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.
Reminder: HEERF Quarterly Reporting Due
The first round of quarterly reporting for CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) aid allotted under Section 18004(a)(2), Section 18004(a)(3), and the institutional share portion of Section 18004(a)(1) is due October 30. The reporting form and further reporting guidance are available on the Department of Education’s HEERF Reporting Requirements webpage.
Labor Issues Formal Request on Race and Sex Stereotyping EO
The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a formal request for information about “workplace trainings that involve race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating” as part of its work to support the president’s recent Executive Order (EO) on “Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping.” DOL also developed several new tools, including FAQs and a reporting hotline. NACUBO is hosting a Telephone Town Hall on October 29 aimed at helping colleges and universities comply with the new order.
DHS Enacts Sizeable OPT Work Permit Revocation
Shortly after announcing a slew of proposed restrictions for international student visas, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it is revoking 700 work permits issued as part of the Optical Practical Training (OPT) program and allowing another 400 to expire without renewal in the next several months. The agency alleges that the implicated permit recipients were working in jobs outside their field of study, which the program does not allow. The program currently allows some international students to stay in the U.S. to work for one to three years after they graduate if they have a job directly related to their field of study, but many higher education advocates worry that this announcement is preceding additional sweeping restrictions on the OPT program.
ED to Begin 2020-21 Reimbursement Process for Perkins Loan Cancellations
The Department of Education recently announced that in addition to the regular distribution of assets process after schools submit their Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate (FISAP) by November 2, ED will notify institutions of the amount of partial reimbursement for Perkins Loan service cancellations they must remove from the fund and return themselves. An institution should not remove and return any funds—to ED or itself—until notified by the agency.
Universities Push Back on H-1B Changes
Six universities, in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other major business associations, have filed suit against the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security, challenging the agencies’ recent announcement of tighter restrictions and eligibility requirements for H-1B skilled foreign worker visas. Separately, nine other higher education institutions, joined primarily by healthcare entities and associations, also filed suit against DOL and DHS to challenge the restrictions. Both groups are requesting preliminary injunctions to halt implementation of the rule changes while the lawsuits proceed.
Judge Considering Halt of Borrower Defense Settlement
A District Court Judge in California is considering halting a settlement agreement between the Department of Education and a class of student loan borrowers who had attempted to file borrower defense to repayment claims against for-profit institutions. The original suit accused ED of ceasing to process any borrower defense claims between June 2018 and December 2019, with requests pending for up to four years. The two parties reached a settlement in May whereby ED agreed to process all remaining claims within a year and a half. Since then, ED has issued near-universal denials of the remaining claims and sent applicants short form letters with no explanation as to why their claims were denied. The latest order calls for ED officials to be deposed by the borrowers’ attorneys to learn more about the widespread denials and to try to ascertain why the denial rate for borrower defense claims is so much higher now than it was under the Obama administration. As part of this review, the order indicates that ED may be temporarily directed to halt all of its claim processing.
Competing Relief Packages Plague COVID-19 Negotiations
Despite indications from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin that they’re closer to reaching a tentative agreement on another COVID-19 relief package, cost concerns among Senate Republicans threaten to derail future deals. While Senate Republicans have proposed their own, smaller, $500 billion package of pandemic relief, it mostly has been a non-starter for congressional Democrats, who have criticized the plan for not providing enough aid. Conversely, while Pelosi and Mnuchin seem to be negotiating a package that will cost between $1.5-2 trillion, Senate Republicans have indicated that they won’t vote for a package that costly. NACUBO continues to advocate with lawmakers for an additional $120 billion in aid for colleges and universities to address the rising costs of pandemic-related expenses and revenue decreases.
Get Out the Vote on Your Campus!
Colleges and universities provide immense value beyond the classroom to their students, communities, and society. Research shows that college graduates are more likely to vote in elections, and regular voting is a habit you can help your students, staff, and community develop now. To that end, NACUBO has compiled a state-by-state resource with voting information for the upcoming November 2020 elections that can be easily shared with your campus community. Each state-specific one-pager details how, when, and where to vote in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Find your state's downloadable PDF on our Advocacy Tools and Resources page.
NACUBO On Your Side: October 13-19, 2020