NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

August 12, 2022

Dear Colleagues:

As I’ve written the past few weeks, August is typically a quiet time here in Washington. It is usually the only time most people associated with Congress can take leave and the only time left in the calendar when it seems we can depend on Congress not to be in session.

But this year, even August’s quiet is being disrupted as the Senate finally found the 50 votes needed to pass a reconciliation bill (The Inflation Reduction Act) to promote President Biden’s agenda. While the grand bill, originally dubbed Build Back Better, pivoted in a new direction with a new purpose and name, it still took massive wrangling to get it through the Senate. Now the House must pass the new bill before September 30, when the reconciliation instructions expire. Currently, it looks like the House will come back in special session today to get the job done. 

In other news, last week the Senate passed the Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act under unanimous consent to suspend the rules. The House is expected to take up this legislation after its August recess. I hope you will continue to engage with your Member of Congress and impress upon them the importance of getting this legislation passed, and the problems with the 85/15 rule fixed, as quickly as possible so our veteran students have access to the programs they want. 

Yesterday, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona brought together members of the Biden Administration, the Department, and higher education leaders from around the country for a summit focused on college excellence and equity. Dubbed Raise the B.A.R. (Bold Action and Results), the summit covered issues from exploring how to impact student well-being and basic needs to building community and using data to improve outcomes. Sarah Flanagan, NAICU’s vice president for government relations and policy development, was joined by several representatives from NAICU member institutions in representing the private, nonprofit sector of higher education at the summit. We will provide additional detail on the summit in next week’s Washington Update.


  • Senate Passes 85/15 Fix. Before last weekend’s votes on the Inflation Reduction Act reconciliation package, the Senate passed the Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act by unanimous consent and sent it to the House for consideration. This bill would fix the problems institutions are having implementing the Department of Veterans Affairs 85/15 rule regarding how many veterans versus non-veterans can be enrolled in a program by allowing a true waiver for institutions with 35% or fewer veteran students. The effective date of the fix is upon enactment.
  • The Senate also confirmed the nomination of Nasser Paydar to be Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at the Department of Education. In a statement, Secretary Cardona welcomed Paydar and noted his “unwavering commitment to creating accessible pathways to college and careers for students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. Paydar is chancellor emeritus of Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.
  • NAICU participated in a briefing hosted by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Consular Affairs to bring higher education representatives up to date on student visa issuance issues. The Bureau announced that, as of July 2022, visa processing at international consular affairs sites overall has exceeded pre-pandemic levels. The Bureau’s goal is to further exceed those levels and return to 2015/2016 levels. The implementation of the interview waiver authority was the biggest boost to visa processing lags. They also announced increased passport services to help more U.S. students study abroad. Additional information on their programs and services can be found at
  • NAICU submitted a comment letter concerning pending regulations from the Department of Education. The letter addresses the proposals for closed school discharge, public service loan forgiveness, and borrower defense to repayment. The letter was submitted on behalf of the private, nonprofit sector and supported by 39 NAICU member associations and organizations.

Double Pell

“The advantage of the Pell Grant is that it is targeted to low- and moderate-income families … those are the individuals who are unrepresented in our higher education system. (The Pell Grant) helps these students get “into the educational institution that best fits their educational and social needs.”

Claude Presnell, president, Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association

“Without the Pell Grant, I may not have had the opportunity to attend Lemoyne College. Because of the Pell Grant, the financial burden of going to college is made better.”

Alexandria Lowe, student, LeMoyne-Owen College (Memphis, TN)

These quotes were part of an extensive interview conducted by the local CBS affiliate in Memphis, TN earlier this summer about the importance of the Pell Grant and the need to see the maximum award doubled.

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