- House Passes “American Dream and Promise Act of 2021”
- AAU Urges Lawmakers to Develop Bipartisan Recovery and Competitiveness Measures
- Education Department Releases Updated HEERF II Guidance
- AAU, Organizations Urge State Department, DHS to Help International Students Return to the United States
- House Education Committee Holds Hearing on the Future of Higher Education After COVID-19
- Labor Department Announces 18-Month Delay of High-Skilled Wage Rule
- SAA Requests Generous Subcommittee Allocation to Support Federal Student Aid
- AAU Staffing Announcement
HOUSE PASSES “AMERICAN DREAM AND PROMISE ACT OF 2021”
The House yesterday advanced H.R. 6, the “American Dream and Promise Act of 2021,” which will provide permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients. President Barbara R. Snyder issued a statement praising lawmakers for helping these young undocumented immigrants -- many of whom are students, scholars, and researchers at American colleges and universities -- continue to study, work, pay taxes, and live without the constant risk of detention and deportation.
AAU URGES LAWMAKERS TO DEVELOP BIPARTISAN RECOVERY AND COMPETITIVENESS MEASURES
Today, AAU sent a letter to President Joe Biden and congressional leaders thanking them for pandemic relief measures and highlighting actions federal policymakers should pursue, in a bipartisan fashion, to bolster the government-university partnership, support our nation's recovery, and strengthen our global competitiveness. The letter urges lawmakers to: double the maximum Pell Grant award to $13,000; provide research recovery funding consistent with the bipartisan H.R. 869/S. 289, the “Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act;” invest in scientific research infrastructure; and ramp up research and STEM education investments, setting a path for sustained funding growth thereafter. “Reinvigorating the long-standing and successful government-university partnership is vital to our nation’s strength and resilience and our capacity to address challenges to our economy, climate, and security for decades to come,” the letter notes.
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT RELEASES UPDATED HEERF II GUIDANCE
This morning, the Education Department released updated Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II guidance. The guidance includes documentation detailing steps the department has taken to ensure HEERF funds can be used retroactively to the beginning of the pandemic on March 13, 2020, a resource showing how to document and calculate lost revenue (including “supported research”), and an updated HEERF II FAQ document. AAU is seeking additional information to help campuses interpret the meaning lost revenue as it pertains to “supported research.”
AAU, ORGANIZATIONS URGE STATE DEPARTMENT, DHS TO HELP INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES
AAU yesterday joined ACE and 39 other higher education organizations on a letter to the State and Homeland Security Departments urging them to take action to allow international students to return to campuses in the United States for the fall semester. The letter suggests the departments: prioritize processing for student visas and work authorizations; allow consulates to waive the requirement for in-person interviews if consulates are unable to reopen this spring; relax current guidance that prohibits American colleges and universities from providing instruction to students in “comprehensively sanctioned countries;” and more.
HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING ON THE FUTURE OF HIGHER EDUCATION AFTER COVID-19
The House Education and Labor Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee on Wednesday held a hearing titled “Rising to the Challenge: The Future of Higher Education Post-COVID-19.” During the hearing, several members brought up investments in the Pell Grant program. They included Subcommittee Chair Frederica Wilson (D-FL), who emphasized the importance of restoring the purchasing power of the Pell Grant and noted that one way Congress could lower the cost of college is to expand the program. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) mentioned her “College for All Act,” which would double the maximum Pell Grant.
Much of the hearing centered around a discussion of administrative bloat and the emergency funds appropriated to higher education institutions. In response to a question about how to cut back on administrative spending, one of the witnesses, Heritage Foundation Director of the Center for Education Policy and Mark A. Kolokotrones Fellow in Education Dr. Lindsey M. Burke, testified that Congress should eliminate the Federal Plus Loan Program and allow colleges to limit student borrowing. Subcommittee Ranking Member Greg Murphy (R-NC) asked Dr. Burke to contextualize the “size and scope of the post-secondary educational bailout” to date. Dr. Burke replied that “Over 70 billion dollars has been allocated, which is more than the entire Department of Education’s discretionary budget,” which she noted is “over 3,800 per college student.”
LABOR DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES 18-MONTH DELAY OF HIGH-SKILLED WAGE RULE
The Labor Department yesterday announced it would propose to delay its Jan. 14 high-skilled wage final rule. The proposed delay would push the effective date from May 14, 2021, to Nov. 14, 2022, and move the applicability date from July 1, 2021 to Jan. 1, 2023. The delay is expected to be published in the Federal Register on Monday, March 22.
The final rule would raise wage requirements for H-1B employees and make it more difficult for high-skilled foreign workers with degrees from U.S. colleges and universities to acquire H-1B visas. AAU has filed comments with, and sent letters to , DOL about the rule and joined an amicus brief to support a lawsuit brought by Purdue University, the University of Michigan, Indiana University, and 14 other plaintiffs.
SAA REQUESTS GENEROUS SUBCOMMITTEE ALLOCATION TO SUPPORT FEDERAL STUDENT AID
The Student Aid Alliance, of which AAU is a member, sent a letter to House and Senate Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee leaders thanking them for their continued bipartisan support of federal student aid programs and requesting a generous funding allocation from the subcommittee to support increased investments in federal student aid programs. Increased student aid funding, the letter says, would improve college affordability and enhance and expand successful programs. The letter also recommends that the Pell Grant maximum be doubled to $13,000, as it is “the single most important tool to enable low-income students to afford college.”
AAU STAFFING ANNOUNCEMENT
We are pleased to announce that Pamela Davidson will serve as associate vice president for federal relations effective Friday, March 19. Pamela will be responsible for higher education legislation, regulations, and funding issues related to student financial aid and affordability; accountability and accreditation; and other issues to be assigned. She will also work closely with the CFR and the Higher Education Task Force. She recently served in the office of former Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) as a professional staff member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee. Pamela has also served in the House and worked in government relations at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies.