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.
ED Updates myStudentAid App Resource
The Department of Education (ED) has released an updated resource to help financial aid administrators respond to frequently asked student questions concerning the 2021-2022 FAFSA feature in the myStudentAid app. ED urges institutions to use the resource for both internal staff trainings and to help in communications with prospective students about college financing and federal student loans. The FAFSA integration into the myStudentAid app is just one of a number of changes and enhancements ED continues to make as it seeks and streamline the entire federal student loan borrower process.
ED Releases Grad Student Financing Tool
Since 2012, the Department of Education (ED) has released a College Financing Plan to help facilitate discussions between institutions and undergraduate students on financial aid and college financing information. This year, with NACUBO’s assistance, ED has also formulated a similar tool aimed at helping graduate and professional students understand the different ways they can pay for a college education. The tool is meant to capture the unique experience and financing tools of advanced students, which often differ from those of undergraduates.
ED Issues Section 117 Notice of Interpretation
The Department of Education (ED) has released a Notification of Interpretation and a request for comments tied to its enforcement authority over foreign gift reporting requirements of the Higher Education Act (HEA). In this interpretation, ED cites HEA Title IV program participation agreements as the source of its authority to enforce Section 117 requirements, and to potentially prohibit institutional participation in Title IV federal student aid programs if it finds an institution to be improperly reporting its foreign gifts and contracts. ED has increasingly criticized colleges and universities over what it alleges is widespread noncompliance of foreign gift reporting requirements. NACUBO and other higher education advocates maintain that ED has been mostly nonresponsive to requests for further reporting guidance and a formal rulemaking process for reporting requirement changes.
NACUBO, Associations Submit Concerns on DOL Changes
NACUBO joined eighteen other higher education associations in submitting comments to the Department of Labor (DOL), in a letter led by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), concerning DOL’s recently issued Interim Final Rule on H-1B visas. The letter expresses concerns with the changes, which significantly raise wage requirements for H-1B visa eligibility to levels that are inconsistent with the impacted professional positions. The letter also highlights that the public was not given any opportunity to weigh in on the changes prior to issuance of the Interim Final Rule. The rule is currently also facing legal challenges, and NACUBO has joined two amicus briefs in support of these challenges.
Higher Ed Community Weighs in with DHS on H-1B Changes
NACUBO, in a community letterled by the American Council on Education, urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to withdraw its recent proposed changes to the H-1B visa program. The changes would significantly narrow the definition of “specialty occupation” for H-1B visa eligibility, among several other new eligibility requirements. Much like similar comments submitted to the Department of Labor, the letter highlights that the public has had very little opportunity to weigh in on these changes despite the sizeable impact it will have on college and university employers. NACUBO has joined two amicus briefs in support of ongoing legal challenges to the rule changes.
New FAQ Busts Advance Refunding Myths
As Washington prepares to welcome the 117th Congress, the Government Finance Officers Association has released a 10-question FAQ to help readers understand advance refunding of municipal bonds, a tax-exempt financing tool eliminated by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The FAQ discusses how state and local governments have used advance refunding to save hundreds of billions of dollars and offers a brief legislative history of the financing tool.
NACUBO Seeks 179D Extension
As a member of the Coalition for Energy Efficient Jobs & Investment, NACUBO recently joined a letter to Congressional leadership supporting the extension of tax provisions set to expire at the end of the calendar year. After the 179D energy-efficient construction tax deduction was extended for one year in last-minute legislation at the end of 2019, the deduction once again faces expiration. NACUBO will continue to advocate for the deduction’s long-term extension or permanence.
Check out NACUBO’s latest resource featuring high-level 2020 election trends and results at both the state and federal level.
NACUBO On Your Side: November 3-9, 2020