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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.

On the Hill

House Appropriators Approve Spending Bill
On May 8, the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill. The bill includes $189.9 billion in discretionary funding and calls for increases to the maximum Pell Grant, the Federal Work-Study program, and others. The measure has an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate and would need to be signed by President Donald Trump in order to take effect October 1. NACUBO signed onto a community letter in support of the legislation.

Senate Committee Considers a Federal Data Privacy Framework
The Senate Commerce Committee held a recent hearing to examine what consumers expect with regard to data privacy in the Digital Age and how those expectations vary based on the organization they’re interacting with. Hearing speakers included representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Future of Privacy Forum, Common Sense Media, and the Republic of Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner. Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) agreed that frequent reports of major data breaches and data misuse have eroded consumer trust, which poses a threat to the digital economy, and that data protection should be more heavily regulated by Congress.

Agency Action

Congressional Budget Office Issues Post-9/11 GI Bill Report
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has issued a new report on the Post-9/11 GI Bill focused on beneficiaries, student veterans’ choices, and cost. The report highlights that hile student veterans choose public institutions more often than any other type of higher education setting, veterans and their spouses are also more likely than other students to choose for-profit programs, which currently represent an outsized share of tuition and fee payments relative to the number of Post-9/11 GI Bill students. The report also discusses the overall cost of the program to the government and its impact on both recruitment and retention within the armed forces.

IRS to Launch Audits of Retirement and Deferred Compensation Plans
The IRS will be rolling out a new round of plan audits this summer, including tax-sheltered annuity and tax-exempt deferred compensation plans, according to Catherine Jones, acting director (employee plans) of the IRS Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Division. The focus of the 403(b) plan audits will be compliance with the universal availability rule, which requires plan participation to be offered to all eligible employees when they are hired. During a May 8 webcast presented by the American Institute of CPAs, Jones noted that section 457 deferred compensation plans would also be spotlighted in upcoming audits. Helpful information about employee plan examinations, including an audit process guide and IRS staff guidelines for conducting audits, is available on the IRS website.

Tomorrow is the First ED Reporting Deadline for Triggering Events
May 14 is the initial deadline for colleges to notify the Department of Education of any financial responsibility actions, events, or conditions occurring between July 1, 2017, and the present that must be reported under the Obama-era borrower defense rules. Significant, ongoing, new reporting rules require institutions to notify the secretary within specified timeframes for these triggering events, such as lawsuits and litigation. Business officers should collaborate with counsel, risk officers, and other administrators to become familiar with the triggers and their potential impact on the institution’s composite score calculation, and establish a campus protocol to monitor and report triggers. A recently updated NACUBO advisory is available here.


NACUBO Lends Support to ENERGY STAR Program
NACUBO has joined in a letter of support for the ENERGY STAR Program sent to congressional appropriators responsible for funding the program. The letter, signed by over 50 industry and nonprofit association advocates, highlights the many successes of the voluntary partnership program, including its ability to help consumers reduce high energy bills, promote economic growth by stimulating investment in new technology, reduce pollution through cost-effective measures, and help to ensure the reliability of electric systems by reducing peak demand.

Take Action

Keep a Finger on the Pulse of Tax Reform
NACUBO’s recent webcast, Pulse Check: Complying with Tax Reform on Campus, is now available on demand. Don’t miss NACUBO’s Mary Bachinger’s discussion of top issues from tax reform with expert practitioners Jodi Kessler of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Joel Levenson of the University of Central Florida. The discussion touches on pressing topics like UBIT basketing and the tax on transportation fringe benefits, as well as excise taxes on executive compensation and net investment income at certain private institutions.

Previous Edition

What Did I Miss in Washington? April 16-29, 2019


Liz Clark

Vice President, Policy and Research


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