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President to President

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

President to President, June 25-29, 2012

Vol. 13, No. 22

  • ​Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act
  • Congress Approves Measure to Freeze Student Loan Interest Rate for One Year
  • Deadline to Agree to Comply With VA Principles of Excellence Extended to Aug. 1; Sens. Burr, Enzi Ask Administration to Clarify Principles
  • Education Department Releases First Gainful Employment Report
  • ACE Releases Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses
  • IN BRIEF: ACE Board Approves Resolution on Assessment and Accountability; Land-grant Institutions Celebrate 150 Years

The Supreme Court yesterday ruled 5-4 that President Obama's signature overhaul of the nation's health care system—the Affordable Care Act—is constitutional, including the mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance.

In the ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts said the requirement that individuals purchase health coverage or pay a penalty (known as the individual mandate) is within Congress' power to impose taxes. In addition, a majority of the court said Congress can expand Medicaid, but can't strip states of all their Medicaid funds if they fail to participate in that expansion.

The decision means nothing changes for colleges and universities—they must continue to implement the act as employers, and where they provide student health insurance, they must continue to do so. Institutions have been diligently preparing for the effective date of the act and yesterday's decision means that work has not been in vain. For the 30-plus institutions that provide student health coverage on a self-funded basis, the decision does not resolve whether and how they are to comply with the Affordable Care Act. However, we continue to believe that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will provide regulatory guidance to those institutions in the near future. (Click here for a summary of the HHS final regulations on plans provided by institutions through a health insurance company.)

We will continue to review the court's decision and update you on any other relevant portions.

After weeks of negotiations, Senate Democrats and Republicans reached a $6.7 billion deal this week to prevent the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans from doubling this Sunday, July 1. The measure will spare an estimated 7.4 million students who get subsidized Stafford loans from paying an average of $1,000 more in interest costs over the lives of their loans.

Facing the looming deadline, congressional leaders decided to package the student loan measure with a bill overhauling the nation's transportation programs. The House approved the final measure this afternoon by a vote of 373-52, and the Senate followed shortly afterward, 74-19.

The disagreement over how to pay for the rate freeze, which had stalled the bill over the past several months, was resolved in part by a proposal to impose new limits on loans—six years on students in programs that typically can be finished in four years, and three years for students in two-year programs.

The rate freeze is effective for one year, so this is only a temporary reprieve.

We received a letter today from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), notifying campuses that the deadline to express intent to comply with the "Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members" has been extended from June 30 to Aug. 1.

ACE, the National Association of College and University Business Officers and 11 other higher education groups sent a letter last week to the agencies expressing concern about the lack of clarity in the principles as currently written and the practical ramifications for institutions. Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) sent a letter to the departments of Education, Defense and Veterans Affairs this week, echoing our concerns and requesting that the June 30 deadline for institutions to agree to comply be delayed or repealed and that institutions be given more details about implementation. They also explicitly directed the agencies to answer immediately the questions we raised in our letter.

Institutions can communicate their intent to comply by sending an email to principles.excellence@va.gov. Colleges and universities that have notified VA of their intent to comply will be identified on www.gibill.va.gov starting July 2, but that list will continue to be updated on a weekly basis to recognize schools as they respond.

Our sincere thanks to Sens. Burr and Enzi for taking the time to weigh in on this important matter.

The Education Department (ED) this week released the first report on the career education programs that have failed to meet ED's minimum standards for student success after graduation, known as "gainful employment."

The gainful employment regulations, part of the series of rules ED released in 2010 on Title IV student financial aid program integrity, seek to ensure that those who enroll in some higher education programs will earn enough money to repay their student loans. In general, the rules apply to all programs at for-profit schools and to all non-degree programs at traditional colleges and universities.

Five percent of all such programs were cited on the list. Vocational and certificate programs that fail to meet any of the minimum standards—35 percent of graduates in active loan repayment, a 12 percent debt-to-income ratio for a typical graduate, or a 30 percent ratio of debt to discretionary income for a typical graduate—in three out of four years will lose eligibility for federal financial aid programs if they do not improve. This initial effort is intended to be advisory, letting institutions know where they stand, and there are no short-term consequences for appearing on the list.

ACE this week released the third edition of Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses, which found that although many perceive that on-campus efforts to globalize have increased recently, the reality is more complicated.

The report, based on a survey answered by more than 1,000 institutions across all sectors, examines six aspects of the Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement's model for comprehensive internationalization on campus. These criteria include articulated institutional commitment, administrative structure and staffing, curriculum, co-curriculum and learning outcomes, faculty policies and practices, student mobility, and collaboration and/or partnerships. You'll find good coverage in Inside Higher Ed, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The report, survey instruments, a fast facts document and the data tables are all available for download. This effort would not have been possible without the more than 1,000 survey responses we received. My thanks to you and your staff for completing the questionnaire last fall.

IN BRIEF

The ACE Board of Directors recently approved a resolution endorsing the Guidelines for Assessment and Accountability in Higher Education presented by the New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability. As the resolution states, the guidelines include four principles that ACE supports: the importance of (1) articulating specific goals for student learning and prominently announcing them to various stakeholders and the public, (2) developing processes to gather evidence of student learning, (3) using that evidence to improve quality in student learning, and (4) reporting to internal and external constituents the evidence and results of student learning.

Finally this week, I would like to congratulate and recognize all of our land-grant institution members on their 150-year anniversary, which was celebrated this week with a variety of events in Washington. I was honored to participate in a gathering of presidents Monday on the National Mall to commemorate the 1862 passage of the Morrill Act, which laid the groundwork for the more than 100 land-grant universities that currently serve our nation. The celebration continues at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which begins this weekend and runs through July 8. If you're in town, please plan a visit.

President to President will return after the Independence Day congressional recess.

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE