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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 27-July 1, 2011

Vol. 12, No. 25

  • ED College Cost Lists Now Available
  • Senate Bill to Repeal Credit Hour, State Authorization Regulations Introduced
  • Senate Subcommittee Hearing on DREAM Act
  • IN BRIEF: Patent Reform Update; Former ACE President David Ward Named UW-Madison Interim Chancellor

First this week, the Department of Education's long-awaited college cost lists were released yesterday, and the results were not unexpected.

I hope you were all able to access the two-day preview of the lists given by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). I feel confident from what I saw in the papers yesterday that there were no big surprises, and those of you who needed to discuss the lists with the media were prepared to do so. It is our belief these lists could be a helpful part of the conversation about college costs, although there is a lot of information to wade through and it is possible they will be more confusing than enlightening.

Please note institutions on two of the lists will be required to provide reports to the secretary of education explaining the price increases and identifying steps to reduce them in the future. These include the top 5 percent of institutions with the largest percentage change in tuition and fees over the three previous academic years and the top 5 percent of institutions with the largest percentage change in net price over the three previous academic years. This information will be summarized in an annual report to Congress and published on the College Navigator website.

The department has said further information about submitting these reports will be forthcoming. I will alert you when it is available.

Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) on Wednesday introduced the Senate version of the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act (H.R. 2117), the House bill that would rescind the credit hour and state authorization regulations that go into effect today.

As with the House bill, the Senate measure (S. 1297) 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; and 3) a ban prohibiting the education secretary from promulgating a rule to establish a federal definition of a credit hour in the future.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce voted 27-11 on June 15 to approve H.R. 2117, which was introduced by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chair of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training. I greatly appreciate the advocacy many of you did on the House measure—I believe it made a great difference between a bill that might have quietly died in committee and one that now has relatively high visibility and bipartisan support. We will now turn our attention to the Senate measure, and I urge you to do the same.

For more information about how to talk to your senators about this bill, see our community letters (click here and here) in support of the measure, as well as this April 26 letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We also have drafted talking points for assistance in preparing your approach. Please let us know if you need any further information about the legislation or the regulations under examination.

A Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Tuesday held the first-ever hearing on the DREAM Act, the 10-year-old bill designed to give undocumented young people brought to the United States as children a path to higher education and citizenship.

The Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security heard testimony from Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and others on the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2011 (S. 952). The measure was introduced in the Senate on May 11 by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL).

This version of the DREAM Act is similar to previous iterations, all of which ACE and many in the higher education community have supported. It would override a provision in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 which forbids states from giving benefits to people that are not given to all U.S. residents, and therefore would allow states to offer in-state tuition to undocumented students. It also would establish a six-year conditional permanent residency status for students who were brought to this country by age 15 or younger, have been here at least five years as of the enactment date, have graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a GED test credential and have passed a background check. DREAM-eligible individuals would qualify for permanent residency after six years by completing at least two years of higher education or of military service.

On behalf of a coalition of higher education associations, I submitted a statement to the subcommittee in advance of the hearing, urging that S. 952 be enacted this year. Although chances of passage remain dim in this Congress, we appreciate the diligence of Sen. Durbin and other backers of the bill on what we believe to be a common-sense contribution to our national goal of returning the United States to world leadership in higher education attainment.

IN BRIEF

As I reported last week, the House on June 28 approved the America Invents Act (H.R. 1249), a bill to overhaul the country's patent system. The Senate passed its version (S. 23) of patent reform in March, so the next step is for either the Senate to approve the House bill or for a House/Senate conference committee to be appointed. We sent a letter to the Senate this week encouraging the former. According to The Hill, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wants to go this route and send the House bill to President Obama for his signature. For his part, at a press conference this week the president called on Congress to send him legislation, saying it is something they could do "right now."

Lastly this week, I was pleased to learn former ACE President David Ward has accepted the position of interim chancellor for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As you may know, from 1993-2000, David served as chancellor at UW-Madison before coming to ACE. He was a wonderful leader of ACE and I know you'll join me in wishing him well.

Molly Corbett Broad
President of ACE