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 Reminds Financial Aid Offices of Professional Judgment Authority
On January 29, the Department of Education published a Dear Colleague Letter reminding financial aid administrators of their ability to exercise documented professional judgment when determining eligibility of students for federal student aid and encouraged aid administrators to consider the special circumstances that may arise for students and families during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially as they relate to unemployment or reduction in work.
DHS Delays Changes to H-1B Lottery
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it is delaying proposed changes to the H-1B lottery system wherein the lottery would be eliminated in favor of a system that prioritizes visas based on applicants’ earnings. DHS’ stated reason for the delay is that it would “not have adequate time to complete system development, thoroughly test the modifications, train staff, and conduct public outreach needed to ensure an effective and orderly implementation,” but the notice also mentions that the agency will continue to “evaluate the… rule and its associated policies, as is typical of agencies at the beginning of a new Administration.” NACUBO has consistently opposed the Trump administration’s proposed changes to the existing lottery system and has encouraged the Biden administration to rescind them before implementation.
NACUBO Endorses Legislation to Support Telehealth
NACUBO has endorsed the Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment (TREAT) Act, which was recently introduced by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) in the Senate and Reps. Bob Latta (R-OH) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) in the House. If enacted, the bill would create temporary reciprocity in the licensing of physical and mental health professionals to enable them to practice across state lines during the pandemic. Importantly, the legislation would enable students across the country to continue connecting with campus health services, even while campus closures persist due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NACUBO Endorses Public Tax Credit Legislation
NACUBO has endorsed the Supporting State and Local Leaders Act, which was recently introduced by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL), John Katko (R-NY), and Diana DeGette (D-CO) in the House and Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) in the Senate. The bill would remove the exclusion in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that prevented public entities from utilizing tax credits associated with a requirement to provide expanded paid sick and family leave, and it would ensure their eligibility for the credit if they continue to offer the expanded leave in the future.
NACUBO Calls for DHS Support of International Students
NACUBO joined with other members of the higher education association community, in a letter led by the American Council on Education, to congratulate Alejandro Mayorkas on his recent confirmation as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The letter also lists ways Mayorkas can better support international students, including making clear that the Optional Practical Training program will stay in place, restoring the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Committee, ensuring that DHS officials at ports of entry are properly instructed to follow official DHS guidance allowing international students to enter the United States, and coordinating with the Department of State to guarantee efficient processing of visas and work authorizations for international students, among other items.
Higher Ed Urges Partnership with New Administration
NACUBO has joined nearly 40 other higher education associations in reaching out to the White House to urge President Joe Biden to utilize the expertise of the higher education community as the administration continues to develop its COVID-19 response. The letter identifies a number of areas where we could work together, including virus testing and tracing, addressing campus mental health needs, and supporting vaccination efforts, among others.
Connect with NACUBO’s Policy Team
Join NACUBO’s policy experts Friday, February 12 at 1 pm ET for updates on the latest COVID-19 relief aid for higher education in Section 314 (a)(1) of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) and on the accompanying guidance provided by the Department of Education. Speakers also will discuss changes made to the Post 9/11 GI Bill by recently passed legislation. Register in advance here.
NACUBO On Your Side: January 26-February 1, 2021