NAICU Washington Update

NAICU Launches Two Task Forces

February 11, 2011

NAICU has recently launched two separate task forces, under board of directors approval, to address key issues facing member colleges and a key partner organization.

The first task force will review and develop recommendations on the federal financial responsibility test all colleges must undergo annually to remain eligible for federal student aid participation.  The second will explore enhanced coordination between NAICU staff and the National Association of Independent College and University State Executives (NAICUSE) in addressing the growing number of issues that impact both organizations.  Both began formal meetings in January, and will continue their work throughout the year.

Financial Responsibility Task Force

The NAICU Financial Responsibility Task Force was established to review and make recommendations for improving the current Department of Education regulations on financial responsibility for private, nonprofit colleges.  The effort grows out of the Department's release of information last summer that unexpectedly listed a number of colleges that had failed to meet the financial responsibility standard. (See earlier Washington Update story).  The NAICU task force intends to identify preliminary action steps by the summer.

Receiving a "passing" score is critical because being financial responsible is a requirement for participation in HEA Title IV student aid programs. Some colleges received "failing" scores - although they were not in imminent danger of closure - because of the recent economic downturn and the resulting reduction in their endowment values, which affects key portions of the formula.

The task force will review the financial responsibility score formula, and will consider related accounting and regional consistency issues to determine what action might be effective in addressing the problems. The task force membership is composed of higher education finance and accounting experts, and is chaired by Kent Chabotar, president of Guilford College. NAICU welcomes the active input of any member by contacting Maureen Budetti, director of student aid policy, at

NAICU/NAICUSE Advocacy Task Force

The joint NAICU/NAICUSE Advocacy Task Force was established to examine the growing convergence of federal-state education policy issues, and their implications for an updated federal-state advocacy strategy. The task force, by design, would be mindful that each state is different, and that NAICU's primary focus must remain on federal higher education policy.

The task force met formally twice in January, and has set up three subcommittees - one to focus on student aid funding; another to look at how best to strengthen the relationship between private colleges and the Department of Education regarding regulatory issues; and a third to examine state-federal issue convergence, including education reform issues.

In their initial meetings, the subcommittees discussed the biggest policy challenges facing each of the three, considered what research might be needed to support their positions, scanned available resources, and explored key messages. Each subcommittee then developed specific action items to undertake.

The Advocacy Task Force is staffed by Bo Newsome, director of outreach and state relations at NAICU,

Those involved feel that both NAICU task forces are off to a good start, and that they illustrate the strong commitment so many NAICU members are willing to make on behalf of the entire independent college sector.