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 concerns.
On the Hill
House Committee Approves TRIA
The House Financial Services Committee unanimously voted to approve a seven-year reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. NACUBO had sent a letter as a member of the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism urging the committee to pass the bill.
NCAA and Congress Weigh In on Athlete Pay
Amid legislative efforts in a number of states to allow college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Board of Governors has voted unanimously to allow student athletes to enter into such contracts. In response, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) announced plans to introduce legislation that would treat as taxable income the scholarships awarded to athletes who choose to be paid for their name, image, and likeness. Currently, scholarships are exempt from treatment as taxable income under Section 117 of the tax code.
Alexander Introduces Standalone FAFSA Simplification
Building on ideas from his recent suite of higher education bills, known collectively as the Student Aid Improvement Act, Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has introduced a standalone piece of legislation that aims to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The bill would reduce the number of questions on the FAFSA from 108 to about 18-30 and is in line with similar FAFSA simplification efforts contained in the House Democrats’ College Affordability Act.
Democrats' Higher Education Bill Advances
The bill that would reauthorize the Higher Education Act passed in a House committee. The committee chair hopes the full House of Representatives can pass the bill by the end of 2019.
ED Launches Payment Card Pilot Program
The Department of Education has chosen four universities and several financial services companies to participate in a pilot program to test a new way for students to receive federal student aid. The Trump administration has promoted the program as a better, but optional, way for students to access their aid on debit-like payment cards, without the fees associated with traditional banking accounts. Participation is optional for students at the pilot institutions and the schools involved confirmed they will neither endorse nor prohibit participation in the program.
Opportunity Zone Website Live
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has created a new website dedicated to information and resources on opportunity zones. Opportunity zones were created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and are intended to encourage economic development and job creation in distressed and low-income communities by providing tax benefits to investors who put eligible capital into these areas. Many opportunity zones fall adjacent to college and university campuses, and some higher education institutions are considering the potential for their own institutional investments in these communities.
ED Publishes Final Accreditation Rules
ED has published new rules in the Federal Register covering accreditation and state authorization for distance education. The rules are a product of a negotiated rulemaking process that reached consensus earlier this year and were published in time for July 2020 implementation. Some of the changes are intended to grant accreditors and institutions flexibility to offer new programs and to employ innovative practices.
NACUBO Advocates for Increase to Section 127 Limit
NACUBO, as part of the Coalition to Preserve Employer Provided Education Assistance, recently submitted a letter thanking Reps. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Jason Smith (R-MO) for their leadership on H.R. 4849. The proposed legislation would increase the allowable amount under Section 127, the employer-provided benefit that presently allows an employee to exclude from income up to $5,250 per year in educational assistance. H.R. 4849 would increase the allowable limit to $11,500 and index it to inflation.
Subscribe to NACUBO’s New Newsletter
NACUBO recently launched a new quarterly newsletter to connect campus financial, environmental, sustainability, and efficiency efforts to state, national, and global trends. Email email@example.com to subscribe and read the inaugural edition here.
What Did I Miss in Washington? October 8-21, 2019