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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.

Agency Action

ED to Investigate Admissions Scandal
The Department of Education has launched an investigation into eight universities implicated in the admissions and bribery scandal that came to light earlier this month. In letters sent to the presidents of the universities under investigation, investigators cited potential noncompliance with laws relating to a university’s capacity to administer federal aid and their obligation to alert ED if they have knowledge of employee fraud. ED noted that universities could face a range of penalties that, at their harshest, include loss of access to federal student loans and grants.

Administrative Action

White House Proposes Reforms to College Accreditation and Accountability 
The Trump administration last week outlined its Higher Education Act reauthorization priorities, urging Congress to make or change laws impacting accreditation, Pell Grants, student loan repayment, risk-sharing, and more.

Trump Executive Order Presses Colleges to Enforce Free Speech, Calls for New Reporting
President Donald Trump’s March 20 executive order directs the federal government to enforce existing free speech rules related to receipt of federal research grants, calls for program-level data sharing on the College Scorecard, and tasks the Department of Education with creating risk-sharing proposals for institutions that participate in the federal student loan programs. 


Public Finance Network Encourages Restoration of Tax-Exempt Bonds
The Public Finance Network, a group of organizations including NACUBO that are devoted to the protection and expansion of tax-exempt financing mechanisms, recently provided comments to the House Committee on Ways and Means. Among other requests, the network asked for the reinstatement of advance refund tax-exempt municipal bonds and an allowance for additional bond programs to fund infrastructure projects. The letter also reminds lawmakers of the vital role tax-exempt bonds play in financing capital projects.

Student Aid Alliance Submits FY20 Funding Requests
The Student Aid Alliance, a coalition of higher education organizations including NACUBO in support of federal student aid, submitted a comprehensive list of FY20 student aid funding requests to House and Senate appropriators. In addition to asking for increased funding for student aid and student services programs, the alliance asked that statutory budget caps for FY20 and FY21 be increased to avoid cuts to nondefense discretionary spending.

Higher Ed Weighs In on Latest DACA Legislation
In a letter to House of Representatives and House Judiciary Committee leadership, 38 higher education associations, including NACUBO, wrote in support of the Dream and Promise Act of 2019. The letter, led by the American Council on Education, praised the legislation for creating a path to lawful permanent residence and eventual citizenship status for individuals brought to the U.S. illegally as children (“Dreamers”) who meet certain criteria laid out in the bill. The bill would also restore the ability of states to grant in-state tuition to undocumented students on the basis of residency at the states’ discretion, and would allow Dreamers to access Title IV federal student aid programs .

Take Action

On-Campus Advocacy Takes Different Forms—What Works for You?
In our Value of Higher Education toolkit, two universities share the quality advocacy work of their federal relations teams. Take a look at these on-campus advocacy one-pagers to learn about how Emory University and the University of Arizona build relationships between their campus communities and congressional delegations.

Previous Edition
What Did I Miss in Washington? March 5-18, 2019


Liz Clark

Vice President, Policy and Research


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