Update on Student Debt Forgiveness
A federal judge in Texas struck down the Biden administration’s debt cancellation plan in a case brought by the Job Creators Network Foundation, a conservative group that filed the lawsuit in October on behalf of two student loan borrowers. The Department of Education issued a statement in response, expressing disappointment and saying, “the Department of Justice has appealed today’s decision on our behalf, and we will continue to keep borrowers informed about our efforts to deliver targeted relief.” The case is now headed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Education Department is no longer accepting applications after the ruling, but is encouraging borrowers to sign up for updates at studentaid.gov. For borrowers who have already submitted an application, ED will hold onto their applications and are prepared to move forward if the decision is reversed.
Separately, the 8th Circuit had temporarily halted the debt cancellation plan while it considered the case brought by six state attorneys general. The 8th Circuit has not yet issued a ruling on that case.
Open Doors 2022 Data Released
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education released the 2022 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, highlighting data on international student enrollments in the U.S. in the 21-22 academic year and U.S. students studying abroad in the 20-21 academic year.
The report finds a 4 percent increase in international student enrollments in the 21-22 academic year, and a 9 percent increase in the Fall 2022 semester. New international student enrollment increased eighty percent from 20-21 academic year levels in the 21-22 academic year, and an additional seven percent in the fall 2022 semester. U.S. students studying abroad declined by 91 percent in the 20-21 academic year, to just over 14,500 students. The full data set can be found here.
APLU Endorses Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act
On November 10, higher education associations submitted a letter to Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) endorsing the “Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act,” which APLU was deeply involved in drafting. The bill renames the State Department competitive grant program “Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students” (IDEAS) and expands the State Department authorization to further study abroad opportunities for undergraduate students in the U.S. The program’s goals are to increase the number of students; increase diversity of participants; and increase study abroad in nontraditional destinations, with an emphasis on economically developing countries. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Rep. John Katko (R-NY) introduced companion legislation, H.R. 9145, in the House in early October.
APLU President Mark Becker praised the bill. “International experience is essential for workers in today’s economy,” President Becker said. “We’re grateful to Senators Durbin and Wicker as well as Representatives Bustos and Katko for their steadfast leadership spearheading the bipartisan Simon Act to boost study abroad participation and bolster U.S. global competitiveness. We urge Congress to advance this critical legislation without delay.”
The legislation stems from the congressionally-chartered Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program, which was chaired by APLU President Emeritus Peter McPherson.
Letter to IRS on Inflation Reduction Act Clean Energy Tax Incentive Eligibility
APLU helped spearhead a higher education community letter to the IRS in response to their request for public comment on implementation of the clean energy tax incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The IRA included several green energy tax credits, including electricity investment or production tax credits.
The public comment letter seeks to ensure that as the IRS moves forward with implementation, all public colleges and universities are eligible. There is some concern that, due to drafting inconsistencies around the definition of “applicable entity,” some institutions that are classified as government instrumentalities will not be made eligible for the credits.
DHS Continues TPS for Several Designated Countries
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted a Notice in the Federal Register announcing the continuation of Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Nepal, the 2011 Haiti designation and the 2013 Sudan designation. For additional information on how these extensions continue compliance with federal court orders in several ongoing lawsuits, see here.
If granted TPS, individuals are permitted a temporary stay of deportation and temporary authorization to work in the United States. Under TPS, individuals are eligible for advance parole, allowing them to travel abroad and return to the United States, though this must be applied for separately.