NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

April 22, 2022

Dear Colleagues:

Student loan forgiveness was back in the national news this week as the Biden Administration continued its targeted approach to forgiving debt.  This week the Administration focused on providing relief (directed in some cases to individuals and in others to whole classes of borrowers) to those who had selected Income-Driven Repayment plans during the nearly 20 years the programs have been in existence.
The repayment plans have been widely criticized, with plenty of blame to go around, for their complexity for borrowers.  The programs were poorly designed by Congress and then poorly executed by numerous Administrations and student loan servicers.  Now, the Biden Administration is attempting to clean up the mess by providing some automatic forgiveness, some partial relief, and better consumer tools for the future.
The forgiveness announced this week adds to the more than $17 billion in debt the Administration has already cancelled for 725,000 borrowers.  These moves are also in addition to the extension of the student loan pandemic payment pause for 41 million borrowers the Administration previously announced.  Rather than adopting proposals from the left to provide broad borrower relief to all current student loan borrowers in repayment, these steps are additional examples of the Biden Administration taking a more targeted approach to debt forgiveness.
As the co-chair of the Student Aid Alliance, I’d like to call your attention to the letter we sent to House and Senate Appropriations Committee members requesting that they Double the Pell Grant maximum and significantly increase student aid in their FY 2023 spending plan.
If your Representative or Senator sits on the House or Senate Appropriations Committee, please write them to reinforce these funding requests, and let them know what the bipartisan support for federal student aid funding means for your students. Remember that you can use the NAICU Student Aid Data Sheets to show the impact of these investments in your state and congressional district. 
You can find more details about both of these issues in today’s Washington Update.

  • SAVE THE DATE – NEW WEBINAR DETAILS: Join us for our upcoming webinar with the Department of State on April 27 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EDT (Register).  Titled: USA Study Abroad Programs and Institutional Resources, the Department’s U.S. Study Abroad office – or USA Study Abroad – seeks to increase the number of American students studying abroad and to reach parts of American society that are currently underrepresented in study abroad. Join us to learn about Department of State programs for American students to study abroad through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, the Critical Language Scholarship Program and hear about the IDEAS Program, which provides small grants of up to $35,000 to U.S. colleges and universities to create, expand, and/or diversify their study abroad programs. The U.S. Department of State also offers a number of free webinars and workshops to the U.S. higher education community on American student mobility through our IDEAS Program. 
  • The Department of Education released a Dear Colleague Letter to colleges and universities reminding them of their responsibilities under the Higher Education Act to distribute voter registration forms to students during election years.  The letter also promoted various resources to help students engage in the electoral process, including how Federal Work-Study may be used to support certain nonpartisan activities.  The suggestions for campus engagement closely align with the Your Voice, Your Vote efforts NAICU has spearheaded for nearly two decades. 
  • UPDATE: As your School Certifying Official probably knows, the VA Education Services canceled the live “office hours” sessions scheduled for April 20 and 21, just hours before they were set to start. VA has shared that the cancellations were because of technical difficulties with the webinar delivery. The training sessions are expected to be rescheduled soon, as Education Service has many topics to cover, including compliance with 85/15 reporting requirements and the definitions of supported v. non-supported students. VA made the webinar slides available, which includes coverage of the changes in 85/15, and encourages SCOs to review the slides before the rescheduled session so that they can have prepared questions. VA intended to ensure ample time for questions, as they understand the concern around this topic. 
  • SAVE THE DATE: On April 26, from 1:00-2:15 p.m. EDT, the #DoublePell Alliance is hosting a free advocacy training webinar for student advocates and student organizers on campus titled, “Join the Movement: How Student Advocacy Can Help Make #DoublePell Happen.” (Register)  The event will feature Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI), Tom Schnurr, director of government affairs at the Commission on Independent Colleges & Universities in New York, other advocacy experts, and current students as they explain how to get involved in #DoublePell advocacy. I hope you will pass this information along to your students.
Double Pell logo 
Eighty-two percent of Americans like the idea that Pell Grants help low-income students no matter race, ethnicity, gender, or age. (Data graphics and social media resources)
Source: A survey conducted by GBAO, on behalf of NAICU, of 1,000 registered voters, interviewed via online web panel.  November 2021. 

While Congress is still on break, a reminder that this is an excellent time to reach out to your elected officials, have them to campus and discuss the many public policy issues before us, including doubling Pell.  Through the national Double Pell campaign and NAICU’s resources for the private, nonprofit sector, there are many tools available to help with these important conversations.

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