NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

March 04, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

The events unfolding in Ukraine continue to dominate the political and policy discourse in Washington, DC and, in fact, around the world. I continue to hope and pray for a peaceful resolution. I know that for many of you, this conflict has had a direct impact on your campus, with students, faculty, and other members of your community affected.

Earlier this week, NAICU joined with several other higher education associations in sending a letter to the Departments of State and Homeland Security asking the agencies to “provide as much flexibility and support as possible for Ukrainian students and scholars currently in the United States, and for students and scholars seeking to leave Ukraine during the current crisis.”

Specifically, the letter urged to agencies to offer Ukrainian students in the United States on F-1 or J-1 visas, as well as those completing F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) or J-1 Academic Training, flexibility regarding their current visas.

I also know that many of you have created tools and resources to help your campus communities during this time. This morning, for example, I saw this suite of resources compiled by the Office of International Affairs at Lehigh University and these resources from Manor College, which was founded by Ukrainian religious sisters in the United States. 

In higher education policy news, President Biden made an important call for increasing the maximum Pell Grant award (see this week’s first story) in his State of the Union Address. Ultimately, the President is urging Congress to increase the maximum by “more than” $2,000. 

This is another important step in our work to double the maximum Pell Grant award. Your efforts have elevated the importance of the Pell Grant around the country and our voices are clearly being heard in Congress and the Administration. However, we still need to push this through to the finish line. Our work cannot stop here. We must keep up our advocacy and must make sure that our Members of Congress continue to hear our calls – and those of our students – to double Pell.

  • The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will hold a “listening session” for a group of higher education leaders on March 29. NAICU has been invited to participate. As you may recall, NAICU announced that efforts were underway at DOL to update the overtime threshold white collar exemption amount that was previously adjusted during the Trump Administration. There remains concern that the Biden Administration will substantially raise the current amount and be a significant burden for many private, nonprofit colleges. In preparation for the listening session, please feel free to submit any particular concerns your institution has on this matter to Karin Johns, NAICU’s director of tax policy, at, by March 25th.
  • The Department of Education released an updated version of its Accreditation Handbook, which provides guidance to accrediting agencies seeking federal recognition from the Department. This edition replaces the previous version issued in 2020.
  • NAICU joined a Department of Health and Human Services stakeholder call this week that discussed the Biden Administration’s strategies to address the current mental health crisis, including a national tour conducted by the Secretary. The tour is part of a broader initiative to strengthen mental health by improving system capacity, connect people to care, and create healthier environments.
  • NAICU joined the higher education community in drafting and releasing a statement regarding the importance of preserving free and open academic inquiry and debate on campus.

Double Pell

“We need to urge our lawmakers to double the Pell Grant to ensure access and affordability across higher education. Doubling the Pell could put more Pell-eligible students back on the college track, retain students who are considering dropping out, and amplify programs that will ensure their success. What better way to make Pell-eligible students feel like they too belong in college and can succeed in attaining their degree, then to make sure they can rely on adequate funding that will make it possible.”

Montserrat Fuentes, president of St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, in an op-ed published in Diverse Issues in Higher Education

“Every person in our community who is thinking about college—whether they are seeking two or four-year degrees—should complete the FAFSA: the free application for federal student aid. That will let them know if they qualify for Pell—and for other aid programs. Together with students’ families, their school counsellors, coaches, mentors, and friends, we can help our young people seize the power of Pell.”

William Craft, president of Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, in an op-ed published in The (Moorhead) Forum

These stories and more are covered in today’s issue of Washington Update.
Barbara K. Mistick, D.M.
President, NAICU

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