"Super Committee" Down to the Wire; Student Aid Alliance Delivers 100,000 Signatures
Congress Moves on FY 2012 Appropriations Process, Extends Continuing Resolution
Call for Nominations: ACE Commissions on Leadership, Inclusion and Lifelong Learning
IN BRIEF: HED Announces Partnership Opportunities in Tunisia, Philippines; President's Honor Roll Applications Available; Loyola Chicago Posts Pell Grant Video
With less than a week to the Nov. 23 deadline, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction continues to labor in the face of gridlock, strongly suggesting failure is on the horizon.
The appropriate mix of tax hikes and entitlement cuts continues to be at the center of disagreement in the search for consensus on a $1.2 trillion, 10-year deficit-reduction package. Republicans are using Sen. Pat Toomey's (R-PA) plan, which would trade $300 billion in tax revenues in exchange for making the Bush-era tax cuts permanent, as the basis of their negotiations. However, as most observers note, that proposal is a nonstarter for Democrats, who continue to push for tax increases on high earners.
The House and Senate will adjourn for the Thanksgiving holiday today, but as National Journal points out, the Super Committee rules do not require the chambers to be in session in order for the panel to vote on a report if an agreement is reached. There has been talk that the committee will hold a public hearing early next week, which could either be the forum to vote out a report or to explain publicly why they failed. I will send around a brief note before the holiday to update you on what the outcome means for our institutions and students moving forward.
For our part, the Student Aid Alliance (SAA) yesterday delivered the statement of support for federal student aid funding that so many of you have signed over the past few weeks. To date, the statement has garnered more than 100,000 signatures, which is overwhelming testimony to the importance of federal student aid to students, families and campuses. The SAA, a coalition of higher education organizations I chair along with David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, advocates continued federal support of Pell Grants and other federal student aid programs, including Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Work-Study, Perkins Loans, Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnerships, TRIO, GEAR UP and federal student loans.
The statement and website will remain open for new signatures as the Super Committee continues its deliberations. Users can also send letters directly to members of Congress from the site.
Facing another budgetary deadline, Congress this week gave final approval to a partial funding bill for FY 2012 which included another continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running through Dec. 16.
The Senate yesterday sent President Obama a package of several spending bills, popularly known as a "minibus" (as opposed to an "omnibus" bill, which would encompass all remaining appropriations bills waiting approval) as well as the CR. Senate action on the bill, which passed 70-30, came a few hours after the House passed the package 298-121. The president signed the measure this morning.
As I wrote to you last month, the minibus measure includes funding for three of the 12 appropriations bills: Commerce-Justice-Science (which includes the National Science Foundation and NASA), Agriculture and Transportation-Housing. The bill increases rather than cuts research funding, providing $17.8 billion for NASA and $7 billion for the National Science Foundation, $173 million above FY 2011. For those of you following patent issues, the Commerce Department portion of the bill provides $2.7 billion for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which is the full requested level. The bill also includes language that allows USPTO to keep and use any excess fees it collects, subject to congressional approval of spending plans.
The CR will fund the government through Dec. 16 (the current CR expires at midnight tonight). As efforts to construct a second minibus have stalled, Congress will likely craft an omnibus measure when it returns from Thanksgiving, and we should finally have some idea of where we'll be with student aid funding for the 2012-13 academic year.
You may remember that both the proposed House and Senate measures assume the maximum Pell Grant will remain at $5,550 for the 2012-13 academic year. However, to help finance this level of Pell, the House would make eligibility changes that would eliminate Pell Grants for roughly 600,000 students. Meanwhile, the Senate would like to make a change in the student loan program that would increase the cost of loans slightly for all borrowers. In anticipation of Labor-Health and Human Services-Education funding being finalized for FY 2012, we sent a letter to House Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) yesterday outlining our major concerns.
ACE is now accepting nominations for appointments to three of its recently restructured advisory commissions: the Commission on Leadership, the Commission on Inclusion and the Commission on Lifelong Learning. The commissions will advise ACE on various mission-related issues and guide the Council in initiating new programs and policies.
Commission members are selected based on many factors, including ACE's desire to represent the full range of our membership, involve member presidents who have not previously participated in ACE activities, and appoint members with specialized knowledge or interests. While the majority of commission members will be sitting ACE member presidents or chancellors, the ACE Board of Directors has agreed the involvement of other senior leaders will ensure the process more closely models the decision-making process on campus and guarantee a wider spectrum of expertise is represented.
Terms will be for three years, with the initial terms staggered to ensure smooth rotation.
Click here to download the form to nominate either a colleague or yourself. Nominations are due by Dec. 5 and can be submitted to Hadja Bangura via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or faxed to (202) 833-5696. Please indicate whether the nomination is for a particular commission or is a general recommendation for membership on any commission.
Higher Education for Development (HED), which is managed by ACE on behalf of the six presidential associations, has issued a request for applications for two higher education partnerships at Tunisian institutions and one in the Philippines. HED anticipates making two awards of up to $500,000 each for the three-year partnerships in Tunisia, which will focus on improving work force development programs at Tunisian institutions. The application deadline is Feb. 15, 2012. It also expects to make one award of up to $1,071,500 for three years for a partnership between a higher education institution(s) in the United States and Southern Christian College (SCC) in Mindanao, Philippines. The application deadline for that partnership is Feb. 29, 2012.
Each year, the president of the United States recognizes higher education institutions that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities through service with the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. By being named to the President's Honor Roll, your institution will be recognized as a role model in community service for the higher education sector. Applications for the 2012 President's Honor Roll are currently being accepted. The deadline for 2012 Honor Roll submissions is Dec. 9, 2011 and winners will be announced on March 12, 2012, at ACE's Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, CA. To find out more about eligibility requirements, recognition levels and application requirements, visit http://myproject.nationalservice.gov/honorroll/ or the Honor Roll Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/nationalservice.
Lastly this week, I wanted to share with you a video from Loyola University Chicago touting the importance of Pell Grants. Click here to see the Pell Yes! video on YouTube. Our thanks to Loyola Chicago and Phil Hale, vice president for government affairs, for spreading the word.
Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE