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News & Media

Washington Update

October 6, 2021

APLU Letter to Congress Outlining Higher Education Reconciliation Priorities
APLU sent a letter to the House Education and Labor and Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committees outlining our three main priorities for improvements to the higher education components of the Build Back Better Act.
The priorities include:

  • Increasing the maximum Pell Grant by at least $1,475, consistent with the American Families Plan, as part of an overall strategy to #DoublePell
  • Decoupling the College Completion Fund from the federal-state partnership for free community college
  • Improving the maintenance of effort (MOE) provisions to adjust for inflation and thus protect and advance state funding of public higher education

The reconciliation measure remains under difficult negotiations within the Democratic party over the size and scope of the package.

Department of Education Announces Sweeping Overhaul of Public Service Loan Forgiveness
The Department of Education announced its intention to undertake a sweeping overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, saying the expanded program will benefit over half a million borrowers. This includes 22,000 borrowers having a total of $2 billion in debt canceled automatically for those who made payments for government-backed Federal Family Education Loans. Changes to the program will also include measures to count payments made under repayment plans not previously covered under PSLF. Additionally, members of the military who pause repayment on their loans while serving overseas will now have those months counted toward a total of 120 monthly repayments that are required for certain federal loans to be forgiven. To take advantage of the changes, depending on the provision, borrowers may need to submit electronic forms by October 31, 2022.

Stopgap Government Funding Bill Signed Into Law
After a week of tense negotiations, lawmakers passed and President Biden signed into law a continuing resolution funding the government largely at existing levels through December 3, 2021. The CR includes new funding to support Afghan refugees and provides disaster relief to states. Separately, Congress will need to address the debt limit to avert a default on federal debt in the coming weeks.

DHS Releases DACA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
The Department of Homeland Security released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Comments must be submitted on or before November 29. DHS Secretary Mayorkas commented, “The Biden-Harris Administration continues to take action to protect Dreamers and recognize their contributions to this country. This notice of proposed rulemaking is an important step to achieve that goal. However, only Congress can provide permanent protection. I support the inclusion of immigration reform in the reconciliation bill and urge Congress to act swiftly to provide Dreamers the legal status they need and deserve.”

APLU will work with partner higher ed associations in submitting comments on the NPRM.

NIH Director Set to Retire
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins announced his retirement as director of the agency at end of the year. APLU President Peter McPherson issued a statement thanking Dr. Collins for his service and congratulating him on the accomplishments of his tenure, saying: “Under his stewardship, NIH has made major strides in life-saving biomedical research. Dr. Collins has been a forceful champion of the vital role science plays in saving and improving lives. His vision, capacity to communicate complex science to the public, and fierce and effective advocacy for significant and growing public investment in biomedical research is part of his legacy.”

Higher Education Association Letter Regarding NSPM-33 Implementation
APLU joined the Association of American Universities, American Council on Education, Council On Governmental Relations, and Association of American Medical Colleges in a response to White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director Lander’s August 10, 2021 blog requesting feedback and comments regarding implementation of National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM-33). This letter follows on concerns raised during an August 11, 2021 community forum sponsored by OSTP and NSF.

NSPM-33, issued in the final week of the Trump administration, aims to “strengthen protections of United States Government-supported R&D against foreign government interference and exploitation” while “maintaining an open environment to foster research discoveries and innovation that benefit our nation and the world.”

OSTP is engaged in a 90-day process with federal agencies to create NSPM-33 implementation guidance. The 90 days is slated to end in mid-November.

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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