Congress Springs Forward and Passes Spending Bill; New Regulations Coming


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Aired March 25, 2022

ACE Senior Vice President Terry Hartle joins host Sarah Spreitzer to discuss Congress’s last-minute push to pass the FY 2022 omnibus spending package and what it means for higher education. Also on the agenda—which proposals Department of Education negotiators reached consensus on in the latest negotiated rulemaking session. Plus, they talk about higher ed’s priorities for innovation and competition legislation, how the United States is supporting Ukrainian students, and the resumption of student loan repayments.

Here are some of the links and references from this week’s show:

Biden Signs Major Spending Bill That Includes $400 Increase for Pell Grants

DHS, State Announce Regulatory Changes to Attract More International Students and Scholars

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Actions to Attract STEM Talent and Strengthen our Economy and Competitiveness
White House

Supreme Court Takes Affirmative Action Cases
Inside Higher Ed | Jan. 24, 2022


 Read this episode's transcript

Sarah Spreitzer: Hello, and welcome to dotEDU, the higher education policy podcast. I'm your host, Sarah Spreitzer, assistant vice president in government relations here at the American Council on Education.

Unfortunately, both my co-hosts, Jonathan Fansmith and Mushtaq Gunja, have ditched me this recording to carry out various spring break activities. Hopefully, they are somewhere warm, and listening to this podcast.

In this episode, we have our monthly check-in with our senior vice president, Terry Hartle. Just a reminder, if you're interested in attending one of these live public policy updates with Terry, feel free to e-mail, to be added to the mailing list. Thank you for joining us.

Now, sit back and hear what Terry has to say about topics such as the FY '22 Omnibus, the outlook for President Biden's FY23 budget request, the outlook for the US Innovation and Competition Act and the America Competes Act, and other issues of interest.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to our March Public Policy Pop-Up here at the American Council on Education. I'm Sarah Spreitzer, an assistant vice president in government relations here at ACE, and I'm joined by our senior vice president, Terry Hartle.

Unfortunately, our other co-host, Jon Fansmith, is not with us today. I don't know, Terry, maybe he's off looking at the cherry blossoms, which I believe just peaked this week.

Terry Hartle: They did just peak this week, and I think that would be a fine thing for Jon to be doing today.

Sarah Spreitzer: Let's get started by talking a bit about what actually happened last week, which was the passage of the FY '22 Omnibus. Terry, do you want to talk a bit about what was in there for higher education?

Terry Hartle: Sure. We've been talking for the last couple of months, about three pieces of legislative activity with implications for higher education, and sort of wondering how these would emerge.

One we've been talking about, of course, is the fiscal year 2022 spending bill, fiscal year started October 1st. It wasn't until last week that Congress approved, and the President signed, a spending bill to keep all the federal agencies operating.

The appropriations process was okay for higher education, I think, in general, we saw, with a couple of exceptions that are notable. We saw increases of about three or 4% percentage points across the board. These are numbers that are just fine.

Given, however, the Biden Administration's commitment to higher education scientific research, and given the hopes that the administration had encouraged, the numbers were not as good as we had hoped. So it's a split decision on appropriations this year. About $3 billion more for higher education in the Department of Education's budget, that's about three billion, out of roughly 120 billion.

Funding for Pell grants, up $400, it will now be roughly $6,900. That is the largest increase in years. That money will be available for our students this coming fall, the fall of 2022. We expect the Department of Education to actually release the payment schedules for that later this week.

In addition, we saw a substantial boost in funding for HBCUs, tribal colleges, and minority serving institutions. Funding for those three types of institutions up about $96 million, it'll total about 885 million for the three types of institutions.

Those numbers have been moving steadily higher, because those institutions enjoy bipartisan bicameral support. A $96 million increase works out to about 12 percentage points for those three programs.

This is obviously very welcome news. In addition, the legislation made clear that those institutions will have continued flexibility in the spending of their COVID relief funds that have not already been spent.

So we're very pleased with that. But in general, for things like work/study TRIO, GEAR UP, work/study supplemental grants, we saw modest, but not remarkable increases, in federal spending.

On the research front, the big winner was the National Institutes of Health, a $2 billion increase in NIH, that will take the agency's funding level to about $45 billion. One billion of that $2 billion increase is for ARPA research.

This is a new initiative at the NIH. It's going to be modeled after the ARPA program at the Department of Defense, that has successfully developed new technologies, and has been very popular on Capitol Hill. So we will see that set up in the coming year. Exactly how that will work, how the money will be allocated, remains to be seen. But overall, NIH, a $2 billion increase.

National Science Foundation has got an increase of $350 million. This will take it to about $8.9 billion in spending at NSF, a 4% increase.

I think NSF is a good model for why we have sort of mixed feelings about the particular funding levels for much of the 2022 year. The President had proposed 10.2 billion for the National Science Foundation. The House had awarded 9.6 billion, the Senate 9.5 billion. At the end of the day, NSF ends up being about 8.85.

That's not supposed to happen. The range of negotiations is supposed to be between where the House and Senate settled, but that didn't work out to be the case in this year. Still, we're looking at a 4% increase, which we will certainly be happy with, not as happy as we would otherwise have been.

We are now at the point where we'll start talking with you about the fiscal year 2023 appropriations process. The President has still not released the budget for fiscal year 2023, that's scheduled to happen next week, I think, on March 28th.

What do we know about the budget? We know that the President and the State of the Union address promised a $2,000 increase in the maximum Pell grant, something we will be strongly supportive of.

The President also indicated that he would recommend another significant round of funding increase is for Historically Black Colleges, tribal colleges, and minority serving institutions. Exactly what that amount will be, we will have to wait and see.

Now, the big question here, of course, is whether Congress is likely to act on the President's 2023 budget before the November election. Generally, you would say, they're not likely to make that deadline, particularly given what a late start they're getting. They're already about two months behind in considering the coming year's budget.

However, one of the issues here is that Democrats realize they might lose control of the House, and/or the Senate, in the November election. So they might be much more anxious to try and move forward on the spending bills than would otherwise be the case.

For exactly that same reason, of course, Republicans might be less interested in moving forward with the 2023 spending bills. So stay tuned. We've got the 2022 spending bill out of the way, we've got the 2023 spending bill on deck.

Now, Sarah, over the last couple of months, we've talked a lot with our friends who are with us about the spending bills. We've also talked about Build Back Better, which remains in a coma. Nothing seems to be happening on that front, but we've also talked to them a lot about the effort to increase research funding, and substantially increase research security, as part of the legislation that passed the Senate last year, known as USICA, and the legislation that passed the House earlier this year, known as Competes.

Those are both 2,500-page bills. It looks like they might be getting ready to move to a conference setting, to try and reconcile the differences. You want to take it from there?

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah, perfect timing, Terry, because we actually just got a question about the Competes Act. And the Senate this week is actually spending their time with procedural motion to actually move USICA over to the House, to have a formal conference.

We know that the two bills, which are massive, they're both over 2,500 pages long, are going to take some time to actually conference. We sent a letter yesterday to Congressional leadership, as well as the various committees that we believe will be involved in the conference sections around our priorities for the bill.

Folks have probably heard me talking about these issues before, but they remain the issues that we've talked about previously. The provision that would require the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US to review contracts or gifts over a million dollars to colleges and universities, we are asking that be struck in the conference.

Both bills would make changes to Section 117 foreign gift reporting by lowering the threshold. The Senate bill would lower the reporting threshold from 250,000 to $50,000. And the House bill would lower that reporting threshold to 100,000, or keep it at 250,000, for gifts received over a three-year period. We are asking that the Senate cede to the House on that language.

On the new section, 124, which is included in both with bills, it would require some institutions of higher education to create and maintain databases, to capture gifts to individual faculty and staff. The Senate bill does not have any reporting threshold for that provision. The House bill has $50,000 as the reporting threshold.

So we are asking that, again, the Senate cede to the house. There's other things included in those bills, including a reauthorization of the Title VI international programs, which many of our members are interested in.

The House bill contains a few provisions that were included, because really, they're Democratic priorities, that Democrats have been unable to move in other pieces of legislation. Specifically, I think, for the higher education community, we're very supportive of the immigration provisions that are included in the House Competes bill.

This would allow for some flexibility for graduates with a STEM degree, either a master's, or a PhD program, to make it a little easier to get a green card in the United States. We think that's really important for recruiting international students. And it would also be very helpful for keeping international students that we've educated here in the country.

But it's unclear, right, whether or not the Senate is actually going to accept those additional priorities that are included in the House bill. And timing wise, we're hearing that this could drag out into the summer, with a possible date of July 4th, being a goal for actually finishing everything, wrapping it up, and sending it to the President for his signature.

Terry Hartle: Yeah, I would think July 4th would be an optimistic timeframe. Combining two 2,500-page bills into a single document is always going to be a challenge. And in the House of Representatives, it'll be 14 separate committees that will have to conference part of this bill.

So this is something we'll be talking about for awhile. There'll be a lot of rumors about it. At the end of the day, Sarah, what we can say is, there's a good chance we will see legislation emerge from this process, because this is a bipartisan, bicameral priority, particularly of interest of the Senate Majority Leader.

I think the situation with Ukraine and Russia has only increased interest in addressing issues related to technology, security and cybersecurity. So I think that probably will be another impetus to get it done. We might, at the end of the day, see more money for scientific research come out of this.

Certainly, more money will be promised. Whether it will actually be delivered remains to be seen, but excuse me, we should expect to see more regulation of research security and technology on college campuses and across every industry in the country.

So we'll be continue to be watching this. It's going to be around for a while. Don't get your hopes up for anything happening quickly.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah. And I would say Terry, Congress isn't just following issues around China and research security closely, but you mentioned Ukraine, and the conflict with Russia, and actions being taken. In the recently passed Omnibus, there was around $13.6 billion that was included for humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine. None of those dollars is yet being directed towards refugees coming to the United States, but it's obviously at the top of Congress's mind.

Here at ACE, we've been talking a lot to our institutions about supporting our Ukrainian students. We know that they're around 1,700 Ukrainian students here in the United States. We sent a letter to the Department of State and to the Department of Homeland Security a few weeks ago, asking for flexibility for those Ukrainian students who may be here under student visas. Once your program of study ends, you're meant to return. And we're very worried that those students, who may be graduating in May, would find it unsafe to return to Ukraine.

The Department of Homeland Security responded, and announced a temporary protected status for Ukrainians that have been in the United States before March 1st, which we're very grateful for. And we think we'll give flexibility for those students that perhaps think it may be unsafe to return. And then Terry, we have around ...

Terry Hartle: Sarah, I was just going to say, I think we ought to give a hat tip to the Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security, who have both really tried very hard to reestablish something like normal order, with respect to international students and foreign scholars coming to the US.

They've been very receptive to the suggestions we've made. They've reached out to us, asked for ideas, tested proposals with us. We really couldn't ask, I don't think, for better partners than we've had over the last 15 months from the administration in this area.

Sarah Spreitzer: Yeah, that's very true, Terry. I would say, in regards to that, they are already thinking about Russian students, who may want to travel to the United States to study. Currently, there are travel restrictions around certain Russians from entering the US, but right now, there's nothing targeting specifically students, but our consulates are closed, or they're not processing visas in Russia right now.

The State Department shared with us that they are giving priority to Russian applicants in neighboring countries, including Kazakhstan and Armenia. They're already thinking ahead, right, to the summer and to the fall, when we see visas being processed.

That's very helpful. So we will be continuing to follow those issues very, very closely, providing support for our institutions and for our international students as that ongoing situation develops.

​Terry, I thought I'd say a bit about the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization that passed as part of the Omnibus that you spoke about at the beginning. Folks may be familiar with the Violence Against Women Act, it's been around for awhile. This was a reauthorization, but there is a provision that is going to impact institutions of higher education.

And that is a mandate that the Department of Education is going to need to develop one campus climate survey that schools are going to have to share with students. And this is going to be focused on student experiences with domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and stalking.

Our institutions, I think, since the past decade, have been developing campus climate surveys. So we're hoping that we'll be engaged with the Department of Education as they go through this process. Some institutions are actually under state laws that mandate a specific campus climate survey.

I think we're also concerned about one survey applying to a four-year institution that has dormitories and traditional students, and say, an institution that's mostly online. I think that's going to be difficult for the Department of Education, and we're looking forward to working with them on that.

Terry Hartle: Yeah, I think that's another interesting point here, Sarah. This is one of those things that we knew was being discussed. The VAWA reauthorization, it was going to happen. The sponsors of the bill, particularly in the Senate, decided to stick it into the appropriations bill, because it was must pass legislation.

This guaranteed that it would get done, but they put it in there without really allowing people who might advise them about how to make this a more workable process could do it. One of the things we always say about higher education is, "One size does not fit all." It's a cliche, but it's true.

Any single survey that attempts to address the needs of residential institutions, commuter schools, online schools is likely to be a very complicated, messy undertaking. At this point, we don't know who will do this in the Department of Education.

We think it will be the National Center for Education Statistics. They will have to go through an extensive process to sort of develop the survey, including addressing issues related to protection of human subjects. So this is not going to happen quickly, but it will happen.

And the design of the survey, I think, is going to be exceptionally challenging. It's something that we at ACE will be watching. I'll give a shout out here to Anne Meehan, our ACE colleague who follow this most closely, and encourage any of you with specific questions to connect with Anne, in our office.

Sarah Spreitzer: Thanks, Terry. Yeah, the Department of Education is a busy place right now. And we know that student loan payments are supposed to be restarting May 1st. What are you hearing on that issue, Terry?

Terry Hartle: I think all that we can say for sure right now is that student loan payments are scheduled to resume on May 1st, scheduled to, but it seems increasingly unlikely that that will happen. Ron Klain, the President's chief of staff, said the other day that before May 1st, the president will make a decision about using executive authority for debt forgiveness, or he'll extend the debt repayment pause.

All of you will remember, because we've been talking about it, that the Democrats ran on a platform of forgiving at least $10,000 in debt for everyone repaying a student loan. The administration has said pretty consistently that they didn't think they had the authority to do that.

The President even said so himself directly. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also said the President doesn't have the authority to cancel debts across the board. He needs Congress to enact legislation. However, the idea remains out there.

It is a very big priority for progressive groups, for consumer groups, for student advocates, and they continue push the administration to forgive some amount of student debt for everyone who is repaying a loan. But right now, the question is, will the president decide that, in fact, they do have the authority to forgive student debts across the board?

We'll have to wait and see what comes of that. But the President's chief of staff's statement was, "Or he'll extend the pause," suggest that even if they don't do debt forgiveness, they will kick the resumption of repayment down the road to some future date.

For those of you who follow this, the Federal Reserve Board of New York yesterday released a study that concluded that the benefit to students, to those who repaying student loans, had been $195 billion since the start of the pause. That works out to about $7.5 or $8 billion a month that has not been coming into the Treasury.

So it's a significant amount of money that the feds have been foregoing. It's always easier to put some sort of a repayment pause in place, than it is to restart the repayment of loans, regardless of whether we're talking about consumer loan, home loans or student loans.

Indeed, the student loan relief enacted at the start of the pandemic has lasted a far longer time than the other forms of pandemic relief. Think about the ban on evictions, think about the enhanced unemployment benefits. Both of those expired last year.

Here we are at the end of March, and we're talking about extending the pause on student loan repayments even further. At this point, I think we should really hope that there is a pause, because the department, about a month ago, informed servicers to stop telling borrowers that repayments were going to start on March 1st.

This was taken as the department tipping its hand to what it was going to do, but borrowers haven't been really getting messages from servicers that loan repayment is about to restart. So if they were to restart it now, I think we'd really be looking at chaos.

Sarah Spreitzer: Well, and that's not the only thing the Department of Education is grappling with, or at least, they've just finished the process known as negotiated rulemaking. Terry, would you talk a bit about negotiated rulemaking, and what the department actually accomplished through this round of negotiated rulemaking?

Terry Hartle: Sure. Well, the Department of Education has to engage in a process called negotiated rulemaking, if they want to change the regulations regarding Title IV student aid. This is a challenging undertaking that the Democrats don't have a terribly good success rate at.

In the Obama administration, they tried five times to change existing regulations through negotiated rulemaking, and never reached agreement. This was essentially the same thing. The department was saying, "Well, we think we ought to change the existing regulations in ways that will accomplish our purposes of more protection for taxpayers and students, and therefore, these are the changes we propose to make."

Any business, any company, any industry gets used to regulations once they've been in place for awhile. When we talk about changing those regulations, it becomes a very controversial undertaking, particularly when, as in this case, the department didn't have a lot of data about what the impact would be of the changes that it was recommending.

The department did get agreement on two of the seven issues that they were working on. One, ability to benefit, will have some implications for community colleges. The other, the so-called 90/10 issue, really doesn't affect traditional colleges and universities.

The Department of Education will now go ahead and will issue the agreed upon regulations for a formal regulatory process. There will be a notice of proposed rulemaking, a time for comments, and final regs will be issued. In fact, this will be largely pro forma for these two issues, because negotiators agreed on how to change the regulation.

The other five issues that were up for regulation proved much more controversial, much more complicated. In many of the cases, the department didn't really have good data to show how this would work out what the impact would be on institutions, on borrowers, on private organizations. So there was a great deal of unhappiness with the department's ability to show folks what the impact would be of their changes.

Second, until the very last afternoon of the last day, the department didn't evidence a lot of willingness to compromise on the regulations, and the two areas where they got consensus actually happened in the second half of the last afternoon of the last day. So we're going to be talking about this for awhile.

The department will now go back. They will be required to go through a comprehensive regulatory process here. This means fully fledged and notice of proposed regulation, with ample opportunity for people to comment on the regulations.

The department will have to carefully review all the comments, and then they will issue a final regulation. This will be a much more substantial undertaking than we will see, with respect to ability to benefit, or the 90/10 regulations, where they got consensus.

What are some of the issues that the department is going to be wrestling with? Well, I'll highlight a couple. One will be agreements between private organizations and nonprofit institutions for online program management. These are often associated with the offering of online programs.

The Department of Education simply wants a much higher federal oversight of these agreements, and the department proposes a fairly high stakes assessment. If this comes down on the wrong side, the department decides this is not a valid agreement, the nonprofit institution could lose its nonprofit status.

Again, this is a broader than simply online program management for online education. There were concerns that the way the department had drafted the regulation, it could cover bookstores. It could cover food servicing agreement, it could cover residence hall agreement.

And it appears that the Department of Education wants to apply this regulation to public institutions, as well as private not-for-profit institutions. Obviously, public institutions are not going to be for-profit institutions, regardless of the Department of Education. So this one just simply collapsed, because of the weight of all the things that were going on in it.

Second issue here, one that many of you will have heard about, is state reciprocity. This is the issue involving NC-SARA. It's designed to facilitate the offering of online programs across states, and NC-SARA establishing a framework that all the states but one, I believe, have agreed to abide by. And the Department of Education's draft regulation appeared, to many of the negotiators, to be something that would dramatically undermine the effort to establish a national framework for the provision of online courses.

So this will be an issue that many of you will be hearing about. If you have online programs you offer in multi states, it's something you want to pay particular attention to, when the Department of Ed issues these regulations.

Indeed, at a point, one of the benefits of online education have been never more apparent as a result of the pandemic, the department's going to make it potentially harder for schools to offer these programs.

Licensure requirements, the Department of Education, as part of its mandate, as part of its regulatory process here, indicated that they wanted to override state licensure laws in some states. This would apply to any program that is created in response to the need for a license, like cosmetology, or a barber school.

There's long been a concern with variation and requirements to get a license. Some states have very loose requirements, a very short time of study required, other states have much more extensive requirements that they put in place.

But what would have happened under the department's regs is it would have punished the students by taking away their eligibility for student aid, if the state had a licensure requirement that was longer than the Department of Education believed was necessary. And potentially a very big impact on community colleges here.

Again, we're going to go through a very extensive regulatory process here. I think the big question for institutions is how quickly the Department of Education tries to do this. Remember, if the Department of Ed wants to have new regulations in place that start next July 1st, July 1, 2023, they have to publish them in their final form by November 1, 2022.

So the department essentially has between now, the end of March, and Halloween, to run through a comprehensive regulatory process on some pretty high stakes issue. No doubt, the Department of Ed will want to do this, and will try to do this. The regulatory process always takes time.

Whether they're able to do it remains to be seen. But I think, particularly on some of the things, I've just run through, the issues here, the implications here for colleges and universities, and in some cases, for our students, are pretty significant.

Sarah Spreitzer: That's a lot to get done on the rulemaking front, Terry. And I think, given that very short time frame, before we turn to take questions, do you want to preview what else might be happening this spring?

Terry Hartle: Sure.

Sarah Spreitzer: Especially since the title of this pop-up is Spring Forward?

Terry Hartle: Yeah. Well, especially, I mentioned the negotiated rulemaking session that just concluded last week. Remember, the department concluded a previous regulatory session dealing with a completely different set of issues a couple of weeks before that. The department, I think, got agreement on four of the nine issues.

There will be separate, there will be another regulatory package for negotiated rulemaking, round one. So the department's going to have to run two regulatory packages here, involving student aid, involving the Department of Education.

The department's got other things going on at the present time. Many of you will recall that the Trump administration put a regulation in place to dealing with free inquiry and religious freedom. This was put in place in response to an executive order issued by the Trump administration.

The executive order is still in place, but the Department of Education is taking a very careful look at the regulation on free inquiry and religious freedom. And we expect the department in the very near future to issue some, take some regulatory action, with respect to this regulation.

It is quite possible they will simply move to repeal the regulation. They will have to go through a full regulatory process to do that. They can't just wave it away, but I think it's quite possible that we'll see the department take action in the next month or so on the free inquiry, religious freedom regulations.

I've already mentioned, as we look forward, the uncertainty about the restarting of student loan payments. That's also something that's going to be a very big deal, administratively, a heavy lift for the Department of Education, whatever they choose to do.

Finally, some time in April, we expect the Department of Education to issue new regulations, new proposed regulations, around Title IX, sexual assault. The department has been saying for some time that they were aiming for mid-April, that continues to be what they say.

It could slip or slide a little bit, but certainly, if the Department of Education issues new regulations on sexual assault, sexual violence, sexual harassment, they are likely to be controversial, very complex, and examined carefully by all sorts of organization, both inside and outside of higher education. That's going to be a major lift for the Department of Education.

So this is an agency that's going to have an awful lot going on over the next few months. There are some other things that we are watching. One of the issues that we have mentioned previously is that the Department of Labor plans to change the regulations surrounding overtime pay.

As I think you all know, one of the ways that we divide employees under federal labor law, excuse me, is whether or not they are eligible for overtime. There is a dollar threshold that has a lot to do with whether you are an hourly employee or a salaried employee.

If you are an hourly employee, you are eligible for overtime pay. The Department of Labor, under pressure from progressive groups, is going to reexamine that current income threshold, currently $35,500, with an eye toward pushing the amount higher. This would have the effect of making more people eligible for overtime pay.

The conversation among the progressive groups is they would like to push it from the current level of $35,500 to about $80,000, thereby making more people eligible for overtime, thereby creating a significant wage challenge for many employers. I think we should fully expect that amount is going to go up.

How far it goes up is the big question. We had been told this regulation would be out in the spring. Just in the last week, we're getting signals that it won't come out in draft form this spring. It will come out in the summer, or maybe even the fall.

Once again, this will be a notice of proposed rulemaking, ample opportunity for comments. Then the Department of Labor will have to review all those comments, and issue a regulation.

Finally, one thing we learned in the last week, if you've been following the judicial controversies involving higher education, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving the use of race in college admissions, two cases, actually, one involving Harvard, one involving the University of North Carolina.

We learned about a week ago that briefs for those people and organizations supporting Harvard and UNC will be due by August 1st. It'll be filed with the court by August 1st. That's not when the case will be heard. The case won't be heard until some time after the court reconvenes in October.

But this means, over the next couple of months, Pete McDonough and the general counsels of the institutions that are involved, are going to be working very hard to put together a higher education community brief. So, a lot going on here, I underscore, much of it in the executive branch agencies, and much of it regulatory focused.

It's not always as visible as what Congress does, it's not always as exciting as what Congress does, the press doesn't cover it as much. But the implications for colleges and universities and our students can be equally profound.

Sarah Spreitzer: Thanks, Terry. And one question that we received on a regulation you didn't touch on, was the final rule around deferred action for childhood arrivals.

That was one that had been proposed by the Department of Homeland Security, really looking to make the Obama administration era program stronger, and try to help defend it against court cases. We expect that final rule to be out at some point this spring.

Really, the biggest thing that we're watching is whether or not the administration follows through with separating deferred action from work authorization, as they proposed in the proposed rule. We'll continue to watch that closely.

Terry Hartle: Yeah, that'll be one thing we're watching. The other thing we're watching, of course, is how many people will the regulation apply to?

We would like it to apply to as many people as possible. But for a variety of reasons, legal and political, the Department of Homeland Security will have to decide how far they can go in protecting people. This will give the Dreamers better protection than they have at present. Remember, the Obama program was just an executive order. Those are pretty easy to take away.

This will be a regulated initiative. So it will have more protection than an executive order, but not as much as we'd have, if the Biden administration had been able to turn this into a program based on a law passed by Congress.

But you're right, that I should have mentioned that. It's coming soon, we believe, but we don't have much indication from Department of Homeland Security about exactly when.

Sarah Spreitzer: Great. And we have time for a few questions here. We had a question about FAFSA simplification, and any movement on that?

Terry Hartle: I should have mentioned this, thanks to whoever raised this. The Omnibus spending bill made a couple of changes related to FAFSA simplification. Essentially, what they've done is, they've extended the timeline for phasing this in.

In 2020, when Congress approved FAFSA simplification, they did it on a highly unrealistic timeframe. The department told them, there was simply no way they could get this ready to go for the start of the '23-'24 school year, just given the lead time that is necessary to change federal student aid operations.

Legislation has now kicked the effective date out to July 20, excuse me, to the '24-'25 school year, which was always going to be where the Department of Education was going to end up. They just couldn't get it done before that, as much as they might have wanted to.

The Omnibus bill also provide some flexibility to allow the Department of Education to enable some pieces of this, that do not require actual changes in the FAFSA to take effect in the '23-'24 school year. These changes would give flexibility to institutions, these changes would potentially be beneficial to students getting federal student aid, so we are very anxious and encouraging the department to try and move some of these things forward as quickly as they can.

The Department of Ed is still working its way through that. I assume, in another month or two, we'll have a better picture about whether some parts of this might be implementable a year from this coming July 1st.

Sarah Spreitzer: Thanks, Terry. Well, and with that, Terry, we are at time. So thank you to everyone for participating.

Our next Public Policy Pop-Up, I believe, is April 18th. And we look forward to seeing all of you back here for that. Thank you.

Terry Hartle: Thanks very much, Sarah. And thanks to everybody who joined in, and see you next month.

Sarah Spreitzer: As always, podcast friends, you can check out earlier episodes and subscribe to dotEDU on Apple, Google Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. For show notes and links to the resources mentioned in the episode, you can go to our website at

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A very big thank you to the producers who helped pull this podcast together, Laurie Arnston, Audrey Hamilton, Malcolm Moore, Anthony Truehart, Hisani Stenson, and Fatma NGom. They do an incredible job of making this happen, and making Jon, Mushtaq and I sound as good as possible. And finally, thank you so much for listening.​

About the Podcast

​Each episode of dotEDU presents a deep dive into a major public policy issue impacting college campuses and students across the country. Hosts from ACE are joined by guest experts to lead you through thought-provoking conversations on topics such as campus free speech, diversity in admissions, college costs and affordability, and more. Find all episodes of the podcast at the dotEDU page.

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