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AAU Weekly Wrap-up, February 8, 2019

  • Budget and Appropriations Update
    • FY19 Budget Conferees Optimistic on Deal
    • FY20 Appropriations Sidelined by Upcoming Administration Budget
    • Bipartisan Representatives Meet at Camp David
  • Congressional Education Leaders Outline Higher Ed Reform Agenda
  • Report Finds International Graduate Student Enrollment Down


Bipartisan budget conferees reportedly aim to have a border security deal on Monday to avert a second shutdown. President Trump yesterday met with Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) on border security funding, and the senator left “hopeful” the president would support a compromise including funds for border fencing. Conferees reportedly disagree on dollar amounts for funding a border fence; Republicans are pushing for $2 billion and Democrats for $1.6 billion. In the absence of a deal the president supports, federal funding will again run out at midnight on February 15 for nine departments and many agencies including: NSF, NASA, NEH, and USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

In the coming weeks and months, lawmakers must finish FY19 spending to avert another government shutdown, begin work on FY20 appropriations, lift the debt ceiling, and raise the budget caps to avoid across-the-board sequester cuts. Delayed by the shutdown, the administration’s budget is now expected to be released the week of March 11.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of eight House Members tonight leave for Camp David to discuss possible areas of bipartisan legislative agreement. The group meets at the invitation of the president’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. The president is not expected to attend, but agenda could include bipartisan areas of interest mentioned in the State of the Union address such as infrastructure and prescription drug prices.

029-write-letter.pngICYMI: Read AAU’s letter to congressional leaders and the conference committee and President Coleman’s statement urging Congress to finish FY19 appropriations.


Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander this week renewed his push to reauthorize the Higher Education Act before he retires in 2020. Alexander said he hopes to report the legislation out of committee by spring, and negotiations could begin as early as next week. The reauthorization would include simplifying the federal student aid application, consolidating the number of loan repayment options into two plans for borrowers, and building a new accountability system for schools based on borrower repayment.

House Education Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) also spoke of his plans for HEA reauthorization, saying he will not strike a “narrow compromise.” Scott said Alexander’s plan was a good start, but a bipartisan bill would require a broader approach to tackle college costs and expand student protections.

ICYMI: AAU and several other higher education associations previously submitted to Congress principles for Higher Education Act reauthorization, including a recommendation to ease the FAFSA application process for students.



The Council of Graduate Schools' annual International Graduate Admissions Survey finds continued declines of 1 percent in new international graduate student enrollment and 4 percent in international graduate student applications. The CGS data, gathered from a total of 369 universities for both the fall 2017 and fall 2018 admissions cycles, also shows that the declines in new international enrollments and applications are concentrated in master's and certificate programs, and doctorate programs at institutions the study designated as less research-intensive.

Inside Higher Ed has more.