NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

March 18, 2022

Dear Colleague:

March madness isn’t just taking place on basketball courts around the country. It also happens to be an apt description of all the legislative, regulatory, and policy activities that took place this week in Washington. From the Pell Grant to negotiated-rulemaking and from issues affecting international students and veteran students, there were many topics we covered this week that will impact our campuses.

It was rewarding to see President Biden sign the long overdue federal appropriations bill, making the $400 increase in the Pell Grant maximum, as well as the other increases in federal student and institutional aid programs, final. This is yet another step in the right direction toward doubling the Pell Grant max. Next we will move onto the Administration’s proposals for the FY 2023 budget, which should be unveiled this spring.

On the regulatory front, some of the most critical work for our institutions’ futures is going on at the negotiating table at the Department of Education, where conversations have been lively and, at times, contentious. The negotiated-rulemaking committee is debating what will be in the regulations the Department will propose later this year. Issues being discussed cover such far ranging topics as: 1) the conditions under which nonprofit institutions can have their status as nonprofits reviewed by the Department; 2) employment outcomes for credential programs, including credential programs that enroll small numbers of students; 3) the consequences for failing federal financial responsibility scores; 4) requirements on institutions with students who are remote out-of-state learners in programs that require state licensure; and 5) the responsibilities of institutions to validate high school diplomas. The rulemaking is scheduled to finish today. I will provide a more detailed report on the outcomes next week.

We are also in conversation with the Department of State on the possible effects of the war in Ukraine on our campuses and students. I will also have more to report on this in the near future.

Finally, because of your advocacy, especially during the NAICU Annual Meeting, and the behind the scenes work that has been ongoing with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) since October 2020, the VA is preparing to implement another delay of the reporting deadline for the reset of the 35 percent waiver and the 85/15 rule regarding the use of GI Bill benefits for educational purposes. It is our understanding that the new deadline will be July 1, 2022.

While the delay does not fix the underlying issues institutions are facing with implementing the new reporting, it signals that the VA has clearly heard from the higher education community that the reset is not working as intended, and that access to programs veteran students want to take could be inadvertently denied.

While we await the official notice, I can share our understanding of what to expect:

  • VA will review the content and materials for the reset on all platforms to ensure they are consistent. This includes the School Certifying Officer (SCO) handbook, the Education Services website, and the training slides.
  • VA will provide more training for SCOs on how to comply with the reset.
  • VA will present updated information on upcoming “Office Hours” sessions.
  • VA will allow institutions to submit a signed copy of their reporting form, which has proven difficult to populate, and institutions may attach their calculations on an Excel spreadsheet as they have done previously.
  • VA will allow institutions that have already submitted reports to resubmit by the July 1 deadline if they choose.
  • New information will be distributed by the VA so that all stakeholders and interested parties have access to the updates.
  • As we reported last week, NAICU joined a community letter in support of the Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act, a bill that would temporarily authorize the provision of interstate telehealth services during the pandemic. Although Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) planned to offer the bill as an amendment during the March 15 markup of the PREVENT Pandemics Act, he ultimately did not, choosing instead to continue working with leadership on ways to address the issue of telehealth reciprocity during future pandemics.
  • We continue to prepare for our participation in the listening session (see Soundbites from March 4 Washington Update) that the Department of Labor will hold with representatives from the higher education community on March 29, as it considers adjustments to the overtime threshold white collar exemption amount. In addition, the higher education community is working with CUPA-HR to prepare for the upcoming discussion, including gathering specific data on campus employees and colleges that would be greatly affected by a significant increase in the salary threshold, especially the many private, nonprofit colleges located in regions with lower costs of living and corresponding salaries. A reminder that if you’d like to submit any particular concerns your institution has on this matter, please contact Karin Johns, NAICU’s director of tax policy, at, by March 25.
  • The Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) are hosting a webinar focused on helping students with basic needs, such as food insecurity. Specifically, the webinar will provide details on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), including student eligibility criteria and the role colleges and universities can play in ensuring their eligible students are aware of and accessing these important benefits. The webinar, titled College Students and SNAP, will be held March 31, at 2:00 pm EDT (register).

Double Pell

According to a national survey by GBAO on behalf of NAICU, 87% of Americans support the Pell Grant and 75% support doubling the maximum Pell Grant award. The survey also shows that, even in a time of hyper-partisanship, the Pell Grant has broad, bipartisan support, with 66% of Republicans and 88% of Democrats agreeing that the grant should be doubled.

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

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