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What Did I Miss in Washington? July 21-August 14, 2017

August 14, 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.

On Capitol Hill

August Recess. Members of both the Senate and House of Representatives departed Washington earlier this month and will not return to Capitol Hill until after Labor Day. During the August recess, lawmakers and their staff often look for opportunities to visit with constituents in their home states and districts and regularly visit college and university campuses. NACUBO members may wish to consider these talking points on charitable giving and endowments, tax-exempt bond financing, energy efficiency, and the value of higher education if you have the opportunity to visit with federal policymakers.

New Veterans Benefits Approved by Congress. The House and Senate passed legislation aimed at better meeting the needs of student veterans. The bill lifts the current 15-year time limit for veterans to use their benefits and offers an additional year of benefit eligibility to students pursuing STEM degrees.  It also expands benefit eligibility to members of the National Guard and grants full eligibility to Purple Heart recipients, regardless of their time served. Further, the Department of Veterans Affairs reporting fee—a per-veteran payment issued to schools to help cover GI Bill certifications—will increase to $16 per student .

Tax Reform. With health care reform legislation failing to advance in the Senate, Congress is expected to accelerate efforts to develop and advance tax reform legislation. NACUBO weighed in with the Senate Finance Committee on a range of issues that are being considered in developing this legislation.

Administrative Action

1098-T Update. Colleges and universities are allowed to use the Box 2 reporting method for tax year 2017 reporting (forms filed in early 2018).  However, federal officials recently informed NACUBO that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is not planning to grant any further relief from the Box 1 reporting requirement on the Form 1098-T. Box 2 reporting will not be an option for the 2018 Form (forms filed in early 2019).

Overtime Rule Revisited. The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a new public Request for Information on the regulations that define exemptions from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime requirements for certain employees. The request asks the public to comment on “whether the standard salary level set in [the] rule effectively identifies employees who may be exempt, whether a different salary level would more appropriately identify such employees, the basis for setting a different salary level, and why a different salary level would be more appropriate or effective.”  

Advocacy

Higher Education Associations Weigh In on "Claw Back" Amicus. The American Council on Education recently led a comment effort on a case examining whether a bankruptcy trustee can recover payments to an institution from a parent paying for his or her child’s education when the parent has filed for bankruptcy. NACUBO and 18 other higher education associations signed on.

Immigration Legislation Advocacy Continues. NACUBO and 31 other higher education associations joined together in a letter led by the American Council on Education in support of new bipartisan legislation aimed at giving immigrant students a path to citizenship. This latest iteration of the previously proposed DREAM Act seeks to establish eight-year conditional permanent residency status for individuals who were brought to the U.S. as minors, have been here at least four years as of the enactment date of the legislation, and graduated from a U.S. high school, obtained a GED credential or have been admitted to a higher education institution, among other requirements.

This legislation is the latest effort coauthored  by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) to offer some measure of stability to immigrant students; NACUBO also supported the senators’ previous attempt to do so earlier this year in the form of the BRIDGE Act legislation.    

Perkins Loan Program Set to End. The federal Perkins Loan Program is set to expire Sept. 30. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) has introduced H.R. 2482, a bill to extend the program for another two years, but the likelihood of its passage is questionable. President Donald Trump's FY18 budget request assumed the program would end, and Capitol Hill Republicans reference efforts to streamline the federal student aid programs when asked about the outlook for the program.

Advocates have called for its extension until it can be addressed as part of a broader student aid reform effort in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). However, the prospects for action on HEA are slim in the current environment on Capitol Hill. NACUBO has endorsed calls to temporarily extend the program but is not optimistic that the program will continue.

NACUBO and EDUCAUSE Support a Fair and Open Internet. Do you know how the fight for a fair and open internet is poised to impact higher education? Megan Schneider, assistant director of federal affairs for NACUBO, and Jarret Cummings, director of policy and government relations for EDUCAUSE, highlight the current policy and technology landscape surrounding net neutrality, other information technology security concerns, and the actions each organization is taking in response during this NACUBO in Brief podcast.

NACUBO Corrects the Record. Liz Clark, director, federal affairs, and Ken Redd, director, research and policy analysis, recently sent a letter to the editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy clarifying misconceptions in its recent coverage of nonprofit endowments.

Previous Edition
What Did I Miss in Washington? July 10-July 21, 2017

Contact

Liz Clark
Director, Federal Affairs
202.861.2553
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