Few Changes Expected to Federal Foreign Gift and Contract Reporting Requirements
May 15, 2023

​The Department of Education (ED) has issued a response to the comments received on the December 2022 information collection request on Section 117 of the Higher Education Act (HEA), which mandates that higher education institutions report any foreign gifts or contracts worth over $250,000.

The department said that it would be making only limited changes to the final reporting requirements and that it would not be conducting a formal rulemaking process, stating that rulemaking was only mandatory for programs under Title IV of the HEA.

ED plans to shift the primary responsibility for administering Section 117 from the Office of the General Counsel to Federal Student Aid, where it was before the Trump administration. The Section 117 website has already been updated to reflect that move.

While ACE and the higher education community support that move, they believe the department is overstepping its authority in a number of other areas and that the process itself remains burdensome for campuses.

ACE continues to urge the department to go through a formal rulemaking process on Section 117, which would allow for informed discussion and provide greater clarity for institutions. While all stakeholders share a strong interest in safeguarding the integrity of government-funded research and protecting academic freedom and free speech from foreign influence, ACE believes the rulemaking process is the best option to get there.

“They said that negotiated rulemaking is only required for programs under Title IV [of the Higher Education Act of 1965],” ACE Vice President Sarah Spreitzer told Inside Higher Ed in an interview last week. “That doesn’t mean that the department can’t carry out rulemaking.

ED is now planning to finalize the reporting requirements, and has released a final information collection request with comments due on June 5. ACE will work with the other higher education associations to provide community comments.

The next deadline for Section 117 reports is July 31.