Supreme Court Hears Affirmative Action Case
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina on Monday. The cases challenge the consideration of race in admissions decisions on constitutional grounds and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. APLU and other higher education organizations submitted a friend-of-the-court brief supporting UNC and Harvard. The court is expected to issue rulings on the cases in June.
ED Announces Series of Final Rules
The Department of Education recently announced two packages of final rules. The first set includes rules on the use of Pell Grants for prison education programs, implementation of the 90/10 rule, and changes of institutional ownership. The rules include a strengthened 90/10 rule that increases protections for veterans and servicemembers; prison education rules that set standards for implementation of effective prison education programs; and accountability rules for institutions undergoing changers in ownership.
The second set contains rules on targeted debt relief programs, including borrower defense, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), total and permanent disability discharges, closed school discharges, and more. The package expands eligibility of debt relief, removes barriers to relief, and encourages automatic discharges for borrowers whose school closed, who have a total and permanent disability, or whose loan was falsely certified. The rules also eliminate interest capitalization not required by statute and establishes a fairer process for borrowers to raise a defense to repayment.
Both sets of regulations will go into effect on July 1, 2023.
APLU Submits Comment on Common Research Disclosure Forms
APLU, along with the Association of American Universities, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Council on Education, and the Council on Governmental Relations, submitted comments in response to the request for comment on common disclosure required as part of applications for federal research funding for all agencies. The comment letter urges that in implementation, the administration limit variation in required disclosure data elements and instructions among agencies, ensures a transparent and uniform process for updating the common forms, and clarifies definitions to facilitate compliance across federal research agencies.
APLU will continue to engage with the implementation of the National Security Presidential Memorandum-33 (NSPM-33), “Presidential Memorandum on United States Government Support Research and Development National Security Policy,” of which the common disclosure form is one aspect. The administration plans to release other executive actions in the near future as they work to further implement NSMP-33 and research security provisions in the CHIPS and Science Act.
Coalition for the American Dream Sends Letter to Hill on DACA
The Coalition for the American Dream, of which APLU is a member, sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY), and Republican Leaders McConnell (R-KY) and McCarthy (R-CA) urging a permanent legislative solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The letter, signed by many businesses and several higher education associations, follows a decision by the U.S. Fifth Circuit of Appeals affirming the District Court’s decision that DACA is illegal. The Coalition notes that the end to DACA would mean a loss of 500,000 jobs over the next two years and an $11.7 billion hit to the economy.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit decision stayed the District Court’s injunction on approval of new DACA recipients, while allowing existing recipients to continue renewing their status. In light of the Biden administration’s DACA final rule released at the end of August, the Court of Appeals has returned the case to the District Court for further review. A timeline for the District Court’s decision has not been announced.
Court Temporarily Halts Biden Debt Forgiveness Plan, Applications Surpass 22 Million
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order temporarily halting the Biden administration debt forgiveness plan rollout as the court considers the case brought by six attorneys general/solicitors general from Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, and South Carolina.
The order halting forgiveness came on the same day the administration that applications have surpassed 22 million. That is roughly half of the more than 40 million Americans the Department of Education (ED) expects will be eligible for the forgiveness program. ED has encouraged borrowers to continue submitting their applications while this and other legal challenges are pending.