Editor’s note: This update from the government relations office at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) provides the latest on what’s happening in Washington and how AACC is advancing policies to support community colleges and students. Send questions, feedback and more to: opens in a new firstname.lastname@example.org new email.
- opens in a new windowAppropriations Update: Labor-HHS-Education bill report language
- opens in a new windowElectronic Announcement on Borrower Defense to Repayment
- opens in a new windowHouse Committee approves the DETERRENT Act
- opens in a new windowHouse Republicans urge DOL to withdraw new overtime rule
- opens in a new windowED releases new data on transfer partnerships
- opens in a new windowFunding opportunities
The House has released the budget report accompanying the House Labor-HHS-Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee’s opens in a new windowFiscal Year 2024 (FY 2024) funding bill. The report confirms that the House bill would eliminate funding for Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Federal Work Study (FWS), and the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program. It would keep the maximum Pell Grant award flat at $7,395. The bill would reduce funding for Postsecondary Student Success Grants to $15 million (a $30 million cut) and would half funding for Basic Needs Grants to $5 million. The bill maintains funding for the Title III-A Strengthening Institutions Program and the Strengthening Community College Training Grants (SCCTG) program.
The report includes new language requiring Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to compile a report and analysis of how HRSA will prioritize opportunities for community college nursing programs in Title VIII nursing workforce development grant programs. Community colleges play an essential role in the education of our health care workforce, educating nearly 40 percent of Registered Nurses. Despite the contributions of the sector and the immense need for a trained healthcare workforce in communities across the country, less than one percent of Title VIII grants have been awarded to community colleges. AACC is working to change that.
This week, the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) released an opens in a new windowelectronic announcement (EA) clarifying institutions’ responsibilities in responding to Borrower Defense to Repayment (BDR) claims. Community colleges had reported a substantial increase in the number of BDR claims they receive – with many colleges receiving their first claim – over the past few months. Colleges have also communicated confusion over which set of regulations should govern their responses. The most recent, 2023 BDR rules, which have different requirements for colleges than earlier iterations, are currently under a national injunction. AACC joined other higher education groups in asking ED for additional guidance for colleges.
The EA reiterated that colleges are receiving increased numbers of claims because ED is using a single send for all claims that fall under the Sweet v. Cardona settlement, or claims received from June 23, 2022 to November 15, 2022. In some cases, colleges will receive additional claims in batches. The EA also clarified that, under the 2016 BDR rules, the Department does not review claims for material completeness or merit before sending to colleges. Under the 2016 rules, it is optional for colleges to respond during the initial fact-finding stage and a nonresponse does not give rise to a negative inference against the school. If a claim is approved, colleges will have an opportunity to contest the claim before any funds are recouped from the college, if the Department tries to do that as may under law. Most approved BDR claims do not result in recoupment.
The EA underscores that colleges should review applications and determine whether to respond on a case-by-case basis.
The week, the House Committee on Education & the Workforce approved opens in a new windowH.R. 5993opens PDF file , the Defending Education Transparency and Ending Rogue Regimes Engaging in Nefarious Transactions (DETERRENT) Act. The legislation amends Section 117 of the Higher Education Act to require greater reporting of foreign gifts and contracts, with an emphasis on contributions from countries of concern. Three Democrats joined Republicans to approve the bill, while other Committee Democrats objected to the measure citing the burden for institutions and a chilling effect on global research partnerships. It is unclear when the DETERRENT Act will advance to the House floor. It does not have a companion bill in the Senate. Most of the bill’s provisions will apply to large research institutions, whereas the potential impact on community colleges is less clear and may be limited. AACC is eager to hear from colleges about partnerships with foreign governments or foreign-owned companies as we analyze the bill.
This week, House Committee on Education & the Workforce Republicans, led by Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina) and Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Chair Kevin Kiley (R-California), opens in a new windowsent a letteropens PDF file to Department of Labor (DOL) Acting Secretary Julie Su, urging DOL to withdraw their proposed overtime rule.
For review, DOL announced a opens in a new windowproposed increase to the salary floor for “exempt” employees in executive, administrative, and professional roles under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The new threshold will be at least $55,068, up from the current $35,568. Based on the formula proposed by DOL, the floor is projected to be $60,209 by the time the rule goes into effect, and that floor would be automatically adjusted every three years.
The members argue that the “proposed rule would have a devastating impact on America’s small businesses, nonprofits, colleges, universities, and other employers.”
The proposed rule would have an enormous impact on many community colleges’ staffing and budgets. AACC opens in a new windowfiled comments highlighting the challenges associated with implementing this rule and encouraged member colleges to share potential impacts on their campuses.
This week, the Department of Education (ED) hosted a summit on community college transfer, part of the Department’s Raise the Bar: Attaining College Excellence and Equity Initiative. The event featured institutions that are leading successful transfer initiatives and perspectives from community college transfer students. The event was coupled with the release of opens in a new windownew outcomes data on community college transfers.
ED used information from the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to construct a sample of 620,000 Title IV-aided students who attended community colleges as their first postsecondary institution in 2014. The data show that 13 percent of these students ultimately earned a bachelor’s degree within eight years. Students in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Virginia had much higher bachelor’s degree attainment rates than average. The data also provide insights into transfer-out rates – or how many students are transferring from a community college to a predominantly bachelors-granting institution. Some states have higher transfer-out rates and lower BA completion rates, and vice versa. Finally, the data analyze the role that partnerships between two- and four-year colleges – or dyads – play in outcomes.
Users can download the data from ED on all community colleges, four-year institutions, and dyads in each state that had a sufficient number of students in the sample to calculate transfer-out and completion rates.
Applications are open for key community college funding opportunities:
- opens in a new windowStrengthening Community College Training Grants – Due November 14