President Biden Signs COVID Relief Bill into Law
On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), into law. The $1.9 trillion package includes funding for a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Standards and Technology, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Education Sciences, and more.
APLU’s comprehensive analysis of provisions of most significance to public universities is available here. APLU President Peter McPherson released a statement applauding passage of the bill. APLU also issued a statement on the U.S. Department of Education guidance on pandemic relief for universities.
House Passes American Dream and Promise Act
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act by a vote of 237-187. The legislation provides a path to citizenship for undocumented students and some recipients of Temporary Protected Status. APLU expressed support for the bill prior to the vote and urged members of the House to vote in favor of the legislation. APLU will continue to advocate for Senate action to protect Dreamers.
College Transparency Act Reintroduced
Last week, Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reintroduced the College Transparency Act (CTA) along with colleagues in the House of Representatives, Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Mikie Sherill (D-NJ), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Suzanna Bonamici (D-OR), and Bryan Steil (R-WI). The legislation would lift the student-level data ban in the Higher Education Act and provide for much more comprehensive higher education outcomes data. For example, the Department of Education would be able to report employment outcomes for all students, not just those who receive federal financial aid. The measure would also allow for important data disaggregations by race, gender, recipient of veterans benefits status, and more. Additionally, the bill would assist policymakers in making evidence-based decisions. APLU strongly supports the bill.
NIH Updates Forms Related to Financial Conflicts of Interest
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) updated its forms and funding applications to provide more clarity to applicants and institutions regarding the reporting of all research activities, foreign and domestic, and other paid or unpaid positions. The updated reporting requirements are an effort by NIH to support collaboration between federal science agencies and align with the guidance issued by the Office of Science and Technology Policy Joint Committee on the Research Environment late last year. The new reporting requirements will go into effect on May 25, 2021.
Associations Urge International Student Support for Fall Semester
On March 18, APLU joined partner associations and organizations on a letter to Department of State Secretary Antony Blinken and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urging action that will allow international students to return to U.S. college campuses for the upcoming fall semester. The letter offers several suggestions including prioritizing student visas and work authorizations; permitting consular officers to waive the requirement for in-person interviews or allowing for online visa interviews; issuing guidance authorizing new international students study in the U.S. even if their courses are 100 percent online; and lifting travel restrictions for students in countries where travel is banned to the U.S.
Organizations Submit Comments on H-1B Lottery Rule Delay
APLU joined industry and association partners in submitting comments to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in response to the agency’s decision last month to delay implementation of the Trump administration’s H-1B lottery rule, Modification of Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking To File Cap-Subject H-1B Petitions, from March 9, 2021 to December 31, 2021. The organizations express support for postponing the effective date of the rule while backing a review of the regulations to ensure they do not negatively impact employers and that early-career professionals, including international students who graduate from U.S. institutions, have opportunity.