E-Update for the Week of August 19, 2019

Highlights:

This week, USED Secretary DeVos visited two correctional facilities to tour the education programs each offer. On August 15, the Secretary visited Westville Correctional Facility in Indiana, which is an experimental site for the “Second Chance Pell” program. On August 14, she visited Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana.
On August 14, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) sent a letter to President Donald Trump. The Senators urged the president to withdraw his budget request with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) budget of $5 billion for border wall construction.
On August 13, DHS published a final rule regarding the inadmissibility of immigrants on “public charge” grounds, which refers to whether a person is likely to be dependent on certain public benefits programs. The final rule expands the public benefits programs that can be considered when determining admissibility. A proposed rule was originally published in October 2018 and received over 200,000 comments. The rule will take effect on October 13

Budget and Appropriations:
Schumer, Leahy urge Trump to give up on […]

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E-Update for the Week of August 12, 2019

Highlights:

On August 9, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a letter to the members of the Committee “to ask for [their] recommendations on bipartisan proposals within the HELP committee’s jurisdiction that could help prevent future mass shootings like the recent tragedies in California, Texas, and Ohio.”
On August 8, POLITICO reported that the overall spending level (also known as an allocation) for the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS) Appropriations bill was “about $5 billion less in order to fund Trump’s border wall.”
On August 6, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee, and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) led a letter of 30 Senate Democratic and Independent members to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to fulfill her responsibility to help students impacted by sudden closures of for-profit colleges.

Budget and Appropriations:
Senate Labor/HHS Appropriations bill reported $5 billion less to fund president’s border wall: POLITICO reported that the overall spending level (also known as […]

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E-Update for the Week of August 5, 2019

Highlights:

On August 1, the Senate approved the two-year budget deal, which was approved by the House last week. The 67-28 vote was largely bipartisan, which is the result of whipping efforts by Senate leadership and the White House. The agreement was signed by President Donald Trump on August 2.
On July 30, POLITICO reported that USED is opening a new review of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) to determine if it meets federal requirements for recognition. USED Secretary DeVos previously reinstated ACICS as a federally recognized accreditor after the Obama administration had terminated the recognition.
On July 29, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting information about the estimated impact of the Department’s proposed revisions to the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Budget and Appropriations:
Budget deal approved and signed: The Senate approved the two-year budget deal, which was approved by the House last week.  The 67-28 vote was largely bipartisan, which is the result of whipping efforts by Senate leadership and […]

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Federal Nondiscrimination Law Regarding Diversity

June 26, 2018
Art Coleman and Jamie Lewis-Keith

Earlier this month, the College Board, NASFAA, and EducationCounsel released a new publication, Federal Nondiscrimination Law Regarding Diversity: Implications for Higher Education Financial Aid and Scholarship Policies and Programs.  This resource provides guidance to enrollment professionals around financial aid strategies and scholarship policies involving the consideration of race, ethnicity and sex that advance the institution’s diversity goals and are legally sustainable.
Financial aid and scholarship policies and practices are subject to the same federal nondiscrimination laws as admissions programs, but unlike admissions, they have not generated significant attention or been the subject of Supreme Court decisions.  Notably, the current legal landscape now involves an increased number of federal litigation and agency enforcement claims that reflect an expanded scope (beyond admissions), including allegations of race and sex discrimination in financial aid, as well as co-curricular and similar programs.
Advancing the diversity-associated mission of institutions of higher education requires attending to the imperatives of good policy and legal sustainability.  This guide seeks to elevate awareness of how to do that, with a focus on financial aid and […]

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E-Update for the Week of July 29, 2019

Highlights:

This week, the White House and congressional leadership reached an agreement to raise overall spending levels for two years and to suspend the debt limit through July 31, 2021. The agreement increases the cap on non-defense discretionary spending by $24.5 billion (just over 4%) for fiscal year (FY) 2020 to a total of $621.5 billion (plus additional funds available through Overseas Contingency Operations for some domestic programs such as those within the Foreign Operations bill).
On July 26, USED published in the Federal Register a pre-publication notice announcing the Department is proposing to add a new priority for discretionary grant programs. USED proposes to establish a priority for discretionary grant programs that would align the USED discretionary grant investments with the administration’s Opportunity Zones initiative.
On July 25, the Senate Homeland Security Committee held a hearing titled, “Examining State and Federal Recommendations for Enhancing School Safety Against Targeted Violence.” Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) led Republicans in exploring recommendations from state school safety commissions, including those formed after attacks such as those in Parkland, Sandy Hook, and Columbine, and identifying […]

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E-Update for the Week of July 22, 2019

Highlights:

This week, the White House and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) indicated they have made significant progress on finalizing a budget caps and debt ceiling deal. On July 18, U.S. Department of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, who has been leading negotiations on behalf of the White House, stated he and the Speaker had reached an initial agreement on the budget caps but still need to finalize a plan for offsetting the increase in spending.
On July 17, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) announced that Secretary Betsy DeVos approved plans by Georgia and North Carolina to participate in the innovative assessments pilot program during the 2019-2020 school year. Louisiana and New Hampshire are the only other states which have been granted permission to use the pilot.
On July 17, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment held a joint-hearing titled, “Educating our Educators: How Federal Policy Can Better Support Teachers and School Leaders.” Both Democrats and Republicans were focused on what needs to […]

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E-Update for the Week of July 15, 2019

Highlights:

On July 11, the Senate confirmed Robert King as U.S. Department of Education (USED) Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education. The Senate confirmed King with a 56-37 vote, with seven members not voting.
On July 11, President Donald Trump announced he would no longer be pursuing the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The president had previously been exploring options to add the question to the Census after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that his attempts were not justified and ordered lower courts to reconsider the addition. Instead of including a question on the Census, the president issued an Executive Order requiring all federal departments and agencies to provide the U.S. Department of Commerce all requested records regarding the number of citizens and non-citizens in the United States.
On July 2, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to USED Secretary DeVos arguing that the Department has the legal obligation to provide special education services to immigrant children currently being held in custody at the southern United States border.

Budget and Appropriations:
Impending debt […]

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E-Update for the Week of July 8, 2019

Highlights:

On July 2, the U.S. Department of Education (USED) published in the Federal Register a notice of a final rule regarding technical changes to Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). According to the executive summary, the final rule makes only technical changes to existing regulations to align them with the statutory changes from when ESSA was adopted. However, one additional change included in the published rule is the finalization of the Department’s decision to no longer enforce the restriction from religious organizations serving as contract providers of equitable services.
On July 1, USED announced that states are officially implementing their Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins V) one-year transition plans. The Department has reviewed and approved plans from every state, according to the release.
On June 28, USED published in the Federal Register a final rule regarding the Obama-era gainful employment regulation. The regulation previously required for-profit colleges and career programs to demonstrate their graduates were able to acquire “gainful employment” after graduation, meaning they would be able to earn a salary that allows them to pay […]

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E-Update for the Week of July 1, 2019

Highlights:

On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court released an opinion on Department of Commerce et al. v. New York et al., which revolved around the administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the administration does have the authority to add such a question; however, the administration failed to adequately explain the purpose of adding the question.
On June 25, USED Secretary DeVos delivered remarks to the Tulsa Community College Second Chance Commencement ceremony in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During her remarks, the Secretary stated, “You are why we propose the Second Chance Pell experiment or “pilot” be made permanent,” indicating the administration intends to permanently maintain the program.
On June 25, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), an office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced a collaboration between twelve school systems to improve coordination between Head Start service providers and their local elementary schools. The intention is to improve coordination to improve preparation for children entering kindergarten.

Budget and Appropriations:
McConnell pumps brakes on Shelby’s […]

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E-Update for the Week of June 24, 2019

Highlights:

On June 20, USED published final guidance on the Every Student Succeeds Act “supplement, not supplant” school funding provision. The statutory requirement compels school districts and states to ensure that federal funds are not used in place of state and local funds, but instead are used in addition to federal funding. The Department previously released draft guidance on the provision, outlining how states can illustrate their funding formulas comply with the statute.
On June 19, the House passed the fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations minibus (a package of multiple bills) on a partisan vote of 226-203. The minibus contained the appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, amongst others. There were hundreds of floor amendments that were considered on the package before a final vote, resulting in only minor changes to the U.S. Department of Education (USED).
On June 19, the House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing titled, “Innovation to Improve Equity: Exploring High-Quality Pathways to a College Degree.” The hearing was the Committee’s fifth and final bipartisan hearing on […]

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