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

Defense Department Releases Final MOU for Tuition Assistance Program

May 12-16 ~ Vol. 15, No. 16

  • DoD Releases Final MOU for Tuition Assistance Program
  • Briefs Due June 26 in Northwestern University Athletes Unionization Case
  • Senate HELP Committee Looks at Minority Serving Institutions and Student Success
  • IN BRIEF: Booker Introduces Student Financial Aid Simplification Act

The Department of Defense has published the final memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the Tuition Assistance (TA) program. Colleges and universities will need to sign the MOU to participate in the program.

We are still examining the details of the rule, which was released yesterday, and will provide more information next week. The draft rule issued last year contained some provisions that we were concerned about and we submitted comments asking for clarification on several points.

The new MOU was written in response to the Obama administration’s April 2012 “Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses and Other Family Members.” This was an effort to make certain that service members have the information, support and protections they need to receive a quality postsecondary education, as well as ensure proper oversight of TA dollars.

All institutions participating in the TA program, even if they have signed an earlier iteration of the MOU, will need to sign the latest version.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced this week it was accepting briefs to address issues raised by the recent decision by one of its regional directors to classify Northwestern University (IL) football players with athletic scholarships as employees under the National Labor Relations Act.

On April 24, the NLRB granted Northwestern’s request for review of the decision. Northwestern players voted April 25 on whether to unionize, but the ballots are impounded for now and will only be opened if the board rules for the players, a decision that could take months. ACE plans to file an amicus brief on behalf of Northwestern. The brief will make a number of points, including some in this letter I sent May 7 to Rep. John Kline (R-MN), the chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, which last week held a hearing on this issue.

Briefs will be accepted through June 26.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee heard testimony Tuesday on “Strengthening Minority Serving Institutions: Best Practices and Innovations for Student Success.”

Witnesses shared stories about the programs and policies that are helping their institutions and students thrive and described how the continued success of minority serving institutions is critical for realizing our nation’s higher education and workforce goals. In his testimony, United Negro College Fund (UNCF) President and CEO Michael Lomax discussed the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA)—which expired at the end of 2013—saying that it presents an important opportunity to develop a holistic approach to moving more students to and through college, particularly students of color.

UNCF’s policy recommendations for renewing the HEA included reinvesting in and modernizing the Pell Grant and Parent PLUS Loan programs, establishing a universal and automatic Income-based Student Loan Repayment System and recognizing “degree of difficulty” in the Obama administration’s proposed college rating system.

Also among the witnesses were President Eloy Ortiz Oakley of Long Beach City College (CA) and President John Bassett of Heritage University (WA).

For more information and a webcast of the hearing, see the committee website.

IN BRIEF

We sent a letter to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) Wednesday supporting his recently introduced bill, the Simplifying Financial Aid for Students Act of 2014. This legislation would change the determination of eligibility for federal financial aid by incorporating the use of two years of prior income tax data and restoring the auto-zero calculation for Expected Family Contribution to an income of $30,000. These modifications would significantly benefit the neediest students by both streamlining the application process and ensuring these students receive the maximum possible aid available.

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE