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President to President
Molly Corbett Broad's weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders.

President to President: ACE Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee on DoD Tuition Assistance Program

June 10-14, 2013 ~ Vol. 14, No. 18

  • ACE Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee on DoD Tuition Assistance Program 
  • Senate Moves Forward on Immigration Bill; Debate Expected to Last a Month 
  • House Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Accreditation
  • ED to Hold New Round of Rulemaking on Gainful Employment
  • IN BRIEF: White House Convenes Discussion on Mental Health; Aspen and Achieve the Dream to Hold Forum on the Community College Presidency; Applications Now Being Accepted for ACE's At Home in the World Institute

The Department of Defense's (DoD) Tuition Assistance (TA) program is once again in the spotlight, as the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee held a hearing Wednesday on how to improve the standards for participation in and oversight of voluntary military education programs.

ACE Senior Vice President Terry W. Hartle told senators a balance is needed between protecting service members and taxpayers and ensuring that program requirements don't keep institutions from participating. ACE supports efforts to ensure appropriate oversight and protections for TA funds and the service members who use the benefit. But as Terry reminded lawmakers, TA is not a simple program to administer on campus, and it is becoming more complex.

The TA program provided benefits in FY 2012 of $568.2 million to more than 286,000 service members at more than 3,100 institutions—nearly 1,900 of which are public or non-profit institutions. As you may remember, after sequestration cuts went into effect March 1, the Army, Air Force and Marines all suspended their TA programs. But they were reinstated in April after Congress voted to order DoD to locate the necessary funding.

Also testifying were James Selbe, senior vice president for partnerships, marketing, and enrollment management at the University of Maryland University College; Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities; Frederick Vollrath, assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management; and Christopher Neiweem, an Iraq war veteran.

For more information on the hearing, see The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Senate voted 84-15 Wednesday to move forward on considering its comprehensive, bipartisan plan to overhaul the nation's immigration system, setting up what is expected to be a month-long debate on the bill.

The centerpiece of the legislation, drafted by four Democrats and four Republicans, is a 13-year path to citizenship for many of the 11 million people now in the country without legal status. This path would be expedited for DREAM Act students. The bill also includes beefed up rules on student visas and an increased number of H1-B visas for highly skilled workers.

The version of the DREAM Act included in the measure removes the age cap for eligibility, repeals the current federal law that limits states' options to provide in-state tuition to undocumented students and allows DREAM Act students to qualify for federal loans and work-study. We have long supported this plan—which has been in the works since 2001—and are carefully watching it as the bill proceeds.

The House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Higher Education heard testimony Thursday on achieving "Quality Programs Through Accreditation," part of the groundwork the committee is doing to prepare for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, which expires at the end of 2013.

A number of proposals to reform the system and models for alternative systems were advanced in the wide-ranging discussion, including delinking accreditation from student aid programs and moving to more outcome-focused measures. New technologies, the rise of MOOCs and changing student demographics also raised many questions for the panel to consider and likely will be a primary focus as the process moves forward.

To read the testimony and view a webcast of the hearing, see the subcommittee's website.

The Education Department (ED) has announced plans for a new round of negotiated rulemaking on gainful employment regulations this fall, alongside a broader rule-making session on other issues, including state authorization.

As you might remember, a federal judge previously blocked parts of the gainful employment rule proposed in 2011, which would have pulled federal student aid from career education programs whose graduates had high debt-to-income ratios and slow loan repayments. ED's appeal of the ruling was denied in March and the department declined further appeals, apparently deciding instead to craft a new set of rules in this area.

Nominations for negotiators to serve on the committee must be submitted on or before July 12.

IN BRIEF

Last week, the White House convened a valuable conversation about mental health that brought together practitioners, policymakers, nonprofit leaders, as well as representatives of higher education. If you have not already, I encourage you to visit www.mentalhealth.gov, a clearinghouse of resources on the federal level. In addition, ACE is joining with the American Psychological Association and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators to create a resource guide for campuses that will review current trends and offer examples from our campuses of practices that promote student well being.

In addition to the resources above, I wanted to make you aware of a new program from The Jed Foundation to help institutions evaluate their mental health and suicide prevention programming. JedCampus provides an online self-assessment survey, with feedback, that colleges and universities can use to assess and possibly enhance programming in these important areas. Institutions whose survey results indicate the presence of comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention programming will be awarded a JedCampus seal. All other elements of the program are confidential, and JedCampus will not publish the names of institutions that do not receive a seal. If you are interested in learning more about this program, I encourage you to pass along this information to your counseling and student affairs staff.

I hope those of you in the Washington, DC, area will consider joining me at an event hosted by Achieving the Dream and the Aspen Institute for a discussion of their new report, Crisis and Opportunity: Aligning the Community College Presidency with Student Success. The event is scheduled for June 21 from 11:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at the Aspen Institute's offices at One Dupont Circle. Jumpstarting the conversation will be nationally recognized leaders in higher education reform, including Lenore Rodicio, vice provost of Miami Dade College; Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia College (FL); Bob Templin, president of Northern Virginia Community College; and Jean Desravines, CEO of New Leaders. To RSVP, contact Christian Arana at christian.arana@aspeninstitute.org or (202) 736-5834 by June 19.

I would like to encourage your institution to participate in ACE's At Home in the World Institute, which is designed to stimulate the collaborative process between internationalization and diversity/multicultural education efforts in higher education. The interactive Institute will provide participants with useful resources and insights on promising practices as explored in ACE's At Home in the World project. Please visit the website to learn more and register ahead of the July 19 early registration deadline.

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE