NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

March 11, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

This was an important legislative week for federal financial aid for our students and marks another milestone in our continuing effort to double the Pell Grant maximum.

As I write to you today, Congress has finally approved and sent to the president the $1.5 trillion FY 2022 appropriations package, which includes a $400 increase in the Pell Grant, bringing the maximum grant to $6,895 starting July 1. This the largest single-year increase in the Pell Grant maximum since 2009.

For our sector alone, this increase will mean $290 million in aid and allow our institutions to complete their student aid packages for the fall. This is the next step toward doubling the Pell Grant, which will help millions of students pay for college next year.

This funding, along with increased support for SEOG and Federal Work-Study, will help strengthen institutions by enhancing access and assisting with affordability. Your advocacy during the last year has helped convince Congress to maintain its bipartisan support for these important programs.

Now that Congress has completed the FY 2022 bill, we expect to see President Biden’s FY 2023 budget plan soon. We are anticipating that this is where we learn more about his State of the Union proposal to increase the Pell Grant maximum by more than $2,000. We must continue our work together to reinforce the value and importance of the Pell Grant and to advocate for doubling the maximum award.


  • On Monday negotiated rulemaking will enter its final week of scheduled negotiations with much at stake for our institutions, including new regulations on such complex topics as Gainful Employment programs, Administrative Capability and Financial Responsibility Standards. The private, nonprofit sector is ably represented by NAICU’s Director of Student and Institutional Aid Policy, Emmanual Guillory, who appears to have secured some important improvements in the proposed regulations. However, there is still much to be negotiated and next week’s conversations will determine if the final agreement on a proposed package is something we can support or will have to oppose.
  • The White House is considering extending the pandemic pause on student loan payments past its current May 1 expiration date. Servicers for the massive $1.6 trillion portfolio received notices this week from the Department of Education to hold off on notifying borrowers about upcoming scheduled payment restarts. The notices follow comments from the White House last week that it is considering another delay.
  • A federal appellate court ruled that a lawsuit seeking COVID-related tuition and fee refunds may proceed. The decision, which reversed a lower court’s dismissal of the case, is the first appellate ruling in several tuition refund cases against private, nonprofit colleges and universities. NAICU has joined several amicus briefs seeking dismissal of these cases at the appellate level.
  • Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) plans to offer the Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act as an amendment during the March 15th markup of the PREVENT Pandemics Act. The TREAT Act would temporarily authorize the provision of interstate telehealth services during the pandemic. This has been a goal for higher education since the beginning of the pandemic, but has been opposed by some of the major medical groups. The provision’s prospects for passage continues to be unclear.

Finally, we keep hearing positive comments and feedback from our recent 2022 Annual Meeting & Advocacy Day. It was so great to be together again here in Washington. For those who couldn’t make it to Washington for the meeting, or who may have missed some of the sessions, we have made several available for viewing on our meeting’s Highlights and Resources page, including:

  • The 50-Year Journey to Define a Great Society, my conversation with presidential historian Michael Beschloss (log-in is required to view this session; please use NAICU2022).
  • A View from a Washington Observer, the 2022 midterm election outlook from Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales (log-in is required to view this session; please use NAICU2022).
  • Pell Grants: Past Successes, Future Challenges, an important conversation about the future of the Pell Grant with David H. Feldman, Ph.D., professor of economics, College of William & Mary and Donald E. Heller, Ed.D., vice president of operations and professor of education, University of San Francisco.
  • Restorative Justice and the Role of Faith, an impactful and emotional presentation by David T. Tyson, C.S.C., president, Holy Cross College.

Double Pell

“What took the weight off my shoulders was the certainty that I would receive a federal Pell Grant to support my attendance to any college. My Pell Grants have been instrumental to my attendance at Trinity Washington University since 2019. Because of my Pell grants, I have unlimited options for choosing a fulfilling career path and paving a more dignified and safer future for my immigrant, hard-working family that would have been unimaginable to that sophomore in high school Michelle. At a time when the American dream can seem so unattainable, the federal Pell Grants make it possible for me to be the first in my entire Latino family to go to college.”

Michelle Vasquez, student and Student Government Council president, Trinity Washington University, Washington DC, excerpted from remarks given during NAICU’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Pell Grant.

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