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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.