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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.

Judicial Action

SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments in UNC and Harvard Admissions Case
On October 31, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) heard testimony in a case brought by the advocacy organization Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) that challenges the practice of considering race in college admissions. The case alleges that admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Some justices expressed concerns with the terminology used in the admissions policies. In particular, a few of the justices questioned the meaning of the terms "diversity" and "underrepresented minority" when applied to race-related admission scenarios. Some debated the implications of rescinding these policies, and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson noted that institutions are permitted to evaluate applicants based on many factors, such as whether they are a veteran, have a disability, or are a parent.

NACUBO has defended Harvard University’s practice of considering race in admissions in amicus briefs submitted to the First Circuit Court of Appeals and SCOTUS. We expect a final ruling in Spring 2023.

Association Action

NASFAA Develops FAFSA Simplification Checklist
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) has recently added a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) simplification implementation checklist to its list of resources related to upcoming FAFSA changes that will be effective in award year 2024-25.

Advocacy

NACUBO Advocates for Public Institutions in Response to IRS Information Request
The Inflation Reduction Act included several green energy tax credits important to some higher education institutions as well as a new direct pay option that allows public and tax-exempt entities to easily monetize the credits. However, the legislation is ambiguous about whether certain public universities—those classified as government instrumentalities—are eligible to elect direct pay. Responding to a request for comments, NACUBO and eight other higher education associations requested that the IRS clarify that instrumentalities of states are eligible.

Higher Education Community Requests Fix for Pell Grant, AOTC Interaction
In a letter to the House and Senate tax writing committees, NACUBO and other members of the higher education community encouraged legislators to incorporate the Tax-Free Pell Grant Act in any lame-duck tax package. The legislation would better coordinate Pell Grants with the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) to prevent a situation where a student may qualify for the AOTC but fail to claim it due to the complicated way it interacts with the tax treatment of the Pell Grant.

Higher Education Community Calls for Legislators to Support Civic Bridge-Building
NACUBO and other members of the higher education community wrote to the House and Senate committees on education, encouraging passage of the bipartisan Building Civic Bridges Act (H.R. 6843, S. 4530) before the end of the current Congress. The legislation would foster civic engagement and expand efforts to preserve democratic values by creating an office of Civic Bridgebuilding. The office would provide competitive grants, train AmeriCorps members in bridge-building skills, and coordinate other bridge-building activities.

NACUBO Comments on IPEDS Finance Survey Report
NACUBO’s comments on an IPEDS Technical Review Panel’s Report on the Purpose of the Finance Survey reinforced several panel conclusions. We also stressed the importance of having finance survey data agree with audited financial statements and of including financial accounting and reporting experts on a working group. NACUBO explained that there are operational, system, chart of account, and sector guidance considerations that must be understood when discussing changes to functional expense definitions that are maintained by NACUBO in the Financial Accounting and Reporting Manual.

Take Action

Join NACUBO for Post-Election Analysis
Join members of NACUBO’s policy team on Friday, November 18, from 2–2:30 pm ET for our next Washington Update. The webcast will focus on what November’s election may mean for higher education and provide insights on the latest regulatory and judicial actions in Washington. You can send questions in advance to advocacy@nacubo.org

Previous Edition

NACUBO On Your Side: October 18–24, 2022

Contact

Neil Gavigan

Policy and Advocacy Manager

202.861.2551


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