NAICU Washington Update

House Cleans its Plate Prior to Recess

July 25, 2014

Moving towards a month-long summer recess (August 4-September 5), the House of Representatives approved several bills addressing higher education tax policy and Higher Education Act (HEA) programs. Although few of these measures are expected to see action in the Senate, they offer a sense of how future tax and HEA proposals may take shape.


IRA Charitable Rollover

Legislation that would permanently extend the IRA charitable rollover benefit was one of five charitable giving bills rolled into the America Gives More Act of 2014 (H.R. 4719), and approved by the House on July 17. The rollover provision, which expired at the end of 2013, allows individual taxpayers over the age of 70½ to donate up to $100,000 from their IRAs and Roth IRAs to colleges, universities, and other nonprofits without having to treat the withdrawals as taxable income. The five proposals incorporated into H.R. 4719 were approved as separate bills by the House Ways and Means Committee on May 29.

The Senate passed a temporary extension of the IRA rollover in April. The Senate bill would retroactively extend the benefit for two years, covering all of 2014 and expiring on December 31, 2015. House and Senate tax committee members are expected to resolve the differences between the two bills over the next few months. The final agreement is expected to look more like the Senate version, given its much lower price tag of a two-year versus a permanent extension of the benefit.

Black-Davis Bill

On July 24, the House approved the Student and Family Tax Simplification Act (H.R. 3393), also known as the “Black-Davis” bill after its authors, Reps. Diane Black (R-TN) and Danny Davis (D-IL). That measure would permanently extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), and would also eliminate and consolidate other various tuition tax benefits.

As previously reported, NAICU has long advocated for the AOTC to be made permanent. We were also pleased that the House Ways and Means Committee restored the income eligibility cuts from the original Black-Davis bill. However, unfortunately, the final version of H.R. 3393 also eliminates graduate and lifetime learning benefits by limiting the AOTC to four years.

The Senate is not currently scheduled to consider permanent AOTC legislation, as the benefit does not expire until December 31, 2017. If it does take up the issue, it will likely consider the version (S. 835) introduced by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), which would further increase eligibility for the benefit and extend it beyond the first four years of college.

Higher Education Act 

In addition to the tax measures, the House approved three bipartisan higher education bills that had been reported out of committee earlier this month. NAICU joined others in the higher education community in expressing general support for the bills, which cover competency-based education, transparency, and financial aid counseling, and indicating interest in their further refinement as the process continues.

Competency-Based Education

On July 23, the House unanimously approved the Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act (H.R. 3136), authored by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ). The bill would authorize competency-based education demonstration projects and would allow the Secretary of Education to waive current statutory and regulatory requirements that impede their creation. The goal of the legislation is to cut the cost of attending college by promoting innovation. In related news, the Department of Education announced it will soon provide information on applying for waivers under the experimental sites authority to test competency-based programs.


By voice vote the same day, the House also passed the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4983), authored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC). The measure would require the Secretary of Education to create a consumer-tested College Dashboard that would provide a limited amount of the essential information students need for selecting colleges. The Secretary would also be required to provide a link to the College Dashboard page of each institution listed on a student’s FAFSA.

Financial Aid Counseling

On July 24, the House passed the “Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act” (H.R. 4984), authored by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY). The bill would require annual counseling for student loan borrowers and, for the first time, for Pell Grant recipients and parent PLUS borrowers. The bill was amended slightly during House consideration to include additional counseling elements and to provide for a longitudinal study of the effects of the counseling.


For more information related to tax issues, contact Karin Johns at

For more information related to HEA, contact Maureen Budetti ( or Susan Hattan (

MORE News from NAICU