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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.

On the Hill

Higher Ed Tax Priorities Advance in Infrastructure Package

Portions of the next draft infrastructure package were released last week, with proposals for many of the priorities NACUBO has advocated for over the last year. It could be weeks before the House, Senate, and White House are able to agree on a final deal, which may differ from the current draft. As of now, important tax priorities such as a return of advance refunding for tax-exempt bonds and the reinstatement of the Build America direct pay bond program are in the package, as are much-needed updates to the Section 179D energy efficiency tax credit, including an expansion of the credit to private nonprofit institutions.

The proposal also would eliminate the taxability of Pell Grants and solve a tax code glitch that prevents many Pell Grant recipients from receiving the full benefits of the American Opportunity Tax Credit—priorities raised by NACUBO President Susan Whealler Johnston at a recent Capitol Hill hearing. For another advocacy effort, the net investment income tax, adjustments are proposed that would alter an institution’s tax liability based on financial aid provided by the institution. 

The draft also includes proposals for increased funding for HBCUs and other institutions, a state/federal partnership to make community college tuition free, access to federal student aid for DACA recipients, and more. NACUBO will continue working to ensure that the final package contains improvements for higher education institutions and their students.

Agency Action

IRS Holding Public Hearing on E-Filing
The IRS announced it will hold a public hearing on September 22 addressing proposed regulations that expand mandatory electronic filing of tax returns, including unrelated business income tax returns, withholding tax returns, certain information returns, disclosure statements, notifications, and certain excise tax returns. Those wishing to speak at the hearing must submit an email requesting to testify (specific instructions can be found in the announcement) as well as an outline of the topics to be discussed to the IRS by Tuesday, September 21. Outline submissions must be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

Administration Action

White House Announces New HBCU Initiative
The White House has announced a new initiative designed to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and “advance equity in economic and educational opportunities for all Americans.” The initiative will create a team at the Department of Education to manage day-to-day operations, advise the president on related issues, work to advance legislation to strengthen HBCUs, and reduce barriers to  other federal grants and programs. Dr. Tony Allen, president of Delaware State University, has been appointed to serve as the chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs.


NACUBO Calls for More Pell Funding in Infrastructure Package
As congressional debate over two sizeable infrastructure packages continues, NACUBO has joined with other higher education associations in urging Congress to include more funding for Pell Grant increases. Initial numbers from the House Education and Labor Committee indicate proposed grant increases of $500 for the maximum award, well below President Joe Biden’s suggested increase of $1,475 and significantly less than double, which NACUBO has consistently called for. The letter highlights that doubling the Pell Grant is a “foremost priority of the higher education community” and urges Congress to work with higher education associations to “increase the Pell Grant maximum award in any final measure.”   

NACUBO, Associations Urge Senate to Fix VA’s “Rounding Out” Policy
NACUBO and several other organizations joined with the Student Veterans of America in a letter to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs requesting a legislative fix to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) “rounding out” policy. This policy allows a student veteran in their final term to enroll in additional courses, which typically would not be eligible for GI Bill funding, to raise their enrollment status to full time and preserve their monthly housing allowance. As of August 1, the VA has restricted those courses to only those related to a veteran’s degree program. The letter requests a return to the VA’s previous policy, which permitted “rounding out” courses to include those previously taken as well as those unrelated to a veteran’s program.

NACUBO Again Endorses Kvaal Nomination
After several months’ delay, the Senate is set to vote on the nomination of James Kvaal for undersecretary of education, the primary overseer of the department’s postsecondary education programs. NACUBO has joined other higher education associations in a letter to Senate leadership, expressing support for Kvaal’s confirmation. Kvaal currently serves as the president of The Institute for College Access and Success and was the deputy undersecretary of education during the Obama administration. 

Previous Edition

NACUBO On Your Side: August 17-September 7, 2021

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