NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

June 24, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

Sometimes there are days that take off in so many different directions that in the years ahead it will be hard to imagine the magnitude of all the things that transpired on the same day. Yesterday, June 23, was such a day and you were part of making it memorable.

First and foremost, it was the 50th anniversary of the Pell Grant. This was a day we have been targeting for more than a year to highlight the important role this program has played in increasing opportunity in higher education and in strengthening our nation by strengthening our citizens. But when we first planned to mark yesterday on our calendars, who could have imagined all of the following things would happen:

  • National Pell Day declared by the House, Senate and White House. Here is my statement issued yesterday on the importance of Pell.
  • Floor speeches in both the House and Senate by members of Congress highlighting the importance of this program.
  • A bi-partisan celebration attended by more than 300 members of the higher education advocacy community, the Administration, and Members of Congress and staff from the key education committees.
  • During the reception, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee marked up a proposed $500 increase in the Pell Grant maximum, another step forward in our Double Pell campaign although a far cry from the president’s proposed increase for the next fiscal year.
  • The level of social and traditional media engagement throughout the day. We saw social media engagement on the Pell anniversary from the President, Vice President, many Members of Congress and the Administration, your colleges and universities, our state executive and secretariat networks, and, importantly, from students and Pell alumni. 

I am so grateful to all of you who helped us refocus federal support for this important program. The day made me filled with renewed appreciation for all you do to support students. We are creating a highlights page on our website to capture as much of the engagement and excitement of the day as we can and will pass that along when it’s complete.

But if yesterday was not already exciting enough, it was also the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which was also part of the Higher Education Act of 1972, and the day the Biden Administration chose to release its 700-page proposal to revise the current regulations. It will take time to digest the complex set of regulatory proposals, but rest assured we are conducting a thorough analysis and will provide a summary and implications soon. See today’s story in Washington Update for a topline overview of the proposals. 

Finally, yesterday we received some great news on our efforts to fix the regulatory chaos for our veterans education programs that emerged over the past year. The bi-partisan leadership of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees introduced legislation that would exempt any institution in which less than 35% of their enrolled students are veterans from the 85/15 rule. We know from our survey that this would protect all of the nearly 350 institutions that completed our survey.

So June 23 was definitely a day to remember! You can find more details about the Pell increase and appropriations, Title IX, and the veterans fix in our Soundbites below and this week’s Washington Update.


  • As mentioned above, the House and Senate introduced a bill to fix the problems institutions are having with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ implementation of the 85/15 rule. Importantly, the bill was introduced by the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees. The legislation would exempt all institutions with 35% or fewer veteran student enrollment from the 85/15 requirements. Your response to the NAICU survey (survey summary) and communications with us over the last year about this issue have been critical to helping us find a solution to the problems for all affected NAICU institutions. I will be sending an Action Alert next week asking you to urge your congressional delegation to support the bill so it can be enacted before the fall semester.
  • On Tuesday, NAICU co-hosted a webinar with representatives from the Department of Education to provide details and answer questions about the temporary opportunity for borrowers to reset their eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness between now and October 31. The webinar was particularly relevant for campus human resource and alumni affairs directors to ensure private college employees and graduates are aware of the program reset. If you missed the webinar or would like to pass it along to your staff, here is a link to the recording and presentation slides.
  • In another effort to address rising student loan debt, the Biden Administration has agreed to approve outstanding borrower defense to repayment claims made by 200,000 borrowers resulting in over $6 billion in total student loan debt forgiveness. This will wipe way the debt for three-quarters of borrowers with outstanding claims, but 68,000 claims remain for the Department to individually decide on in the next six months. This announcement comes amidst continuing pressure from Democrats to provide more wide-scale student loan forgiveness.

Double Pell

“As the 50th anniversary of the Pell Grant approaches on June 23, the best way to honor and celebrate this program’s legacy is by revitalizing the grant to do what it was intended to do: Help make higher education more accessible and more affordable for more Americans. I echo the nationwide call to ‘Double Pell.’”

Lola W. Brabham, president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities of New York, in an op-ed published on June 22, 2022 in the Albany Times Union.

As I wrote in my statement marking Pell’s 50th anniversary, now that the celebration is over, we must continue our work to ensure that the maximum award is increased as quickly as possible, putting these expanded resources in the hands of students sooner rather than later. I thank you for all the time and energy you have committed to our efforts. The success we had yesterday could not have been achieved without your hard work and dedication. It will take that same determination to realize our goal of doubling the Pell Grant maximum.

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