NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara Mistick

December 17, 2021

Dear Colleague: 

The end-of-year flurry of activity continued this week in Washington. Today’s Washington Update includes stories related to veteran students on campuses and the Department of Education’s negotiated rulemaking panel, which NAICU was very engaged in, that looked at issues related to affordability and student loans.

The most important news this week is the passage of the REMOTE Act (H. R. 5545), extending COVID flexibilities for GI bill benefits until June 2022, and implementing technical corrections regarding “rounding-out,” incentive compensation for foreign student recruitment, and streamlining consumer information. As I wrote in my email yesterday, I am extremely grateful that so many of you took time out of your busy schedules to help “unstick” this bill in the Senate and ensure our veterans can continue to receive their rightly-deserved educational benefits. Our lead story provides much more detail on this bill.
  • Congress raised the debt ceiling to maintain federal borrowing past the November 2022 elections.
  • Congress finally passed the National Defense Authorization Act, authorizing increased funding for the Pentagon, but without controversial amendments targeted toward higher education.
  • In the Senate, legislative work on the Build Back Better reconciliation bill that includes a $550 increase for the Pell Grant maximum continues in committees and with the Senate parliamentarian. However, political negotiations remain stalled between the White House and Senate Democrats on how to move the bill through the next steps of the process. The goal was to pass the bill before Christmas, but President Biden acknowledged last night that negotiations will spill into next year. This will be a top priority for the Senate in January, as the last payments of the child care tax credit will be January 15, 2022, unless they are extended by the reconciliation bill.

    With this timeline in mind, NAICU will continue its advocacy for Double Pell in the New Year, with a particular focus on achieving increases in Pell through reconciliation and the FY 2022 appropriations process.
  • Emmanual Guillory, NAICU’s director of student and institutional aid policy, was recently named President of the Committee for Education Funding (CEF), a coalition that advocates for increasing the federal investment in education.  Emmanual continues the tradition of NAICU representation as president of CEF, following Stephanie Giesecke, senior director of budget and appropriations, who led the group on two prior occasions.
Double Pell 
  • 75% of Americans support “doubling” the Pell Grant and 82% support “expanding” the grant.
  • Majorities of Republicans support increasing Pell no matter how it’s phrased (77% “expand”; 66% “double”), and Democratic support in the two questions is nearly identical (91% “expand”; 88% “double”).

    GBAO survey of 1,000 registered voters conducted November 2021.

This has been a trying year on so many fronts for all of us. I know how hard you are working every day to make your campus a safe, healthy, and respectful environment for your students, faculty and staff. It is why I am ever so grateful for the time, energy, and commitment you have lent to advocating on behalf of private, nonprofit higher education and the students we serve.
I have asked much of you throughout the year. From COVID relief – multiple times! – to important feedback on the impact of various regulations on your campus to your response this week to help our veteran students. From responding to a survey about your FAFSA numbers to letting us know how you’re using your COVID relief funds on campus.  And, of course, your efforts to help us advocate for doubling the Pell Grant.
Each time you have responded and added your voice to our mission. I have said it many times throughout the year, and as I reflect on the year now, I am as convinced as ever that we are truly better when we’re working together.
As this year comes to an end, I wish you and your campus community a very healthy and happy holiday season and New Year.
This will be the last issue of Washington Update for the year. Our next scheduled issue will be January 7, 2022. If there is breaking news between now and then, we will be sure to communicate with you.
Barbara K. Mistick, D.M.
President, NAICU

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