NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara Mistick

January 21, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

As 2022 gets into full swing, this week saw significant activity at the agency level within the Biden Administration that will affect higher education, including at the Departments Education, Homeland Security, and State. 

The most significant piece of news comes from the Department of Education, which announced a series of actions designed to help students and institutions address the ongoing pandemic through the existing Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) program. The Department issued new guidance on the expanded uses of existing HEERF funds to address student basic needs that will help them stay in college. It also announced that it will award the remaining funds under HEERF to address ongoing needs related to coronavirus. Our lead story this week provides more details on the Department’s actions.

This week’s Washington Update also includes stories on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s planned investigation into private student lending at colleges and universities for compliance with federal consumer protection laws and a series of new STEM initiatives announced by the White House.


  • The Department of Homeland Security announced the reestablishment of the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC) for a period of two years. Established during the Obama Administration, but not renewed during the Trump Administration, HSAAC includes college presidents and other education and national security representatives appointed by the Secretary of DHS. The council serves as the group responsible for advising the Secretary on issues of mutual importance. Currently, there is no additional information on timing or the specific individuals expected to be appointed by the Secretary to the council.
  • Free COVID tests. NAICU has shared concerns it has been hearing regarding issues with ordering free COVID tests, including those related to multi-unit residences such as dormitories, with the White House and the Department of Education. While they are working on resolving the issue, they recommend reaching out directly to the postal service by filing a service request at or contacting their help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777) to help address the issue and answer your questions.
  • The Department of Education began its negotiated rulemaking process this week with the Institutional and Programmatic Eligibility Committee. The committee is considering a total of seven issues and began discussions on all. The issues that have received the most robust conversation so far include the ability to benefit, gainful employment, and financial responsibility. A new seat representing civil rights organizations was added to the committee as well. The next negotiated rulemaking session will take place February 14-18.
  • NAICU hosted a webinar this week with representatives from FEMA to provide information and answer questions pertaining to the agency’s available public assistance for colleges and universities to help with COVID-related expenses. The webinar touched on eligibility parameters for campus activities that would be authorized for public assistance, applying for public assistance after any declared emergency, and how to submit claims to be reimbursed for eligible COVID-related expenses.

Double Pell

“I am urging lawmakers to come back to the table and find a way to make doubling Pell Grants a reality. We need this dramatic increase in first-dollar funding via Double Pell so that degree pursuers of all kinds can cast aside onerous loans and work hours, clearing a path to the college graduation they are working to achieve.”

Meredith College President Jo Allen in an op-ed published this week in The Hill, a Washington, DC publication focused on Capitol Hill.

2022 Annual Meeting & Advocacy Day

NAICU’s 2022 Annual Meeting and Advocacy Day will begin in just over two weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing hundreds of you here in Washington as we come together to focus on the 2022 policy agenda and the priorities of the Biden Administration. We have an exciting program with dozens of policy and higher education experts who will provide their insights, lessons learned, and advice as we work to make our voices heard with our elected officials and members of the Administration.

If you haven’t done so already, there is still plenty of time to register. Your health and safety is our number one priority. NAICU is committed to protecting the health and safety of all who participate in the Annual Meeting and is requiring proof of vaccination in order to attend. Also, please be aware that proof of vaccination is currently required for entry into many Washington, DC public spaces, including restaurants. You can review our complete Health and Safety Protocols on our conference webpage.

I look forward to seeing you at our 2022 Annual Meeting and Advocacy Day, February 6-9 in Washington, DC.

Barbara K. Mistick, D.M.
President, NAICU

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