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
More Infrastructure Updates as Debate Continues
House lawmakers have shared text of further changes to the Build Back Better Act, even as its future in the Senate remains unclear. The House’s latest package contains additional changes to provisions of importance for higher education.
Community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and minority-serving institutions have retained high levels of support in the current bill, including additional aid for research and development, infrastructure needs, workforce development grants, and other direct institutional aid. A $550 boost to the maximum Pell Grant award also remains in this package, as does the elimination of Pell Grant taxability. The Title IV aid eligibility expansion to allow DACA recipients to access federal student aid for the first time also remains, although many other immigration provisions, including new pathways to citizenship, have been significantly reduced.
A proposed federal-state partnership to provide free community college remains cut from the plan, as does a return of advance refunding for tax-exempts bonds, and the creation of a direct-pay bond program. Unfortunately, the adjustment to net investment income excise tax liability based on financial aid provided by the institution has also been removed in this version of the bill. Provisions remain that alter the American Opportunity Tax Credit to allow individuals with felony drug convictions to make use of the credit, as well as the creation of a new research infrastructure credit for public universities.
While the latest version of the bill seems likely to pass in the House, many provisions and cost calculations are still being debated in the Senate. Because of ongoing debate, the provisions contained in this latest version of the package may still be modified before its final passage. Congress has separately passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, that does not contain higher education provisions.
ED Updates Guidance on Financial Aid Letters
On October 28, the Department of Education (ED) updated its guidance to institutions about what they should include and avoid when issuing financial aid offers to students. ED believes the updated recommendations will make financial aid offers more clear, transparent, and understandable for students and families.
VA Publishes Updated SCO Handbook
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) updated its School Certifying Official (SCO) Handbook on October 29. The handbook, one of VA’s resources for schools, is designed for SCOs and other institutional staff involved with certification of beneficiaries of VA education benefits. The updated version of the SCO Handbook addresses recent changes to the 85/15 Rule and 35 Percent Exemption.
NACUBO Again Calls for Telehealth Licensure Flexibilities
NACUBO and over 200 other associations, corporations, and higher education institutions have sent letters to governors in all 50 states, requesting that they maintain or expand licensure flexibilities for healthcare professionals across state lines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This flexibility allows individuals to receive telehealth services from a broad array of providers. Importantly for college and university students and employees, it allows access to campus telehealth services even if campus closures or pandemic safety measures necessitate a return to home states other than where their institutions are located.
NACUBO, Associations Request Flexibility for Afghan Students and Scholars
NACUBO has joined other higher education associations in a letter to the State Department, requesting flexibility for Afghan students and scholars who have fled their home country and are currently applying for F-1 and J-1 visas to travel to the U.S. to study or work in academic positions. Many of these individuals are currently being denied visas because, due to their displaced status, they are unable to demonstrate the required “non-immigrant intent” for these visas, which stipulates an intent to return to an individual’s home country after their period of work or study ends. The letter also requests that the State Department prioritize these applications for review, as many of these individuals are unable to get appointments at U.S. consulates outside of Afghanistan.
NACUBO Town Hall on Federal Vaccination Requirements
Join NACUBO's policy team from 11:30-12pm ET on Wednesday, November 10, for an update on federal COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Learn more and register here.
NACUBO On Your Side, October 26–November