Copy
This message was prepared by Lewis-Burke Associates LLC. View this email in your browser

Higher Education Policy Newsletter

January 6, 2020 — Lewis-Burke Associates LLC

A VIEW FROM WASHINGTON

Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Trump Administration face a host of higher education issues heading into 2020.  Despite the passage of a bill reauthorizing some minority-serving institutions grant programs and making changes to the FAFSA and verification process, leaders of the U.S. House and Senate education committees are eager to reach an agreement on a broader HEA reauthorization bill this Congress.  Although the House of Representatives is likely to pass its HEA reauthorization bill this year, it remains to be seen if any deal reached in the Senate will be acceptable to House Democrats seeking large increases in student aid funding and major policy overhauls.  Discussions regarding Title IX are likely to be highly partisan, with many Democrats seeking more stringent regulations on universities’ reporting and responses to sexual harassment on campus.   

Of interest to institutions of higher education, changes to the college athletics landscape may also become an area of increasing federal interest. With states moving to legalize gambling on collegiate athletics and address name, image, and likeness compensation for student athletes, the federal government may seek to create legislative or regulatory frameworks that increase oversight of collegiate sports.

Immigration issues will continue as a focal issue in 2020, with the Supreme Court expected to issue its ruling on the legal challenge to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program this year.  A decision from the Supreme Court may spur Congress to act.  Congress has largely held off from considering changes to or expansion of the DACA program while the case works its way through the courts.  The Trump Administration is likely to continue exercising administrative authority impacting international students and faculty.  

In addition to the HEA, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is up for reauthorization in 2020.  As the main legislation authorizing workforce development and employment programs, the authorizing committees will likely look at the role of higher education in workforce development, apprenticeships and cooperative education, skills training, short-term credentialing programs, and other areas designed to prepare students and employees for the future of work. 

These conversations will also overlap with the 2020 presidential election.  Free college proposals and major student loan forgiveness plans have already dominated the Democratic presidential primary, and we will begin to see legislation introduced in Congress by the candidates or their allies that reflect these ideas.  As the general election nears, the Trump Administration may also roll out more limited college affordability plans to counter Democratic proposals. 

IN THIS ISSUE

CONGRESSIONAL UPDATES AND NEWS
FY 2020 Appropriations Finalized with Increases to Student Aid Programs 

Congress Extends MSI Funding; HEA Outlook Remains Uncertain 

House Hearing Discusses Potential Solutions to Job Displacement and Automation 

Legislative Bills of Note 

ADMINISTRATION AND AGENCY UPDATES AND NEWS
Executive Order on Anti-Semitism and Experimental Sites Update

ED Continues Push to Expand Foreign Gift Reporting  

ED Proposes Rule on TEACH Grants and Aid for Faith-Based Institutions 

MSI Designation and Developing HSI Funding Opportunity Open

Open Grant Competitions at ED  

New DOD STEM Education Funding Opportunity 

2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Bernie Sanders Announces Plan to Support Historically Black Colleges and Universities  

FACTS AND FIGURES
Enrollment in Grad School Increases 

WHAT WE'RE READING
Institute of Education Sciences Update: "From Director Schneider: Update on Topic Areas and Upcoming RFAs" 

 

CONGRESSIONAL UPDATES AND NEWS 

FY 2020 Appropriations Finalized with Increases to Student Aid Programs
Before a December 20, 2019 deadline, Congress passed and the President signed into law two appropriations packages that fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2020, avoiding a government shutdown.  The final spending packages included increases to student aid funding and other programs of importance to the higher education community.  The law increases the maximum individual Pell Grant award to $6,345, an increase of $150 over the FY 2019 level.  The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG) program was provided a $25 million increase for a total of $865 million in FY 2020, and the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program received a $50 million increase for a total of $1.2 billion in FY 2020.  Grant programs for Minority Serving-Institutions (MSIs), the TRIO and GEAR UP programs, the Title VI foreign language and training programs, the Teacher Quality Partnerships program, and other higher education programs received funding increases as well.  Notably, the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program was flat funded at $23 million.  On the research front, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) received $623.5 million, $8 million higher than the FY 2019 enacted level. 

Other funding provided by the bill will go to the Centers of Excellence for Veterans Student Success Program, which has not operated in several years; the Open Textbooks pilot grant program; and a “Career Pathway” grant program “to expand and improve career pathways opportunities for students beginning in high school,” such as evidence-based career exploration systems.  Congress also directed the Department to address the administration of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, guidance on "Ability to Benefit," and student loan servicing.  The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is further directed to address simplification of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as it relates to data sharing between the Department and the Internal Revenue Service and to provide improvements to the "Return to Title IV" progress.  

Of note, the law calls on ED to engage with institutions to address confusion on the foreign gift reporting requirements found in Section 117 of the Higher Education Act.  An explanatory statement further states that as ED provides guidance on reporting modifications, institutions “should be given adequate time to ensure proper reporting.” 

Also included within the final FY 2020 spending package were several tax provisions of interest to higher education.  The non-profit “parking tax” would be repealed which was created by the 2017 tax law and treated tax-exempt employer provided parking and transportation benefits as unrelated business income.  The 2017 tax law's "kiddie tax" would also be repealed, protecting students from that law’s increase in tax rates for taxable scholarships.  Finally, the package includes the retroactive reinstatement and extension of the above-the-line tuition deduction. 

Sources and Additional Information: 

Congress Extends MSI Funding; HEA Outlook Remains Uncertain 

On December 19, 2019, President Trump signed into law H.R. 5365,  the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act, which reauthorizes the Higher Education Act’s (HEA) Title III, Part F programs permanently at the current level of $225 million per year. The Title III, Part F programs, whose funding had expired at the end of fiscal year (FY) 2019, provide institutional aid from the U.S. Department of Education to historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and other minority-serving institutions (MSI), including the Hispanic-Serving Institution STEM grant program. 

Prior to passage, the U.S. Senate amended the FUTURE Act to include the Faster Access to Federal Student Aid Act of 2018, a bill from the previous Congress that would require the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to disclose certain tax information to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for the purposes of more easily verifying students’ income and eligibility for federal student financial aid.  According to Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), this change would allow for the elimination of 22 questions from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), one of his long-time top priorities. 

Several reports have indicated that the success of the FUTURE Act had restarted talks between Chairman Alexander and Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) on a bipartisan HEA reauthorization bill.  Although the two sides had been working on a reauthorization earlier in 2019, negotiations had stalled over issues related to Title IX sexual harassment and student aid issues.  It remains to be seen if the Senate will be able to put together a bill that would earn the support of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, who support a comprehensive HEA reauthorization.  According to a recent estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the House’s HEA reauthorization bill, H.R. 4674, the College Affordability Act, would raise spending by more than $330 billion over the next ten years.  

Sources and Additional Information: 

House Hearing Discusses Potential Solutions to Job Displacement and Automation 

On December 18, the U.S. House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment held a hearing on “The Future of Work: Ensuring Workers are Competitive in a Rapidly Changing Economy.”  Despite the hearing being held while the House was preparing to vote on Articles of Impeachment, members on both sides of the aisle showed up for a bipartisan dialogue on ways to better ensure that workers and the American economy are prepared for job displacement due to automation, global trade, and climate change.  Subcommittee Chairwoman Susan Davis (D-CA) criticized the current, “patchwork” workforce development system supported by the federal government, and advocated for a more comprehensive system that serves all dislocated workers.  Subcommittee Ranking Member Lloyd Smucker (R-PA) expressed that skills-based education could help address the skills and employment gap and voiced his support for expanding work-based education opportunities, such as cooperative education and apprenticeships. 

Seth Harris, Former Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor and one of the hearing witnesses, further advocated for increasing the number of apprenticeships, fully funding workforce programs under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), expanding Pell Grant eligibility to non-degree credential programs, and increasing data reporting requirements around cost and outcomes for degrees and other credentials, among other recommendations. Other topics discussed at the hearing included strengthening unions, funding the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program, reforming WIOA workforce development boards, and better incentivizing businesses to invest in workforce training.  

Sources and Additional Information: 

Legislative Bills of Note 

  • H.R. 3804 (Rep. Frankel, D-FL)/S. 2083 (Senator Feinstein, D-CA) - Athletics Fair Pay Act of 2019.  This bill would ensure pay equity for amateur athletes.  

  • H.R. 5294 (Rep. Adams, D-NC) - Student Borrower Protections Act of 2019.  This bill would amend the Truth in Lending Act to establish a postsecondary education loan borrower bill of rights and to require certain creditors to obtain private loan certifications from institutions of higher education. It would also amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to require the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to issue rules to establish standards for reporting information related to student loans to consumer reporting agencies. 

  • S.3040 (Sen. Rosen, D-NV) - Teacher Education for Computer Science Act.  This bill would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to include teacher preparation for computer science in elementary and secondary education. 

  • S.3011 (Sen. Murray, D, WA)- Affordable Housing for Educational Achievement Demonstration Act.  This bill would authorize demonstration projects to improve educational and housing outcomes for children.  

ADMINISTRATION AND AGENCY UPDATES AND NEWS

Executive Order on Anti-Semitism and Experimental Sites Updates 

In December 2019, President Trump signed an Executive Order addressing anti-Semitism.  The order states that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to anti-Semitic discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.  Violations of Title VI can lead to a loss of federal funding.  The order would also allow the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and other federal agencies to consider adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism.   

As previously reported, ED continues to make progress on announcing an Experimental Site Initiative (ESI) for income-share agreements (ISAs).  Under an ESI, ED can waive certain federal student aid rules.  A potential ISA experiment would allow institutions to limit student borrowing on an individual basis and permit institutions to repay a loan on behalf of their students.  A formal announcement will be forthcoming in the Federal Register inviting letters of interest.  ED also announced the end of the several existing ESIs including the Competency-Based Education and Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP).   

 Sources and Additional Information: 

ED Continues Push to Expand Foreign Gift Reporting  

In September 2019, the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) proposed a controversial and dramatically expanded revision to foreign gift and contracting reporting requirements of institutions.  ED moved forward in December sending its final, and somewhat less expansive, foreign gift reporting proposal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval.  ED requested an emergency approval by OMB to have the new collection requirements set for the next institutional reporting deadline of January 31.   

On December 23, ED announced a new electronic reporting system will be available, but not yet required for January 31 deadline, for institutions to use along with the expanded reporting requirements, if the changes are approved by OMB.  

Members of Congress have acknowledged strong concerns with the overreach from ED on reporting and included language in the final fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bill for ED stating that the Department should consult with stakeholders and offer institutions adequate time to adjust to new requirements.  It is unlikely that will have much impact on ED’s interest in rushing through changes to the reporting system. 

Sources and Additional Information:

ED Proposes Rule on TEACH Grants and Aid for Faith-Based Institutions

In December 2019, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) proposed revising the current regulations regarding the eligibility of faith-based institutions to participate in Title IV federal aid programs.  The rule would allow members of religious orders, who also are pursuing courses of study to participate in Title IV programs and would increase access to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program for individuals who work for employers that engage in religious instruction, among other changes.  Additionally, the rule proposes to simplify the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program requirements.  A press release accompanying the proposed rule notes, "The proposed regulations on TEACH Grants include important changes that will eliminate burdensome certification and annual reporting requirements... create opportunities and processes for resolving grants that were incorrectly converted to loans... expand access to TEACH Grants to elementary school educators who teach in high-need areas."  The deadline for submitting comments on the proposed rule is January 10, 2020. 

Sources and Additional Information: 

MSI Designation and Developing HSI Funding Opportunity Open 

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has published the notice of eligibility designation and the application for eligibility waivers for minority-serving institutions (MSI) programs under Title III and Title V of the Higher Education Act.  Only designated institutions of higher education (IHEs) will be eligible to apply for programs such as the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) program, the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) program, and others.  IHEs not automatically designated as eligible can apply for an eligibility waiver or reconsideration.  This designation is an annual determination by ED.  

In late December, ED released its notice for the FY2020 competition for the Developing HSI program, which has a February 10 deadline.  Further details can be found at https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=323281

Sources and Additional Information:

Open Grant Competitions at ED 

In addition to the Developing HSI program, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has the following currently open grant competitions of note: 

New DOD STEM Education Funding Opportunity 

The Department of Defense (DOD) released its fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Education Program (NDEP) funding opportunity for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, outreach, and workforce initiative programs.  The funding opportunity explicitly “encourages projects that improve the capacity of education systems and communities to create impactful STEM educational experiences for students and teachers, and prepare the 21st-century technical workforce.”  Proposed programs should align with the most recent federal STEM strategy, which calls for DOD to make “significant investments in science and technology modernization priority areas to meet key capability and capacity needs” and further cultivate our nation’s STEM talent pool.  In particular, the funding opportunity states specific challenges the Department seeks solutions to including: 

  • “Address geographic disparities and broaden participation for underrepresented and underserved communities; 

  • Target military-connected students (dependents from preschool through college of an active Military Service member) and provide this unique population with the resources and encouragement to pursue careers in STEM; 

  • Consider early academic education activities from pre-kindergarten through middle school to generate introductory awareness in STEM subjects and supplement understanding of foundational concepts in STEM; 

  • Build STEM skills and literacy in an evidence-based and innovative manner; 

  • Utilize project-based learning opportunities such as STEM challenges, science fairs, and competitions; 

  • Foster family and community support systems to encourage STEM learning and understanding; 

  • Increase awareness of DOD science and technology priorities such as artificial intelligence/machine learning, biotechnology, and cyber to prepare for careers in national security and DOD science and technologies.” 

 
DOD anticipates making multiple awards up to $3 million for a period of up to three years.  Applications for higher amounts may be considered on a case-by-case basis.  Applications are due no later than February 24, 2020 at 11:59 PM ET.  Questions about the application are due by January 16, 2020. 

Sources and Additional Information:


2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Bernie Sanders Announces Plan to Support Historically Black Colleges and Universities  

Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently released a plan to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSI).  The key points of his plan include making all public and private HBCUs, tribal colleges, and many MSIs tuition-free; investing $10 billion to create and expand HBCU medical, dental, and teacher training graduate programs; investing $5 billion in HBCU infrastructure grants and canceling all institutional HBCU loan debt from the Capital Financing Program.  Additionally, the plan would support doubling Title III and Title V funds to decrease the funding gap between HBCUs and MSIs and predominately white institutions; and issuing an Executive Order to strengthen the White House Initiative on HBCUs to eliminate racial disparities within the higher education system. 

Sources and Additional Information: 


FACTS AND FIGURES

Enrollment in Graduate School Increases

"Despite an overall decline in school enrollment, the number of people enrolled in graduate and professional school in the United States jumped 8.1% from 2011 to 2018." 

Sources and Additional Information:


WHAT WE'RE READING

Institute of Education Sciences Update: "From Director Schneider: Update on Topic Areas and Upcoming RFAs" 

"I understand that we are making research plans more complicated and expensive to execute.  We are likely therefore to increase the size of grants. Depending on appropriations, that may mean we award fewer grants... IES RFAs will require a clear plan for moving development projects and products into more rigorous trials and for scaling up and/or commercialization.  This plan will be a bigger part of the review process and incorporated into any judgment regarding merit.  This change will make our development grants look more like our highly successful SBIR program, with the obvious difference that organizations other than small businesses can apply." 

Sources and Additional Information:

Copyright © 2020 Lewis-Burke Associates LLC, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Lewis-Burke Associates LLC
440 1st Street Northwest, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20001

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.






This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Lewis-Burke Associates LLC · 440 1st Street NW · Suite 700 · Washington, DC 20001 · USA

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp