NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

November 18, 2022

Dear Colleagues:

The implications of the recent elections continue to emerge, most obviously with the Republicans taking over the majority in the House of Representatives and yesterday’s announcement by the Democratic leadership in the House that they will be stepping aside to allow new leaders to emerge. Decisions about most of the other key leadership slots in the House and Senate appear to be going as expected despite the elections being closer than most predicted. After caucus meetings this week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will remain top Republican leaders and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) seems to be keeping his Majority Leader status in the Senate.

It is the Committee leadership, however, that we are watching most closely. These decisions will take a bit longer to make given the major game of musical chairs that emerges after elections when the majority changes or there are significant retirements. Among the most important announcements this week for higher education was Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) decision not to be the lead Republican on the Senate HELP Committee. His decision paves the way for Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to take that slot. Also this week, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the current chair of the Senate HELP committee, and Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) confirmed that they plan to chair the Senate and House Appropriations Committees respectively.

So, as the results trickle in from the last remaining congressional districts and we await the result of the Senate run-off in Georgia, we will be keeping an eye on the Washington, DC political rumor mill.

This week’s Washington Update includes updates on the legal status of President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program and a class action case regarding borrower defense claims, and a story highlighting NAICU’s support for legislation that seeks to expand study abroad options.

Washington Update will be taking a break next week for the Thanksgiving holiday. If there is any late-breaking news from Washington next week, we will certainly notify you. Otherwise, Washington Update will return on December 2.

  • NAICU Webinar: NAICU is hosting a webinar, New Education Regulations and their Effects on Institutional Risk, about the final rules recently issued by the Department of Education that resulted from earlier negotiated rulemaking sessions. The webinar will include NAICU’s president, Barbara Mistick, and director of student and institutional aid, Emmanual Guillory, who was a key negotiator in the neg-reg committee meetings. They will highlight the key components of the rules and take your questions. The webinar will be Tuesday, December 6, from 3:00-4:00 p.m. EST (Register).
  • The FBI announced earlier this week that it has identified a suspect who the agency says is responsible for most of the bomb threats against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that began in January. According to the FBI, it has “identified one juvenile believed to be responsible for a majority of the threats” to HBCUs. The Department of Justice is working with state prosecutors to hold the minor accountable. 
  • Higher education is starting to see a rebound of international student enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities. According to a new report from the Institute of International Education, overall foreign student enrollment increased by 4% during the 2021-2022 academic year compared to 2020-2021, which coincided with the pandemic. While overall enrollment still falls short of pre-pandemics levels, the data show a clear reverse to the large drop in numbers during the prior academic year. Pressure will remain on Congress and the Biden Administration to develop policies that encourage more students to study in the U.S., including addressing issues at consular offices like staffing and visa processing.
  • The Department of Education held a briefing on the Affordable Connectivity Program, which was created by the bipartisan infrastructure law. The program provides eligible households (including Pell Grant households) a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price. Currently, 15 million households are enrolled and there are millions more that have not yet taken advantage of the program. The Department is asking colleges and universities to help raise awareness of the program among students and has created a toolkit to help campuses in this effort.
Double Pell

“… doubling the maximum Pell Grant would also expand the expected family contribution range that qualifies students for Pell, in turn extending eligibility to some additional, moderate-income students who do not currently qualify for the grant.”

Excerpted from a report released earlier this fall by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and reported on by University Business.

This has been another challenging year, though we have made great strides for our students and institutions. We have much to be thankful for as we head into the Thanksgiving break. I hope you and your campus community have a healthy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. 

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

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