NAICU Washington Update

Introduction by Barbara K. Mistick

October 14, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

This week, I was pleased to attend the Times Higher Education World Academic Summit in New York City, which brought together some of the world’s most influential leaders and researchers to discuss how to identify and meet the rising expectations placed on higher education. The ideas and themes discussed during the summit are similar to those our Board of Directors and leadership will be addressing next week during our Fall Leadership Conference. Those conversations will be centered on issues such as affordability, cost, and the “value” of a higher education and will help guide our communications and advocacy work as we prepare for the upcoming 118th Congress.

In other news, I want to bring to your attention that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on October 12, and has held training sessions on changes to the 85/15 rule that are causing confusion.

Please let your School Certifying Officials (SCOs) know that the law passed in August, the Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act, exempts institutions that have a majority of accredited programs and 35% or less student veteran enrollment from any 85/15 calculating or reporting. Changes being proposed in the NPRM, and recent comments in training sessions, do not mention the fact that most public and private, nonprofit institutions are exempt from the 85/15 rules, thus the confusion. The VA sent this message to stakeholders to help explain its actions.

The NPRM proposes to change the definition of “supported student,” or the students that count on the 85% side of the ratio, to include students who receive any form of institutional aid. Again, this does not apply to most traditional four-year institutions, but it sets a precedent of putting a dangerous definition in regulation. We will dig into the details of the proposed rule and provide guidance on how NAICU will comment and how NAICU members can provide comments to the VA during the 60-day comment period. If you or your SCO have any questions, please contact Stephanie Giesecke, NAICU’s senior director of budget and appropriations (

This week’s Washington Update profiles the release of the most recent Cohort Default Rates (CDR) for higher education, which show that the private, nonprofit sector continues to have the lowest CDRs, the Biden Administration’s application for student debt relief, and new resources to help colleges and universities recover from natural disasters.


  • REMINDER: All applications for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness waiver must be submitted by October 31. All borrowers who submit their application by the deadline, regardless of whether the employer has certified the employment, will be eligible for forgiveness.
  • Citing its authority under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003, the Department of Education officially released a Federal Register notice to extended the student loan repayment pause until December 31, 2022, and cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for eligible borrowers. This step is in addition to a letter from the Office of the General Counsel to Secretary Miguel Cardona already released by the Department citing its authority to forgive student loans due to the national emergency.
  • As previously reported, NAICU was invited to attend a Department of Education listening session to receive input regarding the agency’s forthcoming regulations addressing racial and national origin discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The Biden Administration is planning to amend the Title VI regulations to better address discrimination against students based on actual or perceived (1) shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics or (2) citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or distinct religious identity. Although the Department did not reveal additional details about its regulatory plans during the session, NAICU’s Jody Feder, director of accountability and regulatory affairs, who was in attendance, emphasized that institutions are committed to addressing discrimination in all forms and that regulations should provide sufficient flexibility to the diverse range of institutional missions and cultures.

Double Pell

Earlier this week, Culver-Stockton College and President Douglas Palmer hosted Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) on campus to discuss issues of rural education, including the importance of the Pell Grant and the need to both increase the grant and continue the Year Around Pell initiative. Here is a link to the local television coverage of the event, which included comments from a student, faculty member, Sen. Blunt, and President Palmer speaking about their support for and the benefits of the Pell Grant. 

This is an excellent example of the benefits of hosting your elected officials on campus and I hope others will continue to organize similar events. If so, please be sure to let us know if you receive any publicity by emailing us at

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

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