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APLU Statement on SCOTUS’ Race-Conscious Admissions Ruling
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling on race-conscious admissions in higher education, APLU President Mark Becker released a statement highlighting public and land-grant universities’ ability to provide life-changing opportunities to students who would not otherwise have access as well as the educational and societal benefit of a diverse learning environment. The statement notes public universities’ mission to provide access to an affordable, high-quality education for all remains unchanged and public universities remain committed to drawing on and developing talent in all communities to educate the workforce America needs.

After the ruling, the White House announced a series of actions the administration will take to expand access to educational opportunities. The administration plans to provide clarity on what admissions practices and additional programs to support students remain lawful, will convene a National Summit on Educational Opportunity, and will release a report on strategies for increasing diversity and educational opportunity. Furthermore, the administration will support increased transparency in college admissions and enrollment practices and help states in analyzing data to increase access to educational opportunities for underserved communities.

White House Announces New Actions on Debt Relief, Support for Student Loan Borrowers
The White House announced several new actions targeting debt relief and additional support for student loan borrowers after the Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan. Secretary of Education Cardona announced the Department’s intent to initiate a negotiated rulemaking session to propose a new path to debt relief under the secretary’s authority under the Higher Education Act.

The Department also published final regulations, effective July 1, 2024, for its new income-driven repayment plan, the Saving on A Valuable Education (SAVE) plan, which will cut monthly payments for many low-income borrowers. Additionally, the Department of Education (ED) will institute a 12-month on-ramp to repayment for borrowers, during which time borrowers who miss payments are not considered delinquent, reported to credit agencies, placed in default, or referred to debt collection agencies. The on-ramp will coincide with ED embarking on the lengthy regulatory process on its new forgiveness plan, which will likely also be legally challenged.

APLU Submits Comments on Development of U.S. Research Security and Integrity Information Sharing Analysis Organization
APLU recently submitted comments in response to the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) request for input on the development of the U.S. Research Security and Integrity Information Sharing Analysis Organization (RSI-ISAO). The RSI-ISAO, as authorized in the CHIPS and Science Act, would serve as a new resource for universities to help share information and promote best practices to address foreign interference issues. The comments note the NSF RSI-ISAO stands to provide a significant resource by standardizing practices, providing researchers connections to trusted experts, and prioritizing next steps as universities continue to enhance research security and consider what research security needs are most appropriate for their researchers.

APLU, Double Pell Alliance Urge Congress to Protect Pell Reserve
APLU and the Double Pell Alliance recently sent a letter to House and Senate appropriations committee leadership urging them to ensure funding dedicated to the Pell Grant program remains within the Pell Grant program and is not used to fill budget gaps in other programs in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 appropriations process. The letter notes Pell Grants allow more than six million low- and middle-income students to attend college each year, and that the current maximum Pell award covers the lowest share of costs in the program’s over 50-year history. With approximately 600,000 more students becoming Pell-eligible following the implementation of the FAFSA Simplification Act, maintaining the Pell reserve will ensure funding remains available to expand access to Pell Grants. 

DOD Publishes Memo, Decision Matrix on Countering Foreign Influence in Fundamental Research
The Department of Defense (DOD) published a memorandum and decision matrix on countering foreign influence in fundamental research. The document also lists the foreign institutions that DOD has determined have engaged in problematic activities and foreign talent programs deemed a threat to national security. The memorandum establishes policies for risk-based security reviews mandated by the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act and National Security Presidential Memorandum-33 (NSPM-33), for research security risk-based mitigation decisions, for the rejection of a fundamental research project proposal based on research security risk, and for ensuring consistency of risk-based security review process. The decision matrix serves as a guide to assist program managers in reviewing fundamental research proposals for potential conflicts of interest and commitment and outlines actions prohibited by law that would preclude an investigator or institution from receiving DOD funds.

APLU and AAU Submit Joint Comment on Proposed Updates to NIH Grants Policy Statement
APLU and the Association of American Universities submitted comments outlining significant concerns with the proposed updates to the National Institutes of Health Grants Policy Statement (NIHGPS), regarding new reporting requirements for foreign sub-awardees. The comment letter notes the commitment of member institutions to being good stewards of NIH funding and notes areas that may need further clarification including definitions and potential conflicts with existing data storage and sharing policies.

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