Capitol Connection Newsletter

September 2014 Newsletter


ACCT Submits Comments on Senate HEA Reauthorization Bill

This summer, Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman, Tom Harkin (D-IA) released a comprehensive draft bill for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). ACCT created a fact sheet providing a detailed overview of the bill. ACCT also offered joint comments to the Senate HELP Committee with AACC in response to this 785-page discussion draft.

Read More on Senate HEA


House Begins Moving HEA Reauthorization Bills

In contrast to the Senate’s comprehensive Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization draft bill, the House has begun to actively consider smaller HEA bills in committee and on the House floor. Thus far, this has been a mostly bipartisan effort addressing topics that have gained widespread support. More bills are expected in the fall as the House continues its piecemeal approach to reauthorization.

Read More on House HEA


House Passes AOTC Reform Bill

In July, the House considered and passed HR 3393, the Student and Family Tax Simplification Act by a vote of 227 – 187. HR 3393 consolidates existing tax credits into a simplified and permanent American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). It provides a number of benefits to college students, including making the AOTC permanent. Under current law the benefit is set to expire in 2017.

Read More on AOTC


Higher Ed Roundup

This month’s Higher Ed Roundup will cover a number of topics, including: the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act; an update on the fiscal year 2015 appropriations process; a new experimental site initiative from the Department of Education; changes to in-state tuition for some veteran students; and rules on PLUS loans.

Read More on Higher Ed Roundup



July 2014 Newsletter

House and Senate Release HEA Reauthorization Proposals

Following numerous hearings in the House and Senate, both chambers have released priorities for the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). Democrats on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee released a comprehensive discussion draft reauthorization bill in late-June. Additionally, House Education and Workforce Committee Republicans issued a white paper on their principles for reauthorization. Both proposals provide good insight on what priorities the parties wish to pursue for reauthorization, as well as areas of agreement.

Read More on HEA


Senate Passes Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization Bill

Signed into law in 1998, the Workforce Investment Act authorizes the federal job training and workforce investment system. For over a decade, Congress has worked on reauthorizing this bill. With Senate passage of the bipartisan bicameral Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Congress now appears close to achieving that long-overdue reauthorization. WIOA is a compromise of the Senate’s Workforce Investment Act of 2013 and the House’s Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act. The bill provides for a six-year reauthorization, including a two-year implementation period.

Read More on WIOA


Senate Starts then Stalls with FY 2015 L-HHS-ED

In June, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (L-HHS-ED) held a markup on its FY 2015 funding package. The bill passed out of subcommittee with the expectation that a full-committee markup would be held that same week. However, the full-committee markup was postponed with only speculation regarding if or when a markup may occur. Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) may still be able to bring L-HHS-ED to the floor as part of a ‘mini-bus,’ circumventing the standard full-committee markup.

Read More on FY 2015


President Obama to take Executive Action on Student Loan Repayment and Servicer Contracting

In June, President Obama announced a plan to expand the "Pay as You Earn" (PAYE) loan repayment option to additional federal loan borrowers through executive order. PAYE is more generous than other income-driven repayment plans, allowing federal Direct Loan borrowers to cap their monthly loan payments at 10 percent of discretionary income and providing forgiveness of the remaining loan debt after 20 years. However, in order to qualify, students must be a new borrower on or after October 1, 2007 and received a disbursement on or after October 1, 2011.

Read More on Loan Repayment



June 2014 Newsletter

Congress Set to Consider Bipartisan WIA Reauthorization Bill

The House and Senate may move forward this month with a bipartisan bicameral bill that would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act. The bill, entitled the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), is currently being hotlined in the Senate with the hope of passing it by unanimous consent. It’s expected that the House will consider the bill soon after Senate passage. WIOA is a compromise of the Senate’s Workforce Investment Act of 2013 and the House’s Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act. The bill provides for a six-year reauthorization, including a two-year implementation period.

Read More WIOA


Community Colleges Submit Comments on Gainful Employment

The U.S. Department of Education has, for the past four years, engaged in a process to regulate “Gainful Employment (GE)” programs. While the primary focus of GE is the for-profit sector, the majority of programs covered under GE are community college certificate programs. AACC and ACCT have submitted a joint letter to the Department in response to the latest set of GE rules. We are seeking modifications from the Department to reduce the burden of the final rule on low-cost institutions, and to focus the regulations on programs that lead to high levels of borrowing and student loan indebtedness. The letter has a number of provisions that make the case that the metrics are ill-suited to community college programs, which are generally small and have few borrowers, and should be modified to create front-end “pass” for low levels of borrowing. Additionally, the burden of reporting and disclosure requirements must be alleviated through new thresholds, time limits, and year-to-year consistency.

Read the Recommendations


Higher Ed Roundup

This month’s Higher Ed Roundup will cover new competitive grant funding available under the First in the World program, Senate student loan hearings, a Senate bill on college affordability, as well as an update on FY 2015 appropriations.

Ream More Higher Ed Roundup



May 2014 Newsletter

Program Integrity Negotiated Rulemaking Still Deadlocked

At the end of April, appointed members of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Program Integrity and Improvement (PII) negotiated rulemaking committee made substantive progress on several topics for discussion during what was the third round of negotiations (April 21-23) expected to end in late May. The forthcoming regulations have the potential to significantly impact higher education and a few of the topics have been the subject of court battles, lobbying, and legislative pressure. However, negotiators remain sharply divided on the most controversial of the PII draft rules, including those governing state authorization for distance education, “cash management” of federal student aid and the corresponding rules around sponsored financial accounts and debit or prepaid cards, and the definition of adverse credit for Direct PLUS loans.

Read More Program Integrity


Congress Moves Forward with Appropriations as House Subcommittee Funding Levels are Released

The week of May 5th, the House Appropriations Committee announced its subcommittee, or 302(b) allocations for FY 2015. These numbers will set the overall caps in the House for each of the 12 appropriations bills considered by Congress, including the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill (LHHS-ED). While the LHHS-ED 302(b) allocation is less than last year’s final allocation, it is significantly higher than last year’s initial subcommittee allocation. This indicates that this year the House is more likely to move its individual subcommittee bill through mark up. Both the House and Senate state the goal to have their individual LHHS-ED bills marked up before mid-July.

Read More on Appropriations


DoL Announces Final Round of TAACCCT Grants and New Job-Driven Training Grants

In April, President Obama and Vice President Biden visited the Community College of Allegheny County to announce the availability of $450 million in grant funds for the fourth round of Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program. The TAACCCT grant program was created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support educational and career-training programs focused on dislocated and unemployed workers.  $2 billion in mandatory funds were appropriated for FY 2011 – 2014, making this the final round for TAACCT grants. The grants support partnerships between community colleges and employers to develop programs that provide pathways to good jobs, including building instructional programs that meet specific industry needs. This final round calls for increased engagement with employers through industry partnerships.

Read More on DoL Grants


Higher Ed Roundup

This month’s higher education roundup will cover a number of items, including changes to direct loan interest rates for the upcoming school year, an update on tax extenders, changes to the Pell Grant baseline, the confirmation of a new Under Secretary for the Department of Education, and new regulations for TEACH grants.

Read More on Higher Ed Roundup


April 2014 Newsletter

President Obama and the House Release FY 2015 Budget Proposals

The fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget and appropriations cycle is well underway with differing proposals released by President Obama and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). Both plans outline a philosophical vision regarding priority spending and deficit reduction. Both budget proposals respect the overall spending cap which was set at the end of 2013 via the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA). The President’s budget would maintain existing allocations between defense and nondefense, but also proposes an additional $56 billion in domestic spending above the BBA caps contingent on changes to the tax code and alternative spending cuts. Alternatively, Chairman Ryan’s proposal maintains overall caps but includes significant cuts for nondefense discretionary programs. Over 10 years, the House budget would cut nondefense discretionary spending by approximately $790 billion while increasing defense spending by $480 billion.

Read More on Budget


ED Now Taking Public Comments on Gainful Employment

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recently released and opened public comment on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to set standards for vocational programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions which must “prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation.” ED held several negotiated rulemaking sessions on gainful employment last fall, but the committee did not come to an agreement. The new regulations include a number of revisions from prior versions of the rule – both draft and final – to satisfy court opinions and demands from consumer groups to strengthen the regulation’s impact on predatory programs.

Read More on GE


Tax Reform Proposal Includes Significant Changes for Higher Ed

House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) recently introduced a comprehensive tax reform package that includes significant proposed changes to higher education tax benefits. The proposal aims to consolidate and simplify a significant number of existing tax credits and deductions in order to lower overall individual and business tax rates. The changes to higher education tax benefits would net $18.7 billion in savings to the federal government over 10 years. Section 127 employer educational assistance program, Coverdell savings accounts, and deduction for interest on education loans would all be eliminated under Chairman Camp's proposal.

Read More on Tax


Program Integrity ‘Negotiated Rulemaking’ Committee Making Headway

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is in the midst of four more rounds of “negotiated rulemaking” – this time over issues related to “program integrity and improvement.” The negotiating committee is charged with reaching consensus on six primary areas concerning the distribution of federal financial aid by the close of the last session, now scheduled for some time in late May.

Read More on Program Integrity


Higher Ed Roundup

This month’s Higher Ed Roundup will highlight Congressional hearings held in preparation for the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), as well as relevant reports released by the Administration. Additionally, we’ll provide an update regarding the impact of sequestration on mandatory funded programs for FY 2015.

Read More Higher Ed Roundup


February 2014 Newsletter

Highlights from the 2014 Community College National Legislative Summit

This year, ACCT in collaboration with AACC, once again held its annual Community College National Legislative Summit (NLS) during the second week of February. Over 1,000 community college leaders came to Washington, DC to participate at NLS and visit with their elected representatives on Capitol Hill.

Read More on NLS


FY 2014 Appropriations Wrap Up and FY 2015 Cycle Begins

Following the protracted spending debates that shut down the federal government last fall, Congress has shown a move towards bipartisanship through completion of the appropriations process for FY 2014. This was finalized in line with the Bipartisan Budget Act, which passed in December and set funding levels for FY 2014 and 2015 at $1.012 trillion and $1.014 trillion respectively. The budget agreement also provided $63 billion toward sequester replacement.

Read More on Appropriations


Higher Education Round Up

A new $150 million grant announcement, adjunct faculty Affordable Care Act guidance, new Pell Grant baseline numbers, and committee retirements and changes are highlighted in this month’s higher education roundup.

Read More on Higher Ed


ACCT 2014 Leadership to Be Held October 22 - 25

Additional info on Congress



December 2013 Newsletter

Gainful Employment Negotiated Rulemaking Extended to Third and Final Session

At the conclusion of what was scheduled to be the last “gainful employment” negotiated rulemaking session on November 20, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) acknowledged growing concerns from negotiators over the lack of available data on the impact of the proposed rules and suggested adding one additional meeting day to attempt to reach consensus. Negotiators and ED will now meet again on Friday, December 13 to discuss unresolved concerns and to review the latest estimates from the Department on how many vocational programs would pass, fail, or otherwise struggle to meet the gainful employment metrics in their current form. As defined under federal law, the majority of programs that fall under the requirement to prepare students for “gainful employment” are located at more than 1,200 community and technical colleges nationwide.

Read More on Gainful Employment


Rumors Abound over Budget Conference Committee Deal

As the December 13th deadline approaches for the budget conference committee to produce its recommendations to Congress, reports of a framework for a budget deal have emerged. The committee co-chairs, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), have been working behind the scenes to develop a budget plan for the remainder of FY 2014 and 2015. Reports have indicated that the emerging agreement could replace as much as $65 billion of the $218.7 billion in scheduled sequester cuts for FY 2014 and 2015.

Read More on Budget Deal


CTE the Focus of House Hearing and New Grant Program

On November 19th, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing entitled, “Preparing Today's Students for Tomorrow's Jobs: Improving the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.” The hearing focused on the reauthorization of the Perkins Act (CTE), and was the first full committee hearing examining these issues since 2006.

Read More on CTE


Higher Ed Roundup

 A series of higher education hearings and a new round of negotiated rulemaking are among the highlights in this month’s “Higher Ed Roundup,” as talk surrounding the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act heats up on Capitol Hill. Additionally, in November the U.S. Department of Education (ED) held four "open forums" on the President's plan to design a college ratings system. ACCT provided testimony on the President's plan and encouraged ED to develop data that fairly and accurately reflect the unique open-access mission of community colleges.

 Read More on Higher Ed Roundup



November 2013 Newsletter


Post-Shutdown:  Where Congress Goes From Here

On October 1st the new federal fiscal year began, and with no continuing joint appropriations package coming from Congress the government ceased operations for the first time in seventeen years. Partisan fighting over the budget, spending, and the Affordable Care Act had come to a head resulting in a sixteen day government shutdown. During that time 800,000 federal workers were furloughed, including the majority of staff from the Department of Education. However, the impact on higher education institutions and students was not felt too harshly since most federal student financial aid had already been distributed for the semester. 

Read More on Shutdown


Gainful Employment Rulemaking Panel to Meet Again this Month

On October 11, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) – citing the shutdown of the federal government upon a lapse of appropriations – was forced to reschedule the second round of negotiated rulemaking for ‘gainful employment’ which would establish new regulations on vocational programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions. The session, originally slated for October 21-23rd, has now been rescheduled for November 18–20th, 2013.

Read More on Gainful Employment


Higher Ed Roundup

On Thursday, October 31st, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee convened its second in a series of hearings related to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The hearing, titled “Attaining a Quality Degree: Innovations to Improve Student Success,” focused on emerging and innovative practices in higher education that can move students to a degree, certificate, or credential more quickly or at lower cost – including flexible uses of federal student aid.

Read More on Higher Ed


September 2013 Newsletter


New Gainful Employment Rulemaking Kicks Off with Significant Revisions

 On September 11, the negotiated rulemaking panel convened by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to consider new “gainful employment” regulations wrapped up three days of formal negotiations over the 2013 draft rules released by ED in late August. Negotiations will continue at a second session on October 21–23, after which ED will publish final rules that will become effective prior to the 2014–15 academic year.

Read More on Gainful Employment


President Obama Releases Proposal on Higher Education Reform

In late August, President Obama presented a plan aimed at reducing college costs and measuring higher education performance. The plan targets a number of areas of federal higher education policy with some new, and some old, proposals. Overall, the plan is divided into three baskets: paying for performance; promoting innovation and competition; and ensuring that student debt remains affordable.

Read More on Higher Ed Proposal


Sequestration, Debt Limit Complicate FY 2014 Appropriations

With the October1 fiscal year deadline fast approaching, Congress must address two major hurdles in finalizing a fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations package. In the next couple of weeks, Congress will likely pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government temporarily running through October, November, and possibly December. Currently, the House is facing difficulty gaining enough votes to pass a CR based on demands from some in the Republican caucus regarding the defunding of Obamacare. While there is a desire among Republican leadership to get past this issue to avert a potential government shutdown, it still does not address the biggest hurdles for FY 2014 funding.

Read More on Appropriations


Higher Education Roundup

CBO Releases report on Pell Grants - In early September, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a new report entitled “The Federal Pell Grant Program: Recent Growth and Policy Options.” The report, which was requested by the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Budget, examines the recent history of the Pell Grant program and the effect of federal policy changes. Additionally, the report assesses the fiscal and human impact of implementing additional changes to the Pell Grant program.

Read More on Higher Ed Roundup


Policy Spotlight

National Student Clearinghouse Report Suggests Most Community College Transfers Succeed - Over 60 percent of students transferring from a two-year institution go on to complete a four-year degree within six years, according to an August 6 report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Although it has long been known that community colleges play an increasingly important role for students on the way to a baccalaureate degree, the difficulties of federal data collection have prevented efforts to examine the success rates for students on this pathway.

Read More on Policy Spotlight



August 2013 Newsletter

Community Colleges Submit Comments for Higher Education Act Reauthorization

On Friday, August 2, comments regarding the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) were due to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The HEA governs nearly all federal higher education funding and programs, including institutional aid, federal student loans and grants, competitive grants, and disclosure and reporting requirements. It was last reauthorized in 2008. ACCT submitted joint comments with the American Association of Community Colleges on requested legislative changes to the law that would enhance the ability of community colleges to fulfill their mission and better serve our students.

Read More on HEA


Congress Passes Final Student Loan Interest Rate Fix

On Wednesday, July 31, the House passed a Senate-amended version of H.R. 1911, the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, by a vote of 392 to 31, putting an end to months of Congressional gridlock over the increase in subsidized Stafford loan rates that occurred on July 1st . The Senate had passed the bill the previous week, by a vote of 81 to 18.

Read More on Student Loans


Negotiators Announced for Gainful Employment Panel

Beginning September 9th, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) will proceed with a new round of negotiated rulemaking to determine the Title IV eligibility of “gainful employment” programs. Last year, a federal judge overturned major portions of the initial regulation, driving ED to rework the regulations through a new round of rulemaking.

Read More on Gainful Employment


Senate Holds Markup on WIA Reauthorization

At the end of July, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a markup on S. 1356, the Workforce Investment Act of 2013. The bill reauthorizes the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which has been overdue for reauthorization for a decade. S. 1356 is a bipartisan counter to the House-passed Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act.

Read More on WIA


Senate Proceeds with FY 2014 Education Funding Bill

With relatively few legislative calendar days left before the end of the fiscal year, the House and Senate will soon need to come to some type of funding agreement to keep the government running past September 30th. However, coming to an agreement may be quite contentious given vastly different topline appropriations numbers between the chambers and the complexity of sequestration.  Over the summer months, the House and Senate have been separately working on drafting and marking up the 12 appropriations bills that Congress is supposed to pass annually. This includes the perennially challenging Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS-ED) appropriations bill.

Read More on Appropriations



July 2013 Newsletter

Rates Double, Still No End to Student Loan Interest Fight

On July 1, the interest rates on new subsidized Stafford student loans officially doubled from 3.4 to 6.8 percent. Unlike the last-minute agreement to avert the rate change last year, House and Senate negotiators let the deadline pass, and are now hoping for a deal sometime in July that will retroactively fix rates on loans issued in the interim and set new rates for future loans.

Read More on Interest Rates


House Holds Accreditation Reform Hearing

On June 13th, the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training held a hearing on accreditation as part of its ongoing series of hearings on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. 

Read More on Accreditation Hearing


Immigration Reform Passes U.S. Senate

On June 27th, the Senate formally passed comprehensive immigration reform, known formally as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), by a vote of 68 to 32.

Read More on Immigration


ESEA Reauthorization Sees Partisan Approach in Both Chambers

The House and Senate have both considered and passed out of committee separate partisan bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  On June 13th the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions approved a bill by Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) known as S. 1094, the Strengthen America Schools Act by a party line vote.

Read More on ESEA


ACCT Policy Spotlight

In June, ACCT joined with Single Stop USA released a white paper entitled, “Clearing the Path to a Brighter Future:  Addressing Barriers to Community College Access and Success.”  The release occurred in conjunction with a briefing on Capitol Hill that highlighted the partnership between ACCT and Single Stop, as well as the several policy recommendations related to federal student aid and comprehensive student support services.



June 2013 Newsletter

Overview of Proposals on Student Loan Interest Rates

On July 1st, interest rates for new borrowers of subsidized Stafford loans are set to double to 6.8 percent barring Congressional intervention.  Thus far, Congress has introduced and considered multiple bills, yet compromise remains elusive.  At the core is a divide over whether to extend the current rate of 3.4 percent for a year or two, or to implement a larger fix in the near-term. 

Read More on Interest Rates


Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Comprehensive Immigration Bill Benefiting DREAM Students

On May 21st, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed bipartisan legislation known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744) championed by the Senate “Gang of Eight”.  While the advancement of the bill to the Senate floor marks a significant milestone, efforts to secure comprehensive immigration reform still face challenges ahead. 

Read More on Immigration


Higher Ed Roundup

Over the last month there has been legislative and policy activity on a number of fronts impacting higher education and community colleges.  From appropriations to regulations, it has been an active month.  ACCT has provided a synopsis on several of these items.

Read More on Higher Ed


May 2013 Newsletter

President Obama Releases FY 2014 Budget Request

On April 10th, the Administration released the President’s long-awaited fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request.   The Administration attributed the two month delay to budgeting complications associated with sequestration.  

Read More on Budget


New Round of Higher Ed Negotiated Rulemaking on Pell Runners and Gainful Employment

On April 16th, the Department of Education posted a notice for a new round of negotiated rulemaking for higher education.  The notice builds upon the Department’s announcement and subsequent hearings last May surrounding proposed regulations for Title IV programs.  The new round will encompass issues discussed last year, as well as a redo on several departmental regulations that were struck down by the courts. 

Read More on Rulemaking


Hill Hearings Put Higher Ed Reauthorization on Center Stage

The House and Senate have started down the long road towards a Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization through a series of hearings examining a broad array of issues.  While HEA hearings are expected to continue in the months to come, three recent hearings focusing on student aid reform and transparency highlighted priorities for a number of committee members. 

Read More on HEA Hearings


April 2013 Newsletter

House and Senate Budget Resolutions Demonstrate Fundamental Differences

This year, the Senate has shown a renewed interest in pursuing a budget resolution under the leadership of new Budget Committee Chair, Patty Murray (D-WA). For the first time in several years, both the House and Senate have passed a budget resolution, albeit not a joint resolution.

Read More on Budget Resolutions


House Tackles Workforce Investment Act Reauthorization

The long over-due reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) took another step forward last month with the passage of a House reform package. While the partisan bill faces dim prospects in the Senate, it does signal renewed interest in updating the federal workforce system.

Read More on WIA Reauthorization


FY 2013 Funding Agreement Solidifies Sequestration for Now

With a spark of bipartisanship, the House and Senate completed work on their fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding bills before the expiration deadline. H.R. 933, the Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 will provide funding to keep the government operational through the remainder of the fiscal year.

Read More on CR


Gainful Employment Regulations Face Another Legal Setback

The ongoing legal action surrounding ‘gainful employment’ regulations continue to be of keen interest for the community college sector. In March, a federal District Court made yet another ruling jeopardizing the Department of Education’s ability to proceed with gainful employment data collection and enforcement.

Read More on Gainful Employment


ACCT Policy Spotlight

In March, the University Professional & Continuing Education Association, WCET, and the Sloan Consortium conducted a survey to examine the impact of state authorizations on distance learning programs. Of the approximately 200 institutions surveyed, one-third had not applied for the required state authorizations. Other institutions had chosen not to proceed in offering programs in states with costly or complex authorizations. Follow this link to view the survey: What are Institutions Doing (or Not Doing) About State Authorization – Revisited.


March 2013 Newsletter

The Impact of Sequester on Community Colleges

On March 1st, President Obama signed an order to institute across-the-board funding cuts as mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.  The cuts, which were initially supposed to occur on January 2nd, were the result of a failure by Congress and the Administration to come to an agreement to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion.

Read More on Sequestration


House Moving Forward With Reauthorization of WIA

Democratic and Republican Members of the House Education and Workforce Committee have offered competing bills that would reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).  The Republican bill (HR 803), known as the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act, was marked up this week by the full committee.

Read More on the Workforce Investment Act (WIA)


Reinstatement of Ability-to-Benefit Remains a Priority for Community Colleges

As Congress works to extend fiscal year 2013 funding prior to the expiration of the current continuing resolution (CR) on March 27th, the inclusion of a partial restoration of Ability-to-Benefit is still under consideration in the Senate.  ACCT has prepared a letter for individuals to ask their Member of Congress to reinstate partial Ability-to-Benefit eligibility.

Read More on Ability-to-Benefit


Congress Must Address Expiring Funding in the Month Ahead

With current fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding expiring on March 27th, Congress will have to act quickly to come to an agreement on a continuing resolution (CR).  The House has acted first in this endeavor, with the Senate likely taking up their own version of a CR in the next week or two.

Read More on Expiring Funding



January 2013 Newsletter

What the Fiscal Cliff Deal Means for Higher Ed

On January 1st Congress passed legislation to avert tax increases for millions of Americans and delay automatic spending cuts. This deal has many implications for higher education and students.

Read More on Fiscal Cliff


What’s on Tap for Community Colleges in the 113th Congress

The new Congress will have to address several pending reauthorization bills, as well as some new ones.  Additionally, they will face the task of dealing with an impending sequestration, reaching the debt-limit, and both fiscal year (FY) 2013 and 2014 funding.

Read More on 113th Congress


House and Senate Name Committee Chairs and Members

The 113th Congress has convened, and individual committee assignments have been doled out.  While many members will be returning to higher education’s key committees, several new names have emerged as well.

Read More on Committees



December 2012 Newsletter

Fiscal Cliff Drawing Near with No Deal in Sight

A deal remains elusive with a mere 27 days before the nation faces the fiscal cliff.  Without congressional action, the Bush-era tax credits will expire at the end of the year, and two days later automatic spending cuts under sequestration will occur.

Read More on Fiscal Cliff


AOTC and Other Higher Ed Tax Credits Among Those Set to Expire

Among the tax-credits set to expire at the end of the year are several higher education tax credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC).

Read More on Tax Credits


Committee Leadership Begins to Come Together for the 113th Congress

With only a handful of days left in the current Congressional session, announcements are being made in regards to what individuals will be leading committees for the 113th Congress.  While many familiar faces will be returning, retirements, term-limits and lost races have teed up new leadership for some key committees.

Read More on Comittee Leadership


House and Senate Release Calendars for the 113th Congress

The House and Senate have both released their upcoming calendars for the 113th Congress.  Both bodies will convene on January 3rd to swear-in Members for the upcoming session, with the Presidential Inauguration occurring on January 21st.

Read More on 113th Congressional Calendar



November 2012 Newsletter

Community College Outlook in Obama's Second-Term

During the campaign President Obama vocalized strong support for community colleges as an essential part of our education and workforce system. In October, the President released a booklet outlining his second-term agenda entitled the “Blueprint for America’s Future.”  

Read More on Second-Term


Election Results in House and Senate

The Democrats retained control of the Senate on Tuesday with a ratio of 53 to 45 with 2 independents.  There were many hotly contested races in both bodies that have impact outside of just majority control. 

Read More on Election Results


Congress Faces Challenging Agenda for Lame-Duck

The returning lame-duck Congress faces a substantial task before the end of the year in addressing the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, as well as an impending sequestration set to cut many federal programs by more than 8 percent.  

Read More on Lame-Duck



October 2012 Newsletter

ACCT Delivers Federal Update

In preparation for the 2012 ACCT Leadership Congress occurring next week in Boston, ACCT Public Policy Office has prepared a comprehensive update on recent legislative activities in our nation’s capital.  

Read the ACCT Federal Update


OMB Releases More Details on Sequestration


On January 2nd most federal programs are slated to bear significant across-the-board reductions under a process known as sequestration.  The sequester is part of the bipartisan August 2011 Budget Control Act, which raised the nation’s debt limit in exchange for a series of spending cuts.  

Read More on OMB Sequestration


New Estimates for Pell May Put Program on Firmer Ground

The U.S. Department of Education has released preliminary data regarding the cost of the Pell Grant program for the most recent academic year.  While enrollment has gone up slightly, program costs have actually decreased.

Read More on Pell  


Obama vs. Romney - What the Candidates’ Plans Outline for Higher Education

With one month to go before elections, both Presidential candidates have presented their vision for higher education policy and reform. Similarities exist in both platforms where the candidates advocate for better information, allowing students and their families can make informed choices on where to attend college and how to pay for it. 

Read More on Candidate Plans


Congress Passes Continuing Resolution, Punts Funding Debate into New Year

Congress has opted to pass a six-month extension, H.J. Res. 117, to keep the federal government funded well into the New Year.  

Read More on Continuing Resolution



September 2012 Newsletter

Congress Agrees to Deal on Funding Extension

With only a handful of days left on the legislative calendar before November elections, the House and Senate have agreed to a deal to extend funding well into the New Year. By doing so, Congress will avert any last minute funding showdown or government shutdown right before the elections.

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Obama vs. Romney - What the Candidates’ Plans Outline for Higher Education

With two months to go before elections, both Presidential candidates have presented their vision for higher education policy and reform. Similarities exist in both platforms where the candidates advocate for better information so students and their families can make informed choices on where to attend college and how to pay for it. Additionally, both candidates support the idea of working to keep tuition fees and costs more manageable through incentives.

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Deadlines Approaching for Congress to Address Sequestration

Looming on January 2nd, 2013 is a significant across the board cut of most federal discretionary programs set into place by the Budget Control Act. Last fall, the “Super Committee” was appointed to develop a plan that would find $1.2 trillion in revenue either through spending cuts or changes in tax code. Their inability to put forth a plan triggered automatic spending cuts known as sequestration. Barring Congressional action to prevent sequestration, an across-the-board cut to discretionary spending will occur in January, 2013.

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Fate of Expiring Education Tax Benefits Remains Unknown

Following November’s elections, Congress will have to address a number of Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year. Included in those provisions set to expire are several education related tax items. There are currently three tax extension proposals being considered by Congress —one passed by the House, one passed by the full Senate, and one approved by the Senate Finance Committee.

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Dept. of Education to Create Negotiated Rule-Making Panel on Pell Runners and Streamlining Regulations

The Department of Education (ED) has announced its intent to create a negotiated rule-making panel to address the issue of student aid fraud. The panel which is expected to convene later this year will propose:

• New regulations to address organized crime rings that use distance learning programs to collect numerous Pell grants;

• New regulations related to the disbursement of federal student aid funds via debit cards and other banking; and

• Modifying and streamlining existing regulations.

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