As things move quickly in Washington, DC, NACUBO is your constant advocate in action. NACUBO On Your Side covers important legislative and agency activity NACUBO staff are tracking, what we’re currently advocating for, and how you can take action with us.
Here are the issues we are tracking and advocating for this week.
ED FSA Announces Virtual Conference
The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) of the Department of Education has announced that its annual conference will be virtual in 2020. Registration is open for the conference, which will be held December 1-4.
R2T4 Updates to COVID-19 Title IV FAQs Now Available
In addition to the Department of Education’s primary guidance page for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the Department also maintains a separate FAQ page specific to Title IV questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. ED recently posted updated guidance about the optional nature of returning funds to the Title IV programs even for students whose withdrawals are related to COVID-19, in light of R2T4 changes made by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
ED to Offer HEERF Reporting Requirements Webinar
Following recent updates to ED’s guidance for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) aid, as well as the announcement of new quarterly HEERF reporting requirements, ED is conducting a free webinar for higher education stakeholders on October 14 to facilitate understanding of the new guidance. NACUBO will be hosting a similar Telephone Town Hall on October 23 to discuss the new HEERF reporting requirements as well as new accounting and legislative updates. (See the Take Action section for registration details.)
DOL, DHS Issue Interim Final Rules on H-1B Visas
The Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have each issued interim final rules instituting significant changes for foreign workers utilizing the H-1B program to work in the U.S. While DOL’s rule will take effect immediately, DHS’ rule will be implemented on December 7. The DHS rule significantly narrows the definition of “specialty occupation,” while DOL’s rule drastically increases wage minimums for visa eligibility by overhauling its methodology for computing prevailing wage levels. DOL has provided an FAQ document to accompany its rule changes. The higher education association community is working together to respond to both rules during a limited public comment period.
On the Hill
House Democrats Oppose Proposed Student Visa Rules
Over 100 Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives have sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calling the agency’s recently proposed rules that would limit the visa length for international students “arbitrar[y]” and “disincentivizing.” International students are “a key part of the higher education ecosystem” who “enrich the higher education experience for all students and provide meaningful contributions to our country,” the letter states. The higher education association community is working together to respond to the proposed rules as well.
Yale Faces Admissions Lawsuit from DOJ
On October 8, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit in a federal district court in Connecticut over Yale University’s consideration of race in enrollment decisions. The suit is the product of a two-year DOJ investigation into Yale’s admissions practices and alleges that White and Asian American students have faced discrimination by the university for decades. While Harvard University and the University of Texas at Austin have faced similar challenges from private advocacy groups, this suit represents the Trump administration’s most meaningful foray into this arena. NACUBO supports institutional efforts to assemble a diverse student body, and the American Council on Education has condemned the new lawsuit as “profoundly disturbing.”
Higher Ed Associations Weigh In on Race and Sex Stereotyping EO
In response to one of the president’s recent executive orders (EO) on “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping,” the higher education association community has sent a letter to the White House expressing serious concerns about the EO’s “timing, content, and discordant tone.” The order, which is applicable to all federal contractors and grant recipients, dictates what training materials are permissible for all applicable entities and prohibits acknowledgments in workplace trainings that “the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist” or that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” among other items.
NACUBO Praises Legislation to Make 179D Permanent
The Coalition for Energy Efficient Jobs & Investment, a broad group of stakeholders in energy efficient construction, sent a letter to Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) in support of legislation he introduced that would make the Section 179D energy efficient commercial buildings deduction permanent. As a member of the coalition, NACUBO continues to support efforts to extend or make permanent 179D and to make the deduction available to nonprofit institutions.
Register for NACUBO’s Next Telephone Town Hall
Eager to hear more from NACUBO’s policy team? Join us Friday, October 23 at 2 pm ET for our next Telephone Town Hall. You can register in advance here.
NACUBO On Your Side: September 29-October 5, 2020