NAICU Washington Update

Foreign Gift Reporting Portal Now Open

June 25, 2020

The Department of Education announced that its new portal for Section 117 Foreign Gift Reporting is ready for institutions to use to log foreign gifts from the first part of 2020 in time for the July 31 reporting deadline. The department’s new portal replaces the eAPP electronic application process implemented in 2004 for foreign gift reporting. 
Section 117 of the Higher Education Act requires institutions of higher education to report foreign gifts or contracts of $250,000 or more to the department. This requirement has been in law for decades, but has recently been revisited because of increased concern with foreign influence on college campuses.
Reporting elements have been expanded based on the February Information Collection Request  under the Paperwork Reduction Act, not the negotiated rulemaking process that brings together stakeholders to discuss the best way to implement changes. Going forward, the Section 117 reports will be publicly available on a searchable database hosted by the department.
The department’s announcement includes details delineating exactly what must be reported and questions and answers to help institutions fill out the reports. 
Using the new portal, institutions must report on the following:
  • The foreign source of the gift or contract, including the name and address of the foreign source or individual.
  • The institution, department or related entity the gift or contract is given to.
  • The amount of the gift or contract and the terms of the gift or contract, including start and end dates and specific restrictions or conditions of the grant or contract.
  • If the gift or contract is restricted or has conditional contract provisions, the institution must report whether those restrictions relate to the employment, assignment, or termination of faculty; the establishment of departments, centers, research or lecture programs, or new faculty positions; the selection or admission of students; or the award of grants, loans, scholarships, fellowships, or other forms of financial aid restricted to students of a specified country, religion, sex, ethnic origin, or political opinion.
  • Whoever files the report is subject to fines or imprisonment for knowingly providing false information.
The Q and A provides information on the department’s interpretation of the following:
  • Purchases made by an institution from a foreign source do not have to be reported, but should be evaluated to see if they should be reported.
  • Tuition is a “contract” but does not need to be reported unless it meets the $250,000 annual threshold.  This could be met if a single source is paying for multiple students in one year.
  • Institutions should report the value of a contract or gift at $250,000 or more when it enters into the agreement with the foreign source.
  • Institutions should report gifts to intermediary sources with direct association with the institution.
  • Institutions should report the names and addresses of anonymous donors; should make a reasonable effort to find that information; and the department will not make that information part of the publicly searchable database of reports.

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