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Higher Ed Community Requests Paid Leave Tax Credit Eligibility in Phase IV
APLU worked with and helped lead the development of a higher education community letter urging Senate leadership to make public and private nonprofit colleges and universities eligible for payroll tax credits for emergency paid sick and family leave. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127), signed into law on March 18, excludes public employers from the emergency paid sick and family leave tax credits while making them available to private sector employers.

The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, passed in the House last month, includes language that would make public institutions eligible for the credit. A detailed APLU memo on the issue is available here.

Associations Recommend $26 Billion for Research Relief
APLU, the Association of American Universities, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and the American Council on Education (ACE) sent a letter to Senate leadership and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership requesting $26 billion in supplemental emergency relief funding to help support our nation’s research workforce and capabilities.

The letter builds on the initial Phase IV research advocacy request to Congress by making specific recommendations for particularly high-priority research agencies. The estimates outlined in the letter are based on agency specific recommendations and the degree to which some of these agencies support university research in their extramural research program.

Higher Ed Community Advocates for $47 Billion for Campus Financial Relief
APLU and over 80 higher education partners wrote to Senate leadership advocating for $47 billion for higher education relief funding in the Phase IV COVID-19 stimulus bill. The letter reiterates the groups’ initial communication to congressional leaders on April 9 requesting funding to “help address near-term campus financial needs, including increased need-based aid for students due to declining family incomes, and revenue losses stemming from enrollment declines and closures of campus facilities that provide auxiliary services.”

GOP Members Express Support for OPT and Student Visas
Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH) and 20 Republicans wrote to the Departments of Homeland Security and State on the importance of student visas and the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The letter requests that the agencies prioritize F and J student visa processing to facilitate fall enrollments and to preserve OPT. APLU worked with Representative Stivers, The Ohio State University, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators to develop the letter and effort. APLU formally endorsed the letter last week.

Congressional Members Push Bipartisan Support for Scientific Research
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Todd Young (R-IN), Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) introduced the Endless Frontiers Act to address the United States’ underinvestment in science and research, which has contributed to our inability to prevent, respond, and recover from the pandemic, and requests renewed investment in the research infrastructure to aid the U.S. in regaining its position as the global leader for research and development. APLU President Peter McPherson issued a statement hailing the legislation. “Now more than ever,” he said “we need a national commitment to science and research on a grand level. Research and innovation can create new sectors of the global economy, drive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and ultimately deliver long-term economic growth.”

The bill calls for “national investment in public research and development to strengthen our nation’s innovation ecosystem now and into the future.” The legislation would provide specific investments to address urgent research to combat COVID-19, sustain the U.S. global leadership in science and technology, and “pair federal investments in research and development with public- and private-partner investments in scientific and technical moonshots.”

CRS Releases Memo on Title IV Eligibility Under CARES Act
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a memo, at the behest of Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), detailing how the Department of Education (ED) allegedly exceeded its authority by excluding undocumented students from emergency financial aid provided to students under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The Department of Education guidance noted that only Title IV-eligible students may receive emergency aid provided through the CARES Act, thus precluding international and undocumented students from accessing the funds and creating significant challenges for institutions in supporting students who have not previously completed a FAFSA. The Department released additional information noting that its prior guidance lacks the “force and effect of law.”

The memo concludes that the Department’s guidance would likely be nullified in court because it did not go through the proper rulemaking process and “the Secretary’s interpretation is not a particularly persuasive reading of the statute.” Last month, Ranking Member Murray and House Appropriations LHHS-ED Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) wrote to the Department urging reversal of the guidance.

The Department may issue a formal rule on the matter.

State Applications for Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund
Politico acquired copies of state applications for the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund. This is the nearly $3 billion fund created in the CARES Act that allows governors to support K-12 or higher education at their discretion. The governors’ applications provide varying levels of details on how they may use funding. Unfortunately, the applications are provided in one large file but states are in alphabetical order.

The file does not include all applications. The deadline for states to apply was Monday.

Treasury and IRS Release Proposed Rules on Executive Compensation
Last week, the Treasury Department and IRS released a notice of proposed rulemaking to implement provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) imposing a 21 percent excise tax on compensation in excess of $1 million, as well as any excess parachute payments paid by applicable tax-exempt organizations to any covered employee.

As you may remember, a legislative drafting error resulted in the tax not applying to all public universities. The proposed rule would align tax rules for non-profits and public entities, meaning public universities organized as state entities would no longer be exempt from the excise tax.

Last year, APLU shared a paper with member universities developed by Craig Ashford, Assistant General Counsel, and Kevin Reed, Vice President and General Counsel, both with the University of Oregon, to help schools assess the application of the tax to your institutions.

The 177-page regulations are scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on June 11, 2020, meaning that the deadline for public comment will be August 10, 2020.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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