- Tax Legislation Update
- Senate Continues to Debate Tax Legislation
- Associations Write in Support of Universal Charitable Giving Deduction Amendment
- AAU President Says Promises of Pro-growth Tax Reform Fall Flat
- Budget and Appropriations Update
- House Introduces Higher Education Act Reauthorization Bill
- AAU President Expresses Strong Concerns with HEA Reauthorization Bill
- American Academy of Arts and Sciences Releases Report on the Future of Undergraduate Education
- AAU-APLU Working Group Report Outlines Recommendations to Ensure Public Access to Research Data
- Secretary DeVos Announces Plans to Revamp Federal Student Aid Processes
- White House Announces IES Director Nomination
TAX LEGISLATION UPDATE
A final vote is expected this evening on the Senate tax reform bill following two days of floor debate. After a caucus meeting today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters “we have the votes.” At least seven GOP senators had previously expressed concerns with the bill, but an expansive manager’s amendment to be released later today will likely incorporate several revisions, including those sought by the senators. One such holdout, Senator Jeff Flake, today announced his support noting assurances from Senate leadership and the administration that they will work to “enact fair and permanent protections for DACA recipients.”
Yesterday, AAU joined several higher education associations in a letter expressing support for Senator James Lankford’s charitable giving amendment (#1593) to the Senate tax reform legislation. The letter says that although the tax bill preserves the charitable deduction, doubling the standard deduction would result in only five percent of taxpayers choosing to itemize. Senator Lankford’s amendment would counteract this by allowing non-itemizing taxpayers to deduct charitable gifts up to one-third of the standard deduction threshold. AAU President Mary Sue Coleman, earlier this month, urged the inclusion of this proposal in any final tax bill.
AAU President Mary Sue Coleman on Monday released a blog post to highlight and expand on the harmful provisions in the House and Senate tax reform proposals. “Tax reform cannot be truly pro-growth if it comes at the expense of students and their families and undermines the ability of research universities to drive economic growth, as they have for the past 70 years,” she wrote. Share her blog on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE
Current federal funding is set to run out after December 8. To avoid a government shutdown, House Republican leaders are considering a two-week spending deal to fund the government until December 22, allowing for further long-term funding negotiations with Democrats. Congress would then pass another short-term funding bill to run through January, allowing appropriators time to craft an omnibus FY18 spending package. Reports indicate, however, that some members of the party would prefer a five-week continuing resolution (CR) that delays spending talks to the new year. Members of the Democratic party and some Republicans insist that such a CR should include a legislative fix for DACA – something Speaker Ryan has opposed.
HOUSE INTRODUCES HIGHER EDUCATION ACT REAUTHORIZATION BILL
The House Education and Workforce Committee today released its proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Dubbed the "Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Higher Education Reform (PROSPER) Act," the bill would eliminate subsidized loans, the supplemental education opportunity grant, and shift to a one grant, one loan and one work-study system, and a single income-based repayment plan. The bill would also end the public service loan forgiveness program and place a cap on the amount graduate students can borrow.
AAU President Mary Sue Coleman issued a statement expressing concerns with certain provisions of the bill that would make higher education less affordable for low- and middle-income students.
AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES RELEASES REPORT ON THE FUTURE OF UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION
Yesterday, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences released a new report, “The Future of Undergraduate Education, The Future of America.” The report offers recommendations that align with national priorities of strengthening the student educational experience, increasing completion rates, reducing inequities, and controlling costs and increasing affordability. It also highlights numerous positive campus undergraduate education reforms, including some that are part of the AAU Undergraduate STEM Education Initiative.
AAU-APLU WORKING GROUP REPORT OUTLINES RECOMMENDATIONS TO ENSURE PUBLIC ACCESS TO RESEARCH DATA
AAU and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) on Wednesday released a report that provides principles and recommended actions universities and federal agencies can take to advance timely access to data from federally-sponsored research grants. “Ensuring that research data are more accessible clearly has tremendous potential to fuel scientific analysis and discovery by making data more open to scrutiny, re-analysis, and extension,” states the report. It goes on to note that by committing to a set of shared principles and minimal levels of standardization across institutions and agencies, can minimize costs while maximizing control institutions have over how they improve access to publicly funded scholarship.
SECRETARY DEVOS ANNOUNCES PLANS TO REVAMP FEDERAL STUDENT AID PROCESSES
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday announced the Department will overhaul how it manages federal student aid programs to be more consumer friendly and cost effective. The goal of the proposed changes she said, is to create a “customer experience that will rival Amazon or Apple’s Genuis Bar.” An Education Department release notes that in spring 2018, the office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) will launch a mobile platform, allowing students and parents to complete the FAFSA via mobile form. The FSA will also change how the department collects payments from borrowers by shifting to a single payment processing system in 2019, after current loan servicing contracts expire.
WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCES IES DIRECTOR NOMINATION
On Tuesday, President Trump announced his intention to nominate Mark Schneider to serve as Director of the Institute for Education Science in the Department of Education. Dr. Schneider currently serves as vice president and institute fellow at the American Institutes for Research. He previously served as Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics from 2005-2008. Dr. Schneider is also a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of political science at Stony Brook University, the State University of New York.