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AAU WEEKLY WRAP-UP

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August 15, 2014

CONTENTS

BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, AND TAX ISSUES
AAU, APLU Urge Strong Support in FY16 Budget for Research, Higher Education NEW
CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES
Senators Introduce Legislation to Designate “Manufacturing Universities”
Higher Education Community Endorses Bills to Exempt Working Students from ACA
EXECUTIVE BRANCH
White House Announces December 4 Summit on College Opportunity NEW

BUDGET, APPROPRIATIONS, AND TAX ISSUES

AAU, APLU Urge Strong Support in FY16 Budget for Research, Higher Education NEW

AAU and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today urged newly confirmed Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shaun Donovan to “uphold the President’s commitments to federal investments in higher education and research” in the Administration’s FY16 budget, which is in the early stages of development.

In a letter to Donovan, AAU President Hunter Rawlings and APLU President Peter McPherson wrote, “Sustained increases above inflation in these investments are vital to closing the nation’s innovation deficit as well as promoting the long-term economic growth necessary to reduce federal budget deficits.”

They added, “Our nation is engaged in a long-term competition with other nations that will determine the economic security and quality of life for generations of Americans. While federal research funding has stagnated due to our dysfunctional budget process, countries such as China, South Korea, and Singapore are far outpacing the U.S. in their annual percentage growth of research and development funding. And as nations around the world aggressively seek to prepare their citizens to take on the global workforce challenges of the 21st century, our nation is falling behind in educating and training our people to compete and succeed. In order to maintain our competitive edge, the U.S. needs to invest in research and offer access to higher education to all who seek it.”

The two organizations endorsed funding increases for research at a number of federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and ARPA-E, the Department of Defense and DARPA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Department of Agriculture – particularly AFRI and the other agriculture research and extension programs, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

In addition, they urged that the Administration’s FY16 budget include strong funding levels for the Pell Grant and other financial aid programs, as well as graduate education and Title VI international programs.

The organizations also urged the Administration to continue to “work toward a long-term budget deficit reduction agreement that eliminates sequestration and allows for sufficient investments in high priority areas such education and research.”

CONGRESSIONAL ISSUES

SENATORS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO DESIGNATE “MANUFACTURING UNIVERSITIES”

Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have introduced the Manufacturing Universities Act of 2014 (S. 2719), a bill they said would help universities strengthen their engineering programs to meet the demands of 21st century manufacturing. Under the legislation, introduced on July 31, the National Institute of Standards and Technology would designate 25 universities as “Manufacturing Universities” and, according to an August 11 press release, “provide incentives to better align educational offerings with the needs of modern manufacturers. The incentives would be used to revamp universities’ engineering programs to focus on manufacturing engineering and curricula specifically related to targeted industries.”

The press release states that the legislation would provide designated universities $5 million per year for four years to meet specific goals, including focusing engineering programs on manufacturing, building new partnerships with manufacturing firms, growing training opportunities, and fostering manufacturing entrepreneurship.

AAU has endorsed the bill.

Higher Education Community Endorses Bills to Exempt Working Students from ACA

AAU has joined the American Council of Education and six other higher education organizations in endorsing bills introduced recently by Representatives Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Michael Turner (R-OH) that would exempt universities from having to offer employer-sponsored health care insurance plans to some students who work 30 or more hours a week as required by the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the ACA, Federal Work-Study students who work 30 or more hours a week are not subject to the ACA’s employer mandate, but other students employed by higher education institutions who work 30 or more hours must be offered employer-sponsored health care plans.

In letters to the two Members of Congress, the associations make the case that including these students in the mandate would not likely increase the number of insured. The associations note that student employees “are not typically covered under an institution’s employee health insurance plan, so applying the employer mandate in this circumstance is unnecessary.”

The associations add, “Instead, students receive health insurance coverage in a variety ways, including through their families’ health insurance coverage up to age 26 and under ACA-regulated student health insurance coverage, which schools may subsidize through their financial aid program or provide at no cost as part of a graduate school award package. In addition, students will be able to purchase coverage through individual market exchanges, possibly with premium tax subsidies, or in some states through Medicaid, if they are income eligible.”

The letters can be found here and here.

Rep. Meadows’s bill is H.R. 5262, the Student Worker Exemption Act of 2014. Rep. Turner’s bill is H.R. 5298, the Student Job Protection Act of 2014.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

White House Announces December 4 Summit on College Opportunity NEW

As part of an on-going effort to increase college access, the White House announced on August 13 that the President and First Lady will host its next Summit on College Opportunity on December 4, 2014. This past January, the President and First Lady issued a call to action answered by more than 100 college presidents and 40 nonprofits who announced new commitments to increase college opportunity for all Americans. This year’s summit will focus on building sustainable collaborations in communities with strong partnerships between K-12 and higher education to encourage college going, and supporting colleges to work together to improve persistence and increase college completion, especially for first generation, low-income, and underrepresented students. Additional details will be shared as made available.

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