas break. 

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    • Court Temporarily Halts Enforcement of LGBTQ Guidance

      A federal district court ruled in favor of 20 states that challenged Department of Education guidance regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students. The preliminary injunction issued by the court will temporarily block enforcement of the guidance in the states that sued.

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  • July 15
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      As Congress sprints toward its August recess, there are several issues we will be following during the next two weeks. One of the key issues we will be watching closely is action on appropriations, especially the FY 2023 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee bill, which funds student aid.

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    • Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Considers Bill to Fix 85/15

      The Senate Committee on Veteran's Affairs held a legislative hearing on a variety of bills related to veterans issues, including the Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act of 2022.  This bill would fix the regulatory problem institutions are having with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recent policy changes related to the 85/15 rule. 

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    • Final HEERF Grants Awarded

      The Department of Education has awarded the final $198 million in American Rescue Plan Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants to support students at community colleges, rural, and Minority-Serving Institutions.  In total, 244 public and private, nonprofit institutions are receiving resources from this final tranche of funds. 

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  • July 8
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      Two weeks ago, we reported on the Biden Administration’s release of its long-awaited proposed amendments to the rules governing how colleges and universities handle sex discrimination on their campuses.

      In general, the proposed regulations expand the scope of Title IX while streamlining certain procedural requirements and providing additional protections for victims of sex discrimination. The proposed rules, which differ from both the Obama-era guidance and the Trump Administration’s regulations, would remove some requirements that apply to colleges and universities while adding new ones in their place.

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  • June 30
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      Due to the July 4 holiday, Washington Update is publishing a day early this week. I hope you are able to find time for some rest and relaxation over the next few days as the country celebrates and honors its independence. 

      This is also the time when official Washington takes a break from its duties here in the nation’s capital. While the Senate has already started its recess, the House of Representatives will soon follow once it has completed its committee work this week.

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    • House Committee Appears Set to Approve FY 2023 Student Aid Funding

      In keeping with its goal of passing all appropriations bills before the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1, the House Committee on Appropriations is busy this week holding mark ups on several bills.  Of note for higher education is the FY 2023 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee bill, which funds student aid. 

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  • June 24
  • June 17
  • June 10
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues: 

      The summer months for Congress are similar to students cramming for finals. Congress is trying to get as much legislation written and passed as possible in a short period of time. Two important dates on the calendar to get bills passed are the July 4th recess and the August summer break.

      With that in mind, we are also expecting to have a correlating ramp-up in activity. Just some of the key issues we know will be at the forefront are:

      • The Pell Grant’s 50th Anniversary
      • Advocacy work to fix the veteran programs’ 35% waiver and 85/15 problems
      • Title IX
      • Next steps on regulations emerging from negotiated rulemaking

      We will keep you up-to-date on actions related to these and other issues affecting higher education with Action Alerts, updates here in future Washington Updates, and other communications. 

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    • House Sets FY23 Spending Limit at $1.6 Trillion

      The House of Representatives passed a resolution deeming the total spending allocation for the federal government's annual appropriations at $1.6 trillion for fiscal year 2023.

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    • Secretary Cardona Testifies in Senate on Budget

      Cardona and Senators Patt Murray (D-WA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) all spoke of the importance of increasing the Pell Grant maximum award.

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    • NAICU Joins Amicus Brief in College Athletics Case

      Case will determine whether division I student athletes are employees of the colleges they attend for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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  • June 3
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      With Congress gone for a Memorial Day break, this has been a quiet week on the policy front in Washington. However, we have been working on several longer-term projects, including determining next steps on addressing the concerns over the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reset of the 85/15 waiver and preparing for the 50th Anniversary of the Pell Grant program on June 23, 2022.

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  • May 27
  • May 20
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleague:

      The Department of Education has invited NAICU and several other higher education associations to a listening session on June 13 to provide feedback on a series of questions related to the Department’s regulations governing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the federal law that prohibits disability discrimination in federally funded education programs or activities (see our story in today’s Washington Update for more details). This effort is part of the agency’s plan to amend the existing rules.

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    • Biden Administration Seeks Feedback on Disability Regulations

      The Department of Education has invited several higher education associations, including NAICU, to a listening session on June 13 to receive input regarding the Department’s disability discrimination regulations. 

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    • House Education Committee Advances Bills on Campus Supportive Services

      The House Committee on Education and Labor held a mark-up this week on a series of education-related legislative proposals, including bills addressing campus mental health, substance abuse, and special education services.  The committee voted to advance all three bills, with the mental health and substance abuse bills passing by voice vote and the more controversial special education legislation passing in a party-line vote.

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  • May 13
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      One of the myths about higher education that has persisted, most recently in an editorial by The Wall Street Journal, is the notion that increasing federal financial aid drives up the cost of college.  While this theory, also known as the Bennet hypothesis, has been debunked by many higher education economists and by federal studies conducted by three previous presidential administrations, it is a topic we are forced to continue addressing.  And, I know many of you have had to try and set the record straight on this issue with your elected officials as well. 

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    • Grants Available to Help Native American and Low-Income Students

      The Department of Education is expecting to award a total of six grants, with a maximum award of $350,000 for a year, to eligible institutions of higher education to assist them in improving and expanding their capacity to serve Native Americans and low-income students. Applications are due July 11, 2022.
       

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  • May 6
  • April 29
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      The problems with the new rules on 85/15 reporting on GI Bill benefits at colleges continue to mount this week. We have been notified that additional NAICU members have received letters from the Department of Veterans Affairs notifying them that some of their educational programs have been suspended from eligibility for veteran enrollment, which will cause havoc for student veterans. If your institution has received such a letter, please notify Stephanie Giesecke, NAICU’s senior director of budget and appropriations at Stephanie@naicu.edu

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    • VA Seeks to Answer Questions Regarding 85/15 Rule

      After technical difficulties scuttled its original plan, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) finally held its Education Service Office Hours this week for School Certifying Officials (SCOs). The office hour training sessions covered a variety of topics, including the 85/15 rule and the 35% waiver, and sought to clear up confusion and answer questions regarding definitions and other components of the two issues.

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    • Sec. Cardona Makes the Case for FY 2023 Budget; Calls for Doubling Pell

      Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education to make the case for the administration’s budget request for FY 2023. During this testimony, Cardona called on Congress to build on the $400 Pell Grant increase provided in the FY 2022 appropriations bill, and to double the maximum award by 2029, starting with a $1,775 increase for FY 2023.

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    • Second Chance Pell Expanded

      The Second Chance Pell experimental site, which provides access to Pell Grants for incarcerated students, was expanded to include an additional 73 institutions, including 15 NAICU members. This experimental site began in 2015 under the Obama Administration, providing Pell Grants in up to 67 programs through postsecondary education initiatives in state and federal prisons. The program was expanded for the 2019-2020 academic year (AY) to allow up to 67 additional programs to participate and expanded once again for the 2022-2023 AY.  This week’s expansion brings the total number of colleges and universities participating to 200.

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  • April 22
  • April 14
  • April 8
  • April 1
  • March 25
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      I know the war in Ukraine still weighs heavily on your minds and those of your students, faculty, and campus community. The impacts of the war are wide-ranging, including directly affecting students and campus programs.

      This week, NAICU participated in a listening session held by the Department of State’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs, Ethan Rosenzweig. The session was held to provide an opportunity for U.S. higher education associations to share thoughts and concerns with the State Department on issues related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the impact on our institutions’ international exchanges and academic collaboration with the regions. While all U.S. students who were on exchange or in other international study programs in Russia and Ukraine have safely returned to the U.S., the State Department continues to work to support both Russian and Ukrainian students studying in the U.S.

      I remain hopeful for an end to the hostilities and pray for a peaceful resolution to the war.

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    • On Most Issues Consensus Eludes Negotiated Rulemaking Committee

      The Institutional and Programmatic Eligibility negotiated rulemaking committee concluded its three-months of work last week having covered many issues critical to private, nonprofit higher education. Of the seven broad topics considered, each of which had several underlying issues to be negotiated, consensus was reached on just two, one of which, the ability to benefit, applies to private, nonprofit higher education.  

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    • New Policy to Hold Owners of Colleges Accountable Announced

      The Department of Education announced a new policy this week that would require certain companies that own private, nonprofit or for-profit colleges to be held liable for government losses related to the sudden closing of a college or engagement in fraud.  While colleges themselves have traditionally been liable for these costs, this new policy would also hold private firms that own the colleges responsible.  The new policy will take effect on July 1, 2022.

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    • VA Delays 85/15 Reporting

      The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has pushed back the reporting deadline for the reset of the 35 percent waiver and the 85/15 rule regarding the use of GI Bill benefits for educational purposes to June 30, 2022.  This marks the third delay of implementation since the reset first rolled out in October of 2020. 

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    • Grants Available for Foreign Language Instruction

      The Department of Education has announced more than $2 million for a new Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language (UISFL) grant. From the $2.18 million available, an estimated 27 awards will be made for a 12-month period, with grants ranging from $70,000 to $120,000, depending on the size and scope of the project. The deadline for applications is May 31, 2022.

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  • March 18
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleague:

      March madness isn’t just taking place on basketball courts around the country. It also happens to be an apt description of all the legislative, regulatory, and policy activities that took place this week in Washington. From the Pell Grant to negotiated-rulemaking and from issues affecting international students and veteran students, there were many topics we covered this week that will impact our campuses.

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    • House Committee Looking at New Veterans Legislation

      The House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) held a hearing earlier this week to review draft legislation related to a variety of benefits provided for veterans, with a particular emphasis on the issues they face in education, employment, and housing. 

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    • Nonprofit Charitable Giving Focus of Senate Hearing

      This week, the Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing examining charitable giving and trends in the nonprofit sector.  It was a welcome bipartisan discussion of the current charitable giving incentives in the tax code, the pandemic stimulus incentives that have largely expired, and what new incentives might be considered to spur additional giving.

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    • Congress Seeks Answers on Threats to HBCUs

      Following Congress’ unanimous passage last week of a concurrent resolution that condemns threats of violence against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and reaffirms support for HBCUs and their students, the House Oversight and Reform Committee held a bi-partisan hearing on the continuing bomb threats to HBCUs.  The committee heard emotional testimony from HBCU students and questioned federal agencies about the status of their ongoing investigations. 

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  • March 11
  • March 4
  • February 25
  • February 18
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      What had started as a relatively quiet week in Washington, with the House in recess, was amped up last night as the Senate finally passed the continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown. The Senate’s action keeps the government open through March 11, as attention now turns to the FY 2022 omnibus package. This week’s lead story provides more detail on the CR and next steps on the budget.

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    • Parties Maneuver to Avoid Government Shutdown

      Last night the Senate passed the continuing resolution (CR), which the House passed last week, keeping the government open until March 11. While Senate consideration took longer than expected, passage ensures the government will remain open for several more weeks. 

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    • $415 Million to be Forgiven in Student Loans

      Due to further processing of borrower defense to repayment claims by the Department of Education, nearly 16,000 student loan borrowers are projected to receive $415 million in total student loan forgiveness. Recipients of the loan forgiveness are student borrowers who attended DeVry University, Westwood College, Corinthian Colleges, the nursing program at ITT Technical Institute, the criminal justice programs at the Minnesota School of Business and Globe University, and Marinello Schools of Beauty. 

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  • February 11
    • Introduction by Barbara Mistick

      Today marks the culmination of an extraordinary week for NAICU. On Monday, we convened our 2022 Annual Meeting & Advocacy Day, our first in-person meeting in two years. What a remarkable meeting we had, with over 400 registrants, speakers and panelists from the Biden Administration and several Members of Congress and their staff who shared their insights about the future of higher education and the impact of private, nonprofit higher education nationally.

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    • Congress Avoids Shutdown

      Congress is poised to pass a continuing resolution (CR) that will keep the government open through March 11, which will allow for the time needed to finalize the details of the FY 2022 spending bills. 

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    • Updated College Scorecard Restores National Comparison Data

      The Department of Education is once again including national comparison data in its recently-updated College Scorecard.  Adding this comparison data back to the Scorecard is notable because it has the potential to provide consumers with a misleading or incomplete impression of an institution’s value. 

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  • February 4
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      I cannot begin my weekly thoughts without first mentioning the tragedy at Bridgewater College (VA), where two beloved campus security officials were senselessly killed, and the numerous threats this past week directed at our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and at least one faith-based institution. As we all continue to work through the various pressures of daily life augmented by the relentless pandemic, this week’s stories still have the capacity to stop us cold in our tracks.

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    • Final HEERF Funding Available

      The final $198 million in Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) is now available to colleges and universities, the Department of Education announced this week. Deadline to apply for the funds is April 4, 2022. 

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    • House Passes America COMPETES Act

      This morning, the House of Representatives passed the America COMPETES Act.  The bill would authorize more than $200 billion in research funds across multiple federal agencies, and would reauthorize Title VI International Education of the Higher Education Act.  At the same time, it also includes tighter scrutiny and restrictions on institutions that receive funding from foreign entities.

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  • January 28
  • January 21
    • Introduction by Barbara Mistick

      As 2022 gets into full swing, this week saw significant activity at the agency level within the Biden Administration that will affect higher education, including at the Departments Education, Homeland Security, and State. 

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    • New and Expanded Uses for HEERF Funds Announced

      The Department of Education announced a series of actions to continue to help students and institutions address the ongoing pandemic.  The Department issued new guidance on the expanded uses of existing Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) funds to address student basic needs that will help them stay in college. The agency also announced that it will award the remaining funds under HEERF to address ongoing needs related to coronavirus.

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    • White House Announces a Series of New STEM Initiatives

      Today, the Departments of State and Homeland Security (DHS) announced a set of new agency policies designed to expand access to opportunities in the U.S. for international students and other immigrant and non-immigrant visitors with expertise in a variety of STEM fields.
       

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    • CFPB Investigates Private Student Loan Lending

      The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that it will begin investigating private student lending at colleges and universities for compliance with federal consumer protection laws. The investigation will examine the actions that institutions offering private student loans take against students, including withholding transcripts from students who owe debts and preventing students from enrolling in classes if they are late on their loan payments. 

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  • January 14
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      On Monday, the nation will remember and honor the life and work of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. I hope you will find time this weekend to safely celebrate and mark this day of service with your campus community. Dr. King’s memory continues to serve as an example in how to lead, inspire, and make change.

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    • Supreme Court Blocks Implementation of OSHA Vaccine Rule

      The Supreme Court issued an injunction halting implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) rule that established an emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring large employers to impose a vaccine or testing mandate on their employees. As a result of the Court’s injunction, the OSHA rule will remain blocked from taking effect while the lower courts evaluate the legality of the mandate. 

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    • Institutional Accountability Negotiated Rulemaking Committee Members Named

      The Institutional and Programmatic Eligibility Committee, a new negotiated rulemaking committee formed by the Department of Education to focus on institutional accountability, has announced the names of those who will serve as facilitators and negotiators. The following negotiators will represent the private, nonprofit sector of higher education when the committee begins its work on January 18: Kelli Hudson Perry, assistant vice president for finance and controller, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; and Emmanual A. Guillory, director of student and institutional aid policy, NAICU.

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    • State Department Proposes Increases in Visa Fees

      The Department of State recently issued a proposed rule that would increase fees for non-immigrant visas to offset the expense of the consular services required for their administration.  The proposed increases come after a study by the Bureau of Consular Affairs assessed the cost of providing these services. 

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  • January 7
  • 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