Washington Update

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  • June 14
  • June 7
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      With Memorial Day behind us, Washington is gearing up for an active summer of activity that will keep us all focused and engaged. I’d like to start this week with a bit of good news. A few weeks ago, I mentioned NAICU’s involvement in the National College Attainment Network-led Do the FAFSA campaign designed to encourage students to fill out the application.

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    • House Republicans Launch Broad Antisemitism Investigation

      The chairs of six committees in the House of Representatives, led by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who chairs the Committee on Education & the Workforce, launched a coordinated effort to investigate ten institutions of higher education regarding their responses to antisemitic incidents on their campuses. The broad nature of the investigation marks a new phase in Congress’s ongoing scrutiny of how both public and private, nonprofit colleges and universities have addressed such incidents.

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    • Overtime Rule Faces Legal Challenge

      More than a dozen business and industry groups have filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas asking a federal court to nullify the Biden Administration’s final overtime rule . The lawsuit argues that the Department of Labor’s overtime rule goes beyond its authority under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.

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    • Basic Needs Grants Available for HBCUs and MSIs

      Applications for $9.5 million in new Basic Needs Grants are now available from the Department of Education. In the private, nonprofit sector, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions are considered eligible institutions. The Department will award an estimated 12 grants between $500,000 and $900,000 to establish systemic and sustainable support services to address student basic needs insecurity. The deadline for submitting applications is August 5, 2024.

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  • May 31
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      I hope you were able to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing Memorial Day holiday and find the time to reflect on those who so bravely gave their lives in service to our nation. 

      Here in Washington, things were relatively quiet on the federal higher education policy front, though Members of Congress and the Department of Education were still making news. 

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  • May 24
  • May 17
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleague:

      As the FAFSA crisis continues and the reverberations mount in the homes of students who rely on federal student aid and on campuses around the country, I am pleased to inform you that NAICU has partnered with and is helping fund a campaign to encourage Pell Grant-eligible students to fill out the application.
       

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    • CBO Assumes Institutions Would Close or Leave Student Loan Program If CCRA Enacted.

      The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that some institutions would close or leave the federal student loan program if the College Cost Reduction Act (CCRA) were to be enacted. The CCRA is the House Committee on Education & the Workforce’s proposed rewrite of the Higher Education Act. The prediction came as part of a cost estimate done by CBO, a routine requirement for any legislative proposal considered by the House or Senate.

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    • FAFSA Process Adjustments Continue

      By the end of June, the Department of Education will begin processing paper filings of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and will create a manual process for institution-initiated corrections, the agency announced last week. Institutions will not be able to batch-process institutional corrections until sometime in July.

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  • May 10
  • May 3
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      This has been a difficult time for higher education and our students.  We are all seeing the images and reading the stories from the protests and demonstrations happening on college campuses across the country in communities large and small. 

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    • Final Title IX Regulations Released

      The long-awaited final regulations on Title IX, which were released last month by the Biden Administration, significantly expand the scope of Title IX’s reach on college campuses. Unlike the Trump Administration’s Title IX rules, which addressed sexual harassment only, the new regulations dramatically increase coverage to apply more broadly to all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

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    • House Passes Antisemitism Bill

      As protests over the Israel-Gaza war spread across college campuses around the country, the House of Representatives passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act of 2023 (H.R. 6090) in a bipartisan vote this week. The bill would require the Department of Education to “take into consideration” the working definition of antisemitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) when the agency is determining whether a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act has occurred.

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    • FAFSA Corrections Process Improves

      The Department of Education announced that it has successfully fixed the issues it was having aligning FAFSAs with the appropriate tax records and has finally reprocessed those affected applications.  Coming just days prior to the May 1 deposit deadline, the Department said the fix would allow institutions that had been holding aid packaging until corrections were made to move forward with their offers.

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    • FY2025 Appropriations Underway

      After finalizing fiscal year (FY) 2024 funding six months into the current fiscal year, Congress is jump starting the FY 2025 cycle to get bills written before the fall election season. 
       

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    • TRIO Student Support Services Program Open for Applications

      Institutions of higher education can apply for the Student Support Services Program, a TRIO program, designed to help increase the number of disadvantaged students who successfully complete postsecondary education. An estimated $382 million will be awarded to about 1,160 projects, with awards ranging from $148,181 to $1.65 million.

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  • April 26
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      I am relieved to convey that the Department of Education did not report any new glitches or issues regarding the FAFSA process this week. While that may be of little consolation, it is the first time in a long while that we haven’t had to deal with a new adjustment to the rollout.

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    • Final Rule Increases Overtime Threshold

      This week, the Department of Labor (DOL) formally announced its final rule on overtime pay. The rule will increase the amount under which employees will be considered exempt from overtime pay from the current level of $35,568 to $43,888 on July 1, 2024, and to $58,656 on January 1, 2025. On July 1, 2027, an additional increase will go into effect based on a currently undefined formula, with automatic 3-year increases after that.

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    • Department Seeks Input on New Student Success Award Program

      The Department of Education is requesting feedback on the creation of a Postsecondary Student Success Award Program to recognize institutions of higher education that provide “access to an affordable education, including to underserved populations, support students through to completion of credentials of value, and help students navigate to career pathways that improve their lives through economic opportunity and mobility.”

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  • April 19
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      From our spring Board and Committee meetings in Dallas last week I travelled to San Diego to participate in the 2024 ASU+GSV Summit and spoke on a panel about the path forward for higher education during the course of the next decade. To be successful on that path forward will require a continued emphasis on access, affordability, and accountability while ensuring that our efforts are focused on a student-centered approach. It was a pleasure to represent our sector during this conference.

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    • Biden Administration Continues to Establish New Pathways for Debt Relief

      In the most recent in a long string of debt relief efforts for student loan borrowers, the Biden Administration announced an additional $7.4 billion in student debt relief for 277,000 student borrowers. About half of the amount forgiven is the result of borrowers who have maxed out on payments under the President’s new Saving on Valuable Education (SAVE), income-driven repayment program.

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  • April 12
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      I am writing to you this week from Dallas where NAICU is holding its Spring Board and Committee meetings. It is so rewarding and energizing to be with our members and to hear and participate in so many fulsome conversations about the issues impacting private, nonprofit higher education. These meetings with our leadership committees and Board of Directors help set the direction for our policy and advocacy efforts.

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    • More FAFSA Timelines Announced

      The Department of Education continued its painful process of rolling out the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) this week. The good news is that more than 7 million FAFSAs have now been processed and new applications are being processed in real time with institutional student information records (ISIRs) getting to institutions in a matter of days.

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    • Institutions Receive Additional Regulatory Flexibility on Certification Procedures

      The Department of Education announced that it would consider exercising its discretion when enforcing two provisions in the accountability regulations set to take effect on July 1.

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    • $15 Million in Grants Available for Teacher Preparation Programs

      The Department of Education announced that applications are open for $15 million in grants through the Augustus F. Hawkins Centers of Excellence Program. There will be 27 grant awards, ranging from $450,000 to $650,000, to fund the creation of teacher preparation centers of excellence at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges or Universities, or Minority Serving Institutions, such as Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

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  • April 5
  • March 29
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      Problems with the rollout of the new FAFSA continue to plague the Department of Education and are negatively impacting students and families and putting institutions at a critical crossroads of losing an entire class of low-income students (see story below for more details). 

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    • FAFSA Continues to Lurch Forward

      During the past week, the Department of Education has completed initial processing on 4.4 million Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), up from 1.5 million the previous week. The public can now monitor the Department’s progress through a new FAFSA Status Tracker in its online Knowledge Center. In total, 6.3 million applications have been submitted as of earlier this week.

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  • March 22
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      As we approach the halfway point of the fiscal year, Congress finally made its appropriations decisions for student aid programs. The approved deal provides level funding for the Pell Grant maximum at $7,395, and full funding for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS) programs at last year’s funding levels. This is in stark contrast to the proposed elimination of SEOG and FWS in the House, and the proposed $10 million cut to each program in the Senate last summer (see story below for more details).

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    • Congress Maintains Student Aid Funding in Final Spending Bill

      After months of contentious negotiations about spending levels, and six months after the beginning of the fiscal year, Congress finally completed the FY 2024 funding bills without the drastic cuts proposed earlier in the process. Ultimately, the need for bipartisan votes to pass the spending bills in both chambers lead to compromises on deep cuts.

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  • March 15
  • March 8
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      As we continue to receive news and updates from the Department of Education concerning the FAFSA rollout, our lede story this week provides details on the latest from the agency, which is the expected mid-March release of the first test of institutional student information records (ISIRs) to campuses. Things continue to move slowly.

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    • ISIR Distribution Expected to Begin Soon

      In an announcement earlier this week, the Department of Education indicated that by mid-March it will send a batch of official institutional student information records (ISIRs) to a small group of schools to test the delivery process and provide direct technical assistance as needed. This follows a previous announcement that further delayed ISIRs until early-to-mid March and that these records would be sent to schools in batches.

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    • State Association Leaders Speak on State Authorization

      Four leaders of state associations representing independent colleges and universities made public comments on proposed changes to state authorization regulations at this week’s third and final session of the Program Integrity and Institutional Quality negotiated rulemaking committee.

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  • March 1
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      I have some tentatively good news to report regarding the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act (H.R. 6585). The bill has been pulled from floor consideration this week by the leadership in the House of Representatives. Significant opposition to the bill developed during the past several days, particularly concerning the problematic offset that would hold private colleges and universities subject to the endowment tax liable for federal student loan program costs, such as for congressionally mandated loan forgiveness. 

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    • Congress Punts on Funding … Again

      To avoid a government shutdown, congressional leaders are set to pass another short-term continuing resolution (CR) that extends already delayed funding deadlines further into March. Leaders are hoping this will be the last CR needed to finalize FY 2024 appropriations.

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    • Negotiators Reach Consensus on “Hardship” Definition for Student Loan Relief

      Convening for an unusual fourth time, the Department of Education’s final Student Loan Debt negotiated rulemaking reached consensus on defining the circumstances under which a student loan borrower would qualify for a proposed “hardship” waiver. Negotiators agreed on edits to the Department’s draft language and reached consensus on the final language quickly.

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  • February 23
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      It was announced this week that the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act (H.R. 6585), would be considered on the House floor next week under suspension of the chamber’s rules. The bill creates a short-term Pell program for workforce training with a problematic offset that punishes the private colleges and universities paying the endowment tax.

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    • Department IDs Interim Solution on FAFSA-SSN Technical Issue

      The Department of Education has identified an interim solution to allow students to submit their updated Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) when they have a contributor who does not have a Social Security Number (SSN). This has been a technical issue preventing students from submitting their otherwise completed forms, and a problem that has grown increasingly urgent as deadlines approach for some states’ grant aid.

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

      On Wednesday, we gaveled to a close one of our most successful and inspirational Annual Meeting and Advocacy Day conferences ever. In terms of programming, attendance, which approached 500, sponsors, and participants in Advocacy Day meetings on Capitol Hill, this year’s meeting was a resounding success.

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    • "Concierge Service” Launched to Help with ISIRs Processing

      The Department of Education launched a $50 million FAFSA concierge service to assist schools with “additional personnel, funding, resources, and technology” to prepare to process the forthcoming Individual Student Information Records (ISIRs) as quickly as possible.

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  • February 2
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      In this week’s FAFSA news, we learned colleges and universities will not be receiving Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) from the Department of Education for students who have completed the new form until early- to mid-March (see our lede story below for more details). This delay poses a deepening burden on institutions and could affect student enrollment decisions. 

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    • FAFSA Delays Extended to March

      In a move resulting in further disruption and concern to colleges and universities, as well as students and families, the Department of Education revealed that the latest update to the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process will further delay the delivery of Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs) to schools and states until early- or mid-March.

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    • College Cost Reduction Act Passes Out of Committee on Party-Line Vote

      On Wednesday, the House Education & the Workforce Committee held a marathon markup for Rep. Virginia Foxx’s (R-NC) recently-released College Cost Reduction Act (H.R 6951). After nearly eight hours of partisan fireworks, the bill passed along a party-line vote.

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

      Dear Colleagues,

      I know there are many issues on your plate right now and, if my travels are any indication, I’m sure the FAFSA delay is among the most pressing. However, last week, a new concern arose in the form of a proposed major overhaul of the Higher Education Act. Introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the bill is intended to address what she calls “the inflated cost of obtaining a college degree.”

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    • House Republicans Propose Major Overhaul of the Higher Education Act

      Looking to address “the inflated cost of obtaining a college degree,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, introduced the College Cost Reduction Act, a bill that would reauthorize a substantial portion of the Higher Education Act. As a result, the bill features a number of new accountability measures that would make radical changes to the Title IV student loan programs.

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    • Funding and FAFSA Delays Collide Causing Concerns

      Even though congressional leadership agreed to top line spending amounts to move the FY 2024 process forward, they still need more time to finalize the details. As a result, Congress has approved and sent to President Biden’s desk a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that extends the first set of spending bills until March 1, and the second set, which includes student aid funding, until March 8.

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  • January 12
  • December 22
    • How Colleges Are Navigating the FAFSA Delay

      The delay in the launch of the new 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is causing considerable tumult and frustration on campuses and creating confusion for many students and families.
       

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    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleague:

      Last week, NAICU wrapped up its three-part “Regulatory Gauntlet” series of webinars focused on the thousands of pages of regulatory guidance issued by the Biden Administration during the past few months.  These regulations will affect every corner of your campus.
      Broadly, the three webinars covered:

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    • A Flurry of Endowment Tax Expansion Efforts Erupt in Congress

      The last several weeks in Washington have seen several legislative efforts aimed at expanding the scope of the private college endowment tax.  These moves come in response to a growing assault on higher education and in the wake of recent congressional hearings on antisemitic activity on college campuses.
       

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  • December 15
  • December 8
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      It has been another challenging week in the nation’s capital as higher education has come under the microscope publicly and legislatively in a way that is both targeted and aggressive.

      The House Education and Workforce Committee is looking to fast track legislation – the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act – as early as next week. The bill would create a new short-term Pell program that would be paid for by taking away federal loans from students at institutions that are subject to the endowment tax. Among other issues, the legislation would pull the rug out from middle- and lower-income students, who would end up as collateral damage in a move intended to target those institutions with large endowments.

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    • House Introduces Workforce Pell Bill

      This week, the House introduced, the Bipartisan Workforce Pell Act (H.R. 6585), which would allow students to use their Pell Grant eligibility for short-term training programs between eight and fifteen weeks. The bill would pay for the program by removing access to federal Direct Loans from schools that are subject to the endowment tax.

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    • DETERRENT Act Passes House

      The confluence of increased bipartisan attention on foreign influence on college campuses, a lack of appropriations bills to debate, and the delay in negotiations on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), gave the House free floor time to bring up the DETERRENT Act for consideration as a standalone bill this week. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 246-170, despite the higher education community’s opposition.

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    • College Presidents Testify on Antisemitism

      The presidents of Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were summoned to Capitol Hill this week to testify before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce about antisemitism on college campuses. The nearly five-hour hearing revealed bipartisan concern about the increasing number of antisemitic incidents on college campuses in the wake of Hamas’s invasion of Israel.

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  • December 1
  • November 17
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      After much anticipation, the Department of Education finally announced that the new FAFSA form will be available for students “by December 31, 2023,” though the agency stopped short of announcing an actual final release date. Even though students will be able to fill out the form in the new year, institutions will not get student information until at least the end of January 2024 due to expected processing delays. These delays are also going to impact state grant aid applications in many states.

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    • FAFSA to be Available by December 31

      The Department of Education announced that the new 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form will be available “by December 31, 2023.” While higher education has been waiting for this date to be announced, and no specific date has actually been provided yet, perhaps the most important revelation from the Department is that once students are able to complete the new FAFSA form in December, there will be a four-to-six-week delay in processing the final Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR).

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    • Congress Avoids Shutdown with “Laddered” CR

      With government funding set to expire at midnight on November 17, Congress passed what is being called a “laddered” continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a shutdown and keep the government running into next year.

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    • House Punts Education Spending Bill Vote

      After several hours debating the FY 2024 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, which also contained hundreds of amendments, the House of Representatives punted a final vote on the bill until after the Thanksgiving break. The underlying bill provides $64 billion less than FY 2023 across all agencies, and $22 billion less for the Department of Education. 

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    • Congress Ramps Up Scrutiny of Antisemitism on Campus

      In the wake of widely reported allegations of antisemitism on college campuses, lawmakers on Capitol Hill have dramatically increased their scrutiny – and criticism – of how campus leaders are responding.

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    • Raise the Bar Summit Focuses on Successful Transfer Partnerships

      During the third installment of its Raise the Bar series last week, the Department of Education released new data and complementary research highlighting the most successful transfer partnerships, based on student outcomes, between community colleges and four-year institutions.

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  • November 10
  • November 3
  • October 27
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      This week’s major political news is that Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) has been elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives after 22 days of the chamber not having a leader. With Johnson now seated, the focus of legislative business has quickly turned to funding the federal government before the end of the current continuing resolution on November 17.

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    • Second Set of Accountability Regulations Released

      Less than a month after issuing final regulations on financial value transparency and gainful employment, the Department of Education pre-published supplemental rules to address the agency’s concerns over institutional accountability and consumer protection. The 700-page regulatory package, which will go into effect on July 1, 2024, addresses numerous issues of critical importance to institutions of higher education.

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    • Resources Created to Help Students Adjust to the New FAFSA

      The Department of Education developed a series of webinars and short videos to help students and parents prepare for the December release of the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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  • October 20
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      This week, the NAICU leadership – our board of directors and leadership committees, the National Association of Independent College and University State Executives, our Secretariat, and Legal Services Review Panel – all met in Washington for our annual Fall Leadership Conference. During these meetings, we are updated on the key federal higher education policy and regulatory issues and work to set a course for addressing the most pressing concerns and identifying advocacy strategies for ensuring our voices are included in these key policy debates.

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    • $75 Million Awarded to Help Underserved Students

      The Department of Education awarded $75 million across three grant programs to benefit underserved students at colleges and universities. The three programs include: 1) the Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) Part A grant program; 2) the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) state grant initiative; and 3) the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP).

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  • October 13
  • October 6
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      Even by Washington standards, this week has been unpredictable and chaotic. No matter which political prognosticator you most favor, no one knows what the long-term ramifications will be of the unprecedented removal of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker. 

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    • Final Rules on Financial Value and Gainful Employment Released

      The Department of Education issued final rules on a major new initiative to inform prospective students about the financial value of college programs. Under the new rules, institutions of higher education will have to steer all prospective students toward a new federal website that will have data about the earnings of past graduates in their selected majors and whether the debt payments for those students were within a new formula that identifies a manageable debt level.

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    • Congress Avoids Government Shutdown

      At the eleventh-hour on September 30, the House and Senate finally agreed to drop partisan amendments to a continuing resolution (CR) and fund the government until November 17. To avoid a government shutdown, Congress agreed to a CR that maintains current funding for all agencies at FY 2023 levels and provides $16 billion for emergency relief for recent natural disasters. The legislation does not include funding for Ukraine.

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    • House Hearing Reveals Political Divide on Affirmative Action

      The House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development examined how the Supreme Court’s decision on race-conscious admissions is shaping policies at colleges and universities in a hearing that revealed the continued political divide over affirmative action. 

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  • September 29
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      It’s been another busy week in Washington. The national headlines are, rightfully, focused on the September 30 deadline for the FY 2024 spending bills and the potential government shutdown (see our story below for the current status of negotiations and the potential impact a shutdown could have on higher education). 

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    • Possible Government Shutdown Looming

      While negotiations and discussions continue, as of Thursday afternoon, the federal government is still on the verge of shutting down as Congress cannot agree to FY 2024 spending bills or a stopgap funding measure to temporarily keep agencies open. With the right flank holding the Republican party hostage in the House, and the Senate holding a thin Democratic majority in the Senate, coming to an agreement on how to keep the government open is proving to be an impossible task. 

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  • September 22
  • September 15
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      Both chambers of Congress were back in session this week, and everyone is back to school. This confluence of events is traditionally marked in Washington by the annual gathering of the entire education community (preschool through postsecondary education) at the annual Committee for Education Funding gala, which NAICU regularly sponsors. It was a lively event, honoring Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and John Tester (D-MT) and Representatives Alma Adams (D-NC) and Jared Huffman (D-CA). NAICU was delighted to host several key congressional staff members at our table.

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    • NAICU Ramps Up Student Aid Advocacy

      This summer, the House proposed to eliminate funding for Federal Work-Study (FWS) and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) while protecting the Pell Grant maximum and the Senate proposed cutting FWS and SEOG each by $10 million while providing a $250 increase to the Pell Grant maximum.  

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  • September 8
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleague,

      I hope you and your campus community celebrated a happy and safe Labor Day weekend. While the holiday marks the unofficial end of summer, it’s 100 degrees in Washington, DC and elsewhere. The Senate was back in session this week, but the House won’t return until next week. That said, there was still plenty of activity in the nation’s capital to mark the weekly return of Washington Update.

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    • White House Releases Long-Awaited Proposed Rule on Overtime Pay

      The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division announced its proposal to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including the regulations governing the “white collar” exemption for executive, administrative, and professional employees.  While there are several important implications for higher education institutions, the key aspect of the proposal is an increase to the overtime pay threshold from the current amount of $35,568 to $55,068.  

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    • VA Risk-Based Surveys on the Rise

      More than 600 degree-granting institutions (public, private, nonprofit, and for-profit) have been targeted for risk-based surveys from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as part of the  roughly 1,300 postsecondary institutions that have been reviewed over the last fiscal year. Of particular concern is that the proliferation of surveys seems to be triggered by the old definition used to calculate the 85/15 ratio, which is inapplicable since Congress passed a law to set a 35% waiver last year.  The House Committee on Veterans Affairs is expected to hold a hearing later in September to delve into the agency’s rationale for triggering so many surveys. 

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    • Guidance on Race and School Programming Released

      The Department of Education released new guidance reminding schools, including colleges and universities, of their legal obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act regarding race, color, and national origin discrimination. The guidance, which specifically addresses school programing involving race, appears to be designed to address legal questions that have emerged amidst political battles over diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, particularly in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling.  

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    • Administration Finds that Ashford University Defrauded Students

      The Department of Education has forgiven $72 million in student loans through borrower defense to repayment (BDR) discharges for over 2,300 students who attended Ashford University, now the University of Arizona Global Campus.  Defrauded students will be notified later this month that their BDR application has been approved and their student loan payments will be refunded without further action from them.

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  • August 18
  • August 4
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      While Congress has left Washington for its summer recess, there are still several key issues we’re tracking as your senators and representatives head back home to their states and districts. Key among them are the cuts to the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS).

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    • Scope of Senate Appropriations Bill Becomes Clear

      As details of last week’s Senate appropriations bills are made public, the concerns lawmakers have regarding higher education are more evident.  The top news for colleges and universities is that the Senate bill proposes $10 million funding cuts to both the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) and Federal Work-Study (FWS) programs.  While the actual proposed funding cut is minimal the signal it sends to negotiators is damaging, especially when juxtaposed against the House proposal to eliminate both programs.  

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    • NAICU Joins College Pricing Transparency Initiative

      College affordability has never been more important — and a key component of affordability is helping students understand how much they’re going to pay up-front.  However, the Government Accounting Office recently published a critical analysis of student aid offers and legislation has been introduced in Congress to establish a single federal form to govern all student federal financial aid offers. 

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    • House Looks at Cost and Value in Higher Education

      The House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing last week to look into the cost and value of higher education, ostensibly focused on how a market-based approach to accountability may lower tuition prices, eliminate low-value degree programs, and reduce student debt.

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    • House Focuses on Employee Retention Tax Credit Backlog

      Due to widespread delays, confusion over eligibility, and fraudulent claims that have plagued the Employee Retention tax Credit (ERC) since it was enacted last year, the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing on employers’ experiences with the program. 

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  • July 28
  • July 21
  • July 14
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      This morning, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-Health and Human Services-Education is marking up its FY 2024 funding bill, which is expected to keep the Pell Grant maximum level at $7,395, but eliminate funding for Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Federal-Work Study. 

      If enacted, these cuts would be devastating to low-income students who rely on the campus-based partnership with the federal government for additional grant aid and a job during the school year to help pay for college.

      read full article
    • Legacy Admissions Under Attack

      Legacy admissions are facing renewed attacks – including a new legal complaint – in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. 

      read full article
  • July 7
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      The implications from the landmark Supreme Court decisions issued late last week on race-conscious admissions and the Biden Administration’s student loan forgiveness plan continue to dominate the policy conversations in higher education this week.
       
      While I discussed the decision on race-conscious admissions in last week’s Washington Update, the decision on student loans was announced just hours after our message arrived in your inboxes.  As you know, the court ruled that the Biden Administration’s plan to use provisions of the HEROES Act to forgive student loan debt overstepped the Education Secretary’s authority.

      read full article
    • SCOTUS Halts Biden Loan Forgiveness Plan, President Announces Plan B

      In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled on June 30 that the President did not have the authority under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003 to provide the widespread loan forgiveness he proposed last August. The Justices ruled that the proposal was of too large a scale to meet the provisions of law.
       

      read full article
    • Supreme Court Guts College Affirmative Action Programs

      In a 6-3 decision on June 29, the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, holding that race-conscious admissions programs at both Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
       

      read full article
  • June 30
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      ​Like many of you, we have been watching the Supreme Court closely anticipating its decisions on race-conscious admissions and President Biden’s student debt forgiveness proposal. 

      Yesterday, in a 6-3 decision divided along ideological lines, the court ended affirmative action in college admissions, striking down the programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. Although the ruling does not impose an outright ban on race-conscious admissions at colleges and universities, the constitutional test it establishes, particularly its focus on a lack of a meaningful end point, will effectively end such programs, while leaving the door open for institutions of higher education to consider an applicant’s lived experiences, including those referencing race.

      read full article
    • Congress Focuses on Skills over Degrees

      At a hearing before the House Committee on Education and Labor, lawmakers continued to question the importance of a college degree, focusing instead on urging employers to embrace skills-based hiring.

      read full article
    • House Republicans Introduce Proposal to Simplify Student Loan Repayments

      Republicans in the House introduced the Federal Assistance to Initiate Repayment (FAIR) Act that would restructure student loan repayment options for borrowers and put new requirements on steps the Department of Education must take prior to this fall’s resumption of student loan repayments, such as a series of borrower notifications.  

      read full article
  • June 23
  • June 16
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      This week, the Congressional Independent Colleges Caucus (CICC) hosted the first in-person NAICU panel discussion between our member presidents and Capitol Hill staff since the beginning of the pandemic. The session, “What COVID Taught Us: Lessons from College Presidents,” attracted over 40 congressional staff, many of whom work for members of the House Committee Education and the Workforce.

      read full article
    • House Appropriators Significantly Cut Spending

      House Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) released her plans for the FY 2024 spending bills, which include a $60 billion cut to the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee.  This nearly 30% reduction, which takes spending back to FY 2022 levels, would represent the deepest cut to any subcommittee budget.

      read full article
    • Senate Republicans Introduce College Cost Package

      A package of bills aimed at tackling college costs and providing an alternative to President Biden’s student loan forgiveness proposals were introduced this week by a group of Senate Republicans, led by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The package is titled “Lowering Education Debt and Cost.”
       

      read full article
    • IRS Ends Tax Break for Certain College Sports Booster Groups

      In a memo from the Internal Revenue Service’s Office of Chief Counsel, the agency announced that it will no longer allow Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) collectives to be organized as charities.  While these collectives can continue to be organized for their intended purpose, donations to them will now be subject to taxation.  

      read full article
  • June 9
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      NAICU’s government relations team continues to review and analyze the hundreds of pages of new regulatory proposals from the Department of Education to assess its potential impact on higher education. To provide added input and additional clarification, we hosted a webinar earlier this week with Deputy Under Secretary Ben Miller and Deputy Under Secretary and Chief Economist Jordan Matsudaira to help us gain a better understanding of the Department’s expectations.

      read full article
  • June 2
  • May 25
  • May 19
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      Well, today is the day we have been expecting since the Department of Education’s negotiated rulemaking sessions began in the fall of 2021. Today, the Department officially released its massive new regulatory package in the Federal Register and is only providing a 30-day comment period. 

      read full article
    • Department Releases Massive New Regulatory Package

      The Department of Education released a massive set of proposed rules that will impact every program at every institution of higher education through consumer disclosures or by measuring program outcomes.  The proposed regulations address such topics as Gainful Employment (GE), consumer information on the financial value of programs, career services at institutions, financial aid information, teach out plans for colleges at risk of closure, financial responsibility standards, and ability to benefit among other subjects.  

      read full article
    • Cardona Faces Divisive Education Committee

      Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona made another appearance on Capitol Hill this week, testifying before the House Education and the Workforce Committee in support of the president’s FY 2024 budget request, and to answer oversight questions.

      read full article
    • Third-Party Servicer Guidance Formally Withdrawn

      In an announcement made last month in a post on the Department of Education’s Homeroom blog, Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal wrote that the agency was rescinding its guidance on third-party servicers.  Earlier this week, the Department made this move official by formally withdrawing its third-party servicer guidance through a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL).  

      read full article
  • May 12
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      Yesterday marked the official end to the Covid 19 pandemic national emergency. By NAICU’s unofficial count, this declaration came in the 165th week of the pandemic. It has been so satisfying to see how you have survived and persevered during Covid and continued your missions to serve your students and communities. While the emergency may be declared over, we know the impact will continue to be felt for some time. It has been your hard work, and that of your campus community, that has allowed us to persist through this unprecedented crisis.

      read full article
    • House Education Committee Votes to Repeal Student Loan Forgiveness

      The House Education and the Workforce Committee introduced legislation that would repeal the Biden Administration’s action to cancel up to $20,000 in individual student loan debt.  The measure would also immediately reinstate the repayment of student loans by borrowers, which has been paused since the onset of the pandemic, and which is currently set to restart September 1. The bill was approved on a party-line vote but is unlikely to pass the Democratically-controlled Senate or be signed by the president.

      read full article
    • House and Senate Bills Seek Permanent SNAP Expansion

      With the public health emergency ending this week, and the temporary expansion for college student SNAP eligibility ending in June, congressional champions introduced legislation to permanently address low-income student hunger with the Enhance Access to SNAP or “EATS” Act.  The bill simplifies eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for low-income college students by eliminating the college student exemptions. 

      read full article
    • More Improvements Made to Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

      The Department of Education announced improvements to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Help Tool, which borrowers use to apply for the program. The improved tool is part of the Department’s extensive efforts to fix a public service loan forgiveness program that was so broken that most borrowers who performed their required ten years of service had their loan forgiveness applications denied. The improved tool should make it easier for borrowers to apply and qualify for loan forgiveness for public service.  

      read full article
    • Last Chance to Comment on Reporting of Foreign Gifts

      The Department of Education issued the final Information Collection Request (ICR) regarding the reporting of foreign gifts to institutions of higher education.  The deadline to submit comments on this issue, which covers Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, is June 5.  

      read full article
  • May 5
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      According to the Washington Post, President Biden and leaders in Congress are scheduled to be in Washington at the same time for just six days between now and June 1, the date when the Treasury says the United States could default on its debt. The president has invited the leaders of both the House and Senate to the White House next week to discuss the debt ceiling. 

      read full article
    • Spending Bills Scheduled for Mark Ups

      House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) notified the subcommittee chairs of the upcoming schedule for marking up the twelve FY 2024 spending bills later this spring. 

      read full article
    • New Bill Aims to Protect Family Famers and Small Business Owners Paying for College

      Under the new need analysis system, which is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2024, family farmers and small business owners will have to pay more to send their children to college because the assets in their farms and small businesses will now be considered available to help pay for college.

      read full article
    • HEERF Spending Deadline is June 30

      Colleges and universities that received Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) are required to have all remaining funds spent by June 30, 2023.  While a blanket extension for spending all remaining HEERF funds was provided by the Biden Administration last year, any unliquidated HEERF funds that have not been spent by June 30 will have to be returned to the Treasury by the institution.

      read full article
    • NAICU Renews Push for Expedited ERC Returns

      In a letter sent to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, NAICU once again urged the agency to help expedite backlogged Employee Retention tax Credit (ERC) returns filed by many private, nonprofit colleges and universities.  After hearing from institutions reporting delays of up to a year or more, NAICU contacted the IRS to push for the consideration of these returns.

      read full article
  • April 28
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues,

      I am writing to you this week from Atlanta where NAICU is holding its Spring Board and Committee meetings. As always, it is so rewarding and energizing to be with our members and to hear and participate in so many fulsome conversations about the issues impacting private, nonprofit higher education.

      read full article
    • College Scorecard Updated

      Seeking additional data transparency, the Department of Education announced updates to the College Scorecard, including adding new data on earnings and staff demographics, and graduate student information.  The scorecard includes data such as completion rates, student loan debt totals, income, and other programmatic information.

      read full article
    • Waivers Available for Confucius Institutes

      The National Defense Authorization Act of 2021 (NDAA) prohibits institutions of higher education with Confucius Institutes (CI) from receiving Department of Defense (DOD) funding unless they apply for a waiver.  This NDAA prohibition goes into effect on October 1, 2023, and institutions that are interested in applying for a waiver must do so by June 1, 2023. 

      read full article
    • Higher Education Modeling and Simulation Program Grants Available

      The Department of Education is accepting applications for $7.9 million in grant funding for the Modeling and Simulation Program, which is designed to “promote the study of modeling and simulation at institutions of higher education through collaboration with new and existing programs, and specifically to promote the use of technology through the creation of accurate models that can simulate processes or recreate real life.”  

      read full article
  • April 21
  • April 14
  • April 6
  • March 31
  • March 24
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues;

      The slew of regulatory announcements impacting higher education continued this week in Washington. Front and center was the official announcement by the Department of Education that the FAFSA for the 2024-25 academic year would not be available until December (an exact date in December has not been determined). The roughly two-month delay is caused by extensive changes Congress made to the entire student aid application and delivery system, including a complete overhaul of the need analysis system that has been in place for 30 years.

      read full article
    • Next Year’s FAFSA Not Available Until December 2023

      The Department of Education announced that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the 2024-25 academic year will not be available until this December, and that it has created a comprehensive roadmap for implementation of the new system between now and the end of the year.  In recent years, the FAFSA has been made available by October 1, giving institutions the time necessary to plan for and assist in recruiting low-income students.  

      read full article
    • Another Negotiated Rulemaking on the Horizon

      Beating its own target date of an April notification, the Department of Education announced plans to launch another negotiated rulemaking process that will subject more regulations of great importance to higher education to potential rewrites.  Among the issues of central importance to private, nonprofit institutions are accreditation, institutional eligibility, state authorization, third-party servicers, distance education and TRIO programs.  The regulatory notice also welcomed other topics the public felt should be considered.

      read full article
    • Proposed House Cuts Would Slash Pell Funding and Eliminate 80,000 Students from Eligibility

      When Republicans took control of the House in January, one of the deals Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made to garner votes from rank-and-file members was to cut federal spending in the 2024 fiscal year to FY 2022 levels. In response to this agreement, which would essentially result in a 22% funding cut, Ranking Member of the Committee on Appropriations Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) asked all agency heads to determine what the impact would be on the programs their agency supports if spending reverted to FY 2022 levels.  

      read full article
    • $36 Million in Strengthening Institutions Program Grants Available

      The Department of Education announced the availability of more than $36 million in awards via a new round of Strengthening Institutions Program grants.  There will be about 80 awards given, with grants ranging from $400,000 to $550,000. 

      read full article
  • March 17
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      Thank you to those who have reached out to NAICU and who participated in our webinar last week regarding the Department of Education’s recent guidance that could hold college leaders and board members personally liable for financial losses related to student aid programs.  We know there is growing concern on campuses about the guidance since it does not exclude private, nonprofit college and university leaders. 
       

      read full article
    • Cost for President’s IDR Plan Higher than Expected

      The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the new income-driven repayment (IDR) plan proposed by the Biden Administration would increase the costs of the student loan program by $230 billion. This is an increase from the Administration’s estimate of $138 billion. 

      read full article
    • Department to Use Secret Shoppers to Determine Institutional Compliance

      In part due to a recent report by the General Accountability Office indicating that the Department of Education should improve enforcement procedures regarding substantial misrepresentation by institutions, the agency announced that it will use secret shoppers to monitor the compliance of colleges and universities.  Specifically, these secret shoppers will be tasked with determining whether institutions are complying with the laws and regulations governing participation in the federal student aid programs.

      read full article
  • March 10
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      One of the highlights of President Biden’s FY 2024 budget request, released yesterday, is the proposed $820 increase to the maximum Pell Grant award. This significant increase, $500 of which would come from discretionary funding and $320 from mandatory funding, reinforces the president’s commitment to doubling the maximum award by 2029.

      read full article
    • Biden Budget Requests $820 Pell Increase

      President Biden’s FY 2024 budget requests a 14% increase in appropriated funding for the Department of Education, to $90 billion, with familiar proposals in higher education targeted at college affordability. In keeping with the last two budgets, this year’s request for funding the federal student aid programs continues to be generous, using a combination of discretionary and mandatory funding. 

      read full article
  • March 3
  • February 24
  • February 17
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      In Washington this week, the House was not in session and the Senate finalized its committee organizational work (see story below).  Now that both chambers have named their committee leadership, it turns out some history was made. For the first time, the leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees are all women: Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and Reps. Kay Granger(R-TX), who highlighted this during our Advocacy Day reception last week, and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).  Coupled with Shalanda Young, who heads up the Office of Management and Budget, women control all the purse strings in Washington.

      read full article
    • Education Department to Scrutinize Online Program Managers

      The Department of Education announced it will hold a series of virtual listening sessions seeking public comment on incentive compensation for recruitment services, including bundled services provided by online program management (OPM) companies. Separately, the Department also released new guidance to clarify that OPMs are third-party servicers and that institutions that have agreements with OPMs are therefore subject to reporting requirements that govern such servicers.

      read full article
    • Higher Education Priorities Taking Shape in New Congress

      The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held an executive session last week that revealed several hints about the committee’s higher education priorities in the coming Congress.
       
      Although Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took the gavel as chair for the first time, he primarily focused on health care, K-12 education, and labor issues.

      read full article
    • Senate Committees Organized for 118th Congress

      The Senate finalized committee assignments and leaders recently, taking a bit longer than the House due to retirements and movement of senior members between committees.  Because there are only 100 senators, it is common for them to sit on multiple committees, unlike in the House. There are many senators on both sides of the aisle who sit on two or more of the committees with jurisdiction over issues of interest to higher education.

      read full article
  • February 10
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      Wow, what a week!  On Wednesday, we brought to a close one our most successful Annual Meeting & Advocacy Day conferences.  In terms of programming, registrations, attendance, sponsorships and participation in Advocacy Day meetings on Capitol Hill, this year’s meeting was a resounding success.
       

      read full article
    • Biden Again Highlights Pell in State of the Union

      While President Biden’s State of the Union address focused primarily on the economy, jobs and health care, for the second consecutive year he devoted time in his speech to call for increasing the Pell Grant award. The president attempted to appeal to the divided Congress for a bipartisan working relationship to accomplish joint goals for the American people. His mantra of “Let’s finish the job,” applied across all issue areas, including higher education.

      read full article
    • First Education Committee Hearing Shows Stark Differences in Priorities Between Parties

      Seeking to address what it labeled as an education crisis, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held its first hearing of the 118th Congress and gave light to the planned committee priorities for the year ahead.
       
       

      read full article
    • NAICU Highlights Concerns with Accountability Proposal

      In January, the Department of Education published a request for information seeking public comments regarding how best to identify “low-financial-value” postsecondary programs.  In response, NAICU and 34 member associations of independent colleges, submitted comments to the Department regarding the Biden Administration’s plan to hold colleges and universities accountable for providing “financial value” to students.

      read full article
  • February 2
  • January 27
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      NAICU’s 2023 Annual Meeting & Advocacy is right around the corner.  It’s not too late to register and join over 400 of your colleagues in Washington to learn about and discuss the issues and opportunities ahead for private, nonprofit higher education. 
       

      read full article
    • Education Secretary Cardona Wants to “Raise the Bar”

      In a speech billed as his “vision for the direction the Department of Education for 2023,” Secretary Miguel Cardona gave signals as to how the Biden Administration might assess and attempt to quantify the value of higher education.  While the speech, delivered to national PTA members in Washington, DC, was focused primarily on K-12 education, Cardona called on policymakers to “raise the bar in education and lead the world” by summoning “a collective will to fight complacency and status quo in education with the same passion we used to fight COVID.”  
       

      read full article
    • NAICU Pushes IRS to Expedite Backlogged Employee-Retention Tax Credit Returns

      In a letter sent to Acting Commissioner of the IRS Douglas O’Donnell, NAICU urged the agency to expedite consideration of backlogged tax returns filed by many NAICU-member institutions that claimed the employee-retention tax credit (ERC).  Twenty-seven member associations joined NAICU in signing the letter and supporting this effort.

      read full article
  • January 20
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      In just over two weeks, we will be kicking off our 2023 Annual Meeting & Advocacy Day here in Washington, DC.  I’m pleased to report that we have over 400 (and counting) attendees registered for the meeting.
      Our program includes panels, speakers, and trainings to help college and university leaders talk with their elected officials and campus communities about the value, worth, and benefits that come with a college degree.  These will be important discussions as the Biden Administration has intensified its focus on college accountability.
       

      read full article
    • Debt Limit Sparks Budget Battles

      Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told congressional leaders that the U.S. government would hit its borrowing limit on January 19, already setting off the budget battles that will be waged throughout this year. This debt ceiling is the equivalent of the government’s credit card limit and is procedurally separate from the annual budget and appropriations process.
       

      read full article
    • House Republicans Press Education Department on Free Speech

      In a clear sign that the political battle over free expression will continue in the new Congress, two House Republican committee chairs sent a letter to the Department of Education criticizing the agency’s actions on campus free speech and renewing a previous request for information regarding the Department’s efforts in this area. 

      read full article
    • GAO Finds More Oversight Needed for Colleges and Universities

      The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report shining a light on the Department of Education’s oversight of and enforcement procedures for colleges and universities that provide inaccurate or misleading information about its programs, costs, or graduate employment.  The report stated that “students who enroll in colleges based on false or inaccurate information,” referred to as substantial misrepresentation, “may find themselves unable to secure a job or pay back their educational loans, which can shift the financial burden to taxpayers.”
       

      read full article
  • January 13
  • January 6
  • December 16
  • December 9
    • Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

      Dear Colleagues:

      With the Georgia senate race decided on Tuesday night, the basic composition of the House (with one congressional district still not called) and Senate are complete. In the weeks ahead, we will be paying very close attention to who gets named to lead the committees in both chambers. These leadership decisions will shape the priorities and direction that key committees may take on issues relevant to private, nonprofit higher education.

      read full article
    • Bill Introduced to Revamp Financial Aid Award Letters

      Seeking to address the growing controversy over financial aid award letters, Representative Lisa McClain (R-MI) and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the College Cost Transparency and Student Protection Act. The bill is a response to a recent GAO report recommending that Congress consider legislation requiring colleges to provide students financial aid offers that follow best practices for providing clear and standard information. 

      read full article
    • Democrats Seek Crackdown on Online Program Managers

      Democrats in both the House and the Senate are renewing calls for increased scrutiny of – and potentially a ban on – online program management (OPM) companies. The latest push for closer regulation of OPMs came in a letter that several lawmakers sent to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona this week. 

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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%.

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
  • 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.
       

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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. 
       

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.
       

      read full article
    • 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.
       

      read full article
    • 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.
       

      read full article
    • 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.  

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
  • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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). 

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 
       

      read full article
    • 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.  
       

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.
       

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.  

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.”

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
  • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
  • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.
       

      read full article
  • 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

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.  

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • $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. 

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
  • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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.
       

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
  • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
    • 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.

      read full article
    • 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. 

      read full article
  • January 7