U.S. Department of Education Releases Expanded Data on College Scorecard
The U.S. Department of Education released an expanded version of its College Scorecard yesterday. The tool now includes information on 2,100 additional postsecondary education options and more comprehensive information about graduation rates. The Department is also releasing preliminary information on student loan debt by field of study available to download.
APLU released a statement from Craig Lindwarm, Vice President for Congressional and Governmental Affairs, praising improvements to the Scorecard while noting significant remaining shortcomings. “Due to a congressional ban on student-level data, key gaps in the Scorecard data remain that prevent a clear and more complete picture of student outcomes at colleges and universities,” Lindwarm said. “We strongly urge Congress to approve the bipartisan, bicameral College Transparency Act (CTA) to lift the data ban and enable students and their families to see more complete and useful data about student outcomes.”
APLU Urges Passage of the Dream Act and American Promise Act
In advance of the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of H.R. 2820, The Dream Act of 2019 and H.R. 2821, the American Promise Act of 2019, APLU joined the five other presidential higher education associations in supporting the legislation. Like many other previous versions of the Dream Act, the first bill would, if conditions under the bill are met, provide conditional permanent residency and a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, Dreamers, who were brought to the country through no fault of their own. The American Promise Act would extend protections to immigrants with Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure whose status has been terminated.
Congressional Leaders and White House to Meet on Budget Caps
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) joined senior members of the Trump administration, including Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Acting White House Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, to negotiate on a deal to raise the FY2020 & FY2021 budget caps. After the meeting, Leader McConnell said he was optimistic lawmakers could reach a deal lifting the budget caps and raising the nation’s debt ceiling ahead of the September 30 deadline to fund the government.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 imposed discretionary spending caps that lawmakers have lifted in prior years, but under current law such caps are still in effect for Fiscal Years (FY) 2020 and 2021. Last week, several coalitions in which APLU is active, including the Coalitions for National Security Research and National Science Funding and United for Medical Research, sent a letter to President Trump and House and Senate leadership urging the White House and Congress to reach a bipartisan budget agreement that raises the budget caps. APLU continues to advocate for an increase to the budget caps in FY2020 & FY2021.
House Appropriations Committee Advances FY2020 Bills
The House Appropriations Committee voted 30-23, along party lines, to advance the FY2020 Labor, Health & Human Services, Education (LHHS-ED) funding bill. The full committee report is available here. APLU President Peter McPherson released a statement after passage of the bill praising the boosts to student aid and biomedical research.
The House Appropriations Committee also advanced FY2020 Defense (bill and report) and Energy and Water (bill and report) Appropriations. APLU maintains a chart of our appropriations priorities, which has been updated for the latest House action.
President Trump Unveils Merit-Based Immigration System Proposal
President Trump announced his proposal of a new “merit-based” immigration system that would award employment-based green cards through a point system that takes into consideration age, wage-level, and postsecondary education attainment, among other factors. The president criticized the current system, which he noted limits options for high-skilled international students in the U.S.
APLU President Peter McPherson released a statement expressing appreciation for the president’s stated aim of retaining more international student graduates in the U.S., but noting the need for additional details to see if the proposed policy would accomplish the goal. President McPherson also expressed disappointment that the proposal did not address Dreamers and urged lawmakers to pass a lasting solution.
“Kiddie Tax” Fix in House Bill
Ahead of this week’s House vote on H.R. 1994, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, APLU joined the five other presidential higher education associations among others to endorse language in the bill which would address the “Kiddie Tax.” The 124-page bill on retirement security offered by Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) would be used as a vehicle for the Kiddie Tax fix.
Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), students who received scholarships or grants for non-tuition expenses were subject to the same marginal tax rate on the “unearned income” as their parents. However, when the TCJA was enacted, this income became subject to the same rate as trusts and estates, up to 37 percent. The intent of the provision was to prevent wealthy parents from sheltering income with children. The impacts to low-income students, though, were not sufficiently considered. The unintended consequences of these changes in TCJA were recently the subject of articles in Inside Higher Ed and The New York Times.
The relevant language in the manager’s amendment to the bill would strike the TCJA language on the Kiddie Tax reverting back to prior law. Therefore, the tax rate of dependent students’ parents would be used rather than the rate for trusts and estates. The language would also apply the fix retroactive to December 31, 2017 so it applies to the 2018 tax year.
APLU Urges State Department to Prioritize U.S.-Africa Higher Ed Ties
President McPherson sent a letter to State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo expressing concerns about the plateauing number of African students studying at U.S. colleges and universities. The letter cites the increased number of African students studying at Chinese universities and stresses the importance of strengthening African universities and educating African students in the U.S.
The letter encourages the Secretary to expand U.S. and African university partnerships by increasing training and education in the U.S. of exceptional African students and by creating partnerships between U.S. and African universities to increase educational effectiveness and build long-term U.S.-African relationships.
APLU Joins CUPA-HR to Submit Comments on DOL Overtime Rule
APLU joined College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) and others in submitting comments to the Department of Labor on the Department’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued in March, “Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees” also known as the “overtime rule.” DOL proposes raising the standard salary threshold for the “white collar exemption” to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime pay requirements from its current level of $455 per week or $23,660 annually to $679 per week or $35,308 annually. It also raises the salary level for the Highly Compensated Exemption (HCE) to $147,414 from its current level of $100,000. The proposal does not make any changes to the duties requirements.
The comment letter details how colleges and universities will be impacted by the proposed changes and makes recommendations for improving the proposed rules.
Senators Introduce Global Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing Act
Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Global Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing Act. The bill aims to promote expansion of the national network of Manufacturing USA Institutes and strengthen advanced manufacturing resources, so the U.S. is able to compete globally and maintain economic and national security. A summary of the bill is available here. APLU and other higher education and manufacturing organizations support the bill.