White House Seeks Feedback on Higher Education Proposals
House Votes to Repeal State Authorization, Credit Hour Regulations
ACE Urges HHS to Publish Final Student Health Insurance Rules
IN BRIEF: NACUA, ACE Launch Federal Regulations Website; ACE Annual Meeting Day of Service
Before I discuss this week's news, I wanted to let you know that the White House Domestic Policy Council has created an email address for campus officials to share their views directly with presidential staff responsible for higher education issues.
Initially, they hope to get feedback about the administration's college affordability proposals, but they also will monitor the email address for more general comments. I am grateful the White House staff has done this—it represents an unprecedented opportunity for you to communicate with individuals at the highest levels of government. The email address for your comments, reactions and suggestions is HigherEducation@who.eop.gov.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted 303-114 to rescind the Education Department's (ED) new credit hour and state authorization regulations. This is very good news.
The Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act (H.R. 2117) was introduced last June by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. The bill, which we have strongly supported since its debut, has three main provisions:
1. A repeal of the so-called "state authorization" regulation which significantly expands and complicates existing federal requirements for an institution to legally operate within a state.
2. A repeal of the new federal definition of a credit hour.
3. A ban prohibiting the education secretary from promulgating a rule to establish a federal definition of a credit hour in the future.
One amendment offered by Rep. Foxx also passed and would repeal the distinction between "clock hours" and "credit hours" included in the new rule. This distinction would have limited the amount of federal financial aid students enrolled in clock-hour programs could receive.
I want to thank all of you who contacted your congressional representatives to discuss this legislation in the weeks before the vote. The regulations in question are extremely complex and walking through them with your member made a real difference, reflected in the strong and truly bipartisan support the bill received. ACE, in coalition with 98 higher education organizations, sent a letter Monday to House members asking them to vote in favor of the bill. Rep. Foxx cited portions of the letter during the debate and it was featured in the news release announcing the bill's passage, so we know the higher education community's voice was heard.
We must now move our efforts to the Senate. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced a version (S. 1297) of the House measure last June, but so far there has been no action on the bill. However, any influence you can bring to bear on your senators at this point could be helpful in keeping the momentum going.
President Obama issued a Statement of Administration Policy against the bill Monday but has not indicated whether he will veto it if it passes the Senate.
We sent a letter today to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the White House, requesting HHS immediately issue the final version of the proposed rules for Student Health Insurance Coverage (SHIC).
The proposed SHIC rules were published in the Federal Register on Feb. 11, 2011, with comments due by April 12, 2011. More than a year after publication, the final version of these regulations has yet to be issued. As many of you know, this delay is already causing problems for some campuses in their contract negotiations for student health insurance coverage for 2012-13 academic year. In addition, further delay could negatively impact the financial aid packages for incoming students, as future costs are unknown.
The National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) and 20 higher education associations—including ACE—have launched the Higher Education Compliance Alliance website, a resource to help our members better understand the ever-growing number of federal regulations for higher education institutions. As we all know, these regulations touch every facet of college and university operations, from employment law to export controls; international programs to student affairs; tax issues to accreditation. Aggregating compliance news and resources from participating associations, government agencies and other sites like the Catholic University of America's (DC) Campus Legal Information Clearinghouse, the new site is designed to be a continuously updated resource for administrators and others on campus seeking to understand their compliance obligations. My thanks to NACUA for spearheading this effort.
I am looking forward to seeing you all next week at ACE's 94th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. This year, we are planning something a little different for the conclusion of the meeting: an afternoon of service to the community that is hosting the event. "Leaders That Serve: ACE Service to the Community" is scheduled for March 13 from 2:00-6:00 p.m. Participants will be asked to help an early childhood center, a community center or a safe place for the working poor and homeless so wear comfortable clothes. A University of Southern California (USC) tram will pick you up at 2:00 p.m. and take you to the site. Once your commitment has concluded, USC is hosting a reception as a way of thanking you. A tram will return you to the J.W. Marriott by 6:00 p.m.
Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE