Collaborating with other national higher education associations and coalitions, NACUBO recently conveyed its concerns about several issues currently under scrutiny and being debated by the U.S. Congress. You can find the following letters to congressional leaders, plus other letters and statements, on NACUBO’s Legislation and Advocacy web site.
Expiring Tax Provisions
As previously reported by NACUBO, Congress is contemplating how to address tax provisions that will expire at the end of this year, as well as those that expired on December 31, 2011. The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures solicited testimony for the record following an April 26 hearing on certain expiring tax provisions.
A statement from the American Council on Education, undersigned by NACUBO and 12 other higher education associations, stated, “We strongly support extending the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), the above-the-line deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses (tuition deduction), the Employer-provided Educational Assistance (Sec. 127) benefits, the expanded Student Loan Interest Deduction (SLID), and the expanded Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). Each of these provisions helps make higher education accessible for millions of Americans and ensure that our nation will have the educated citizenry the future requires. We also strongly support extending the Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Charitable Rollover, a provision that has generated new and increased private support to colleges and universities since its inception in 2006.”
Bank Qualified Debt Limit
The Senate Highway Investment, Job Creation and Economic Growth Act of 2012 increases the “bank qualified” debt limit to $30 million annually and applies the limit on a borrower-by-borrower basis (the latter so that issuers can assist small governmental and nonprofit borrowers). House and Senate conferees are currently hammering out the differences between the Senate and House versions of the legislation. NACUBO supports the Senate provision and recently joined a number of other national associations and organizations in a letter advocating for including this provision in the final conference agreement.
Government Employee Travel Restrictions
On April 25, in amendments to two separate bills, the House and Senate severely restricted government employees’ ability to attend meetings and conferences. These amendments were included in the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act, (H.R. 2146) in the House and the 21st Century Postal Service Act (S. 1789) in the Senate. While aiming to induce greater transparency and accountability in government spending, the amendments limit spending on government-sponsored conferences and travel expenses for federal employees and, ultimately, government employees’ participation in non-governmental meetings and conferences.
Hundreds of national organizations have weighed in on the issue. NACUBO joined the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and four other higher education associations in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell and a separate letter to House Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi, urging them to alter the language that would impede the U.S. Department of Education (ED) from offering training to staff in colleges and universities across the country. The letters state, “We support efforts to create greater transparency and accountability in government spending; however, we believe the construction of the current language could have serious unintended harmful effects on ED’s ability to train and update those in the student aid profession who administer more than $160 billion in federal student aid to more than 16 million students each year.”
Stafford Loan Interest Rate Scheduled to Double
“Education has never been as important to America’s economic health as it is now. That is why we are encouraged by the proposals we have seen. The administration and both parties have expressed their strong support for keeping the interest rate at 3.4 percent without cutting other forms of student aid. We urge Congress to continue their work and produce a final bill with bipartisan support,” states a letter from dozens of higher education associations, including NACUBO, sent to Congress.
On July 1, Stafford Loan interest rates will rise to 6.8% if Congress does not agree to avert the scheduled increase. However, Democrats and Republicans have not yet agreed on how to cover the $6 billion cost of the one-year extension. A Senate Democratic bill would cover the cost by eliminating a tax preference for certain corporations; Republicans in the Senate back the House-passed bill that would eliminate funding for a preventive health fund created by the Accountable Care Act.