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A congressional staffer recently suggested Congressional action on tax policy in the coming months would resemble the "wild wild West." To date, legislators have taken little action to address the federal tax provisions expiring at the end of the year, nor has there been any agreement by policymakers on whether or not to address budget cuts expected in 2013 under the provisions of a looming sequester. However, given the economic-and political-stakes, almost any element of the federal tax code can be seen as "on the table" for negotiation when Congress ultimately decides to act.

Earlier this month, when members of Congress and their staff and turned their attention once again to legislative business after the annual August break, many were met by NACUBO members and staff who went to Capitol Hill to bring attention to a number of higher education-related tax and budgetary concerns. Sixteen NACUBO constituent council members and two NACUBO board members, in more than 52 meetings with legislators from 14 different states, discussed with policy makers the effect that certain legislative actions could have on access and affordability at colleges and universities across the country.

It is unclear how congressional action will unfold in the coming months, as November 6 Election Day results will impact the agenda for the lame-duck Congress and determine if and how certain decisions are punted to the newly-elected Congress that convenes in 2013. However, in anticipation of budgetary and tax-related debate, NACUBO has highlighted a number of concerns, outlined below.

For more information about the issues and to learn more about how you can take action, please contact Liz Clark, NACUBO's Director of Congressional Affairs.

NACUBO Fall Federal Policy Interests:

  • Tax Extenders. Several higher education-related tax incentives have expired or are set to expire at the end of this year. These incentives make higher education more accessible to students across many income levels and serve to alleviate some of the pressure on the strained budgets of students, families, and institutions.
  • Charitable Deduction. Given current concerns about the federal deficit, legislators are considering various spending cuts as well as new revenue sources. Among the ideas that have been offered is a proposal to limit itemized deductions, including the tax deduction for charitable donations.
  • Tax-Exempt Bond Financing. As federal policymakers look for ways to close the budget gap, some have proposed eliminating or limiting tax-exempt interest for all newly issued municipal bonds (securities).
  • Federal Student Aid Programs. Federal student aid programs have already been cut by $4.6 billion in recent deficit-reduction efforts. As Congress continues to grapple with the federal budget deficit, planned across-the-board cuts and other policy changes could further undercut our nation's efforts help keep a college education within reach for students, our country's future workforce.
  • Fostering Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at Colleges and Universities. The pursuit of substantial energy savings and new energy sourcing already happening on college campuses across the country reflects a strong commitment by presidents and business administrators and a mounting community consensus that substantial shifts in campus operations are absolutely essential to maintain a healthy bottom line. NACUBO has identified five specific policy solutions that will enable nonprofit higher education institutions of all sizes and types to reduce energy consumption, increase efficiencies, avoid risks, and improve their long-term financial sustainability.
  • Understanding College Costs. The current state of the economy has elevated the cost of college attendance at many institutions, particularly at public colleges and universities, and access to higher education has become a genuine anxiety for many American families. Colleges and universities have undertaken numerous efforts to contain and cut costs as well as to help students pay for their education. While concerns about college affordability are understandable, there are also a number of misperceptions about rising costs.


Liz Clark

Vice President, Policy and Research


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