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What Did I Miss? February 28-March 20, 2017

March 20, 2017

The steady stream of news emerging from the nation’s capital can be overwhelming. NACUBO highlights key actions and provides the status of top higher education business officer concerns.

Passed into Law

Teacher Preparation Rule Blocked. President Donald Trump approved a new law, recently passed by Congress, blocking implementation of Department of Education rules to measure the effectiveness of teacher preparation programs. NACUBO and other higher education associations had serious concerns with ED's approach. In part, the rule would have held teacher preparation programs accountable for the performance of teachers, based on their students' academic success.

Administrative Actions

Budget. Trump last week released a budget request for federal FY18. The 62-page plan calls for a $54-billion increase in defense spending, offset by $54 billion in reductions to non-defense discretionary programs. The next budget moves are in the hands of the members of the House and Senate, who will develop the final budget and consider the administration’s requests. Trump would level-fund Pell Grants but would eliminate or cut other federal student aid programs.

Immigration. Trump released a revised immigration travel ban on March 6, attempting to address the legal issues raised in the first version. The American Council on Education summarized the impact on colleges and universities in this brief; however, a federal judge subsequently halted enforcement of the second attempt.

IRS Data Retrieval for FAFSA. NACUBO and many others were surprised to learn about the shutdown of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Data Retrieval Tool, the system that helps students automatically input their tax information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). NACUBO has alerted the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service and urged expeditious reinstatement of the tool. In the meantime, the IRS offers these options for students.

H-1B Visas. The Trump administration has placed a temporary hold on expedited applications for H-1B visas. Beginning April 3, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will suspend "premium processing"—the procedure facilitating quick H-1B visa approvals for foreign nationals—for up to six months.

Still Pending

Affordable Care Act. The House GOP unveiled an Affordable Care Act replacement, but a final version will be dependent on negotiations as congressional leaders seek passage by the full House and Senate. The legislation as released does not repeal the provision allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26, but it did leave in place the widely unpopular "Cadillac tax" for plans with high premiums—although implementation of the tax would now be delayed until 2025.  

Overtime Rule. There is little new to report on the status of the Department of Labor overtime rule. The appeal still stands, but if the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the injunction, there’s still litigation ahead in the lower court. There will likely not be much news until a U.S. secretary of labor is in place to determine the administration’s legal and regulatory strategy. The current nominee is Alexander Acosta, who Trump selected after Andy Puzder withdrew his nomination.

Title IX. The Supreme Court on March 6 sent a case involving a transgender high school student back to a lower court. The case centers on interpretation of Title IX, questioning whether prohibiting a transgender student from using bathrooms that correspond with his gender identity is discriminatory and violates his civil rights.

Form 1098-T. It remains unclear how long it will take for the IRS to finalize new rules in response to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that called for significant reporting changes to the Form 1098-T.


Liz Clark
Senior Director, Federal Affairs