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Washington Update

COVID Relief Update
The U.S. House of Representatives just passed H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act, sending the bill to President Biden for his signature. APLU has put together a comprehensive summary of provisions of most significance to public universities. The measure includes $39.6 billion for a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), 91 percent of which provides funding to all nonprofit and public colleges and universities and 7.5 percent of which is for additional funding to HBCUs, MSIs, and institutions that qualify for the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP). Remaining funds are provided by the Department of Education to institutions that “have the greatest amount of unmet need” and to for-profit institutions. Unlike previous COVID-19 relief bills, the American Rescue Plan Act specifies in statute that funds will be available for use through September 30, 2023. APLU issued a statement praising the passage of the bill.

APLU’s projections of funding to institutions are as follows:

There are many other important measures relevant to public universities, including:

  • $350 billion to state and local governments.
  • Funding for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Education Sciences.
  • $1 billion in USDA funding for outreach and support for “socially disadvantaged” groups, with “not less than 5 percent” to support and supplement research, education, and extension, and scholarships and programs that provide internships and pathways to federal employment. The following institutions receive “not less than 1 percent” each of the $1 billion to support such purposes: 1890s colleges, 1994 land-grant institutions, Alaska Native serving institutions and Native Hawaiian serving institutions, Hispanic-serving institutions, and insular area institutions.
  • Inclusion of public entities in tax relief (paid leave tax credit and employee retention tax credit).
  • Taxpayers can count dependent students to qualify for additional stimulus amounts up to $1400 per individual.
  • Closes the 90/10 loophole by requiring proprietary institutions to derive no less than 10 percent of their revenue from funds other than federal education assistance funds, including the GI Bill.
  • Eliminates tax consequences of student loan forgiveness between December 31, 2020, and January 1, 2026 for qualifying loans.

President Biden Issues EO on Title IX; House Dems Implore ED Secretary to Replace Trump Administration Title IX Rule
On Monday, President Biden issued an executive order (EO) on Title IX titled “Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.” The EO directs Department of Education (ED) Secretary Miguel Cardona to review Title IX policy changes promulgated by the Trump administration. Within 100 days, in consultation with the Attorney General, Secretary Cardona shall provide his findings to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Last week, 115 House Democrats sent a letter to Secretary Cardona imploring ED to replace the Trump administration’s final Title IX rule, arguing the regulations are contrary to the “letter and spirit” of Title IX, strip protections for survivors, and overburden schools already struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter also urges the Secretary to issue interim guidance clarifying earlier guidance on Title IX protections against sexual harassment in schools as well as issues that have emerged during the pandemic, including accommodations for online and off-campus harassment.

As the Trump administration action went through the rulemaking process, our expectation is efforts to substantively modify/repeal the final Title IX rule will similarly need to go through rulemaking as prescribed by the Administrative Procedures Act.

National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Releases Final Report
On March 2, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence released its final report to Congress and President Biden. The report makes recommendations to “advance the development of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and associated technologies to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.” Of interest to APLU institutions, recommendations address research funding, immigration reforms, intellectual property and security regulations, and more.

ED Releases CRRSAA MSI Funding Allocation Tables
ED released allocation tables of funding for Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions (ANNHs), Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs), Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (DHSIs), and Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans (PPOHAs) from the COVID relief legislation passed in December, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) The announcement also included allocations for institutions eligible for funds through the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP). Allocations for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are available here.

Higher Ed Community Urges Quick Passage of Dream Act
On February 22, APLU joined higher education community partners on a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) endorsing S.264, the Dream Act of 2021, and urging swift passage of the bill. Reintroduced earlier this month by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the Dream Act would allow some undocumented students who meet certain criteria to earn lawful permanent residence in the United States and provides a path to citizenship.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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