Federal Legislative Update for Friday, April 2
The House will return to session on Tuesday, April 13, with no legislative program yet announced.
With enactment of sweeping health care reform, colleges and universities face significant changes in how they design health care benefit plans and services for their employees. To help institutions prepare for these changes, the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) has scheduled a free webinar on Thursday, April 15, from 3-4:00 p.m., ET.
Registration for the free webinar is available through the CUPA-HR website here .
The session, which is co-sponsored by AAU, the American Council on Education, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the National Association of College and University Business Officers, will feature Dallas Salisbury, president and CEO of the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). He will discuss elements of the new law and how they will affect health care plan designs, implementation, and eligibility.
Congress recently passed a slimmed down version of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), which was included as part of the health care reconciliation bill. The legislation converts all new federal student lending to the Direct Loan program, and redirects savings from the conversion from FFEL (FFEL lenders will service the loans made by the Department to students under contracts) to Direct Loan, in a number of ways:
• increasing Pell Grants for low-income students, increasing the maximum award to $5,975 by 2017 and adjusting the maximum award annually to match rising costs of living;
• investing in college access support for students;
• strengthening the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) program, allowing borrowers to cap monthly payments at 10% (down from 15%) of discretionary income and shortening the repayment period to 20 years (down from 25 years);
• investing in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, tribal colleges, and other minority-serving institutions; and
• investing in a competitive grant program for community colleges to develop and improve both educational and career training initiatives.
On Tuesday, April 6, Congressman Daniel Lipinski, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education in the U.S. House of Representatives, will hold a NSF Listening Session at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine (in Chicago). The intent of the informal discussion is to review draft legislation as well as the NSF's programs, problems, and successes, to ensure that any bill that passes the Congress and is signed into law will better reflect the priorities and experiences of the academic community. Representing the UW System at this roundtable discussion will be: Terry Millar, Associate Dean of the Graduate School, UW-Madison; Lynne Thomson, Interim Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development and Interim Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs at UWM; and Vijendra Agarwal, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of Physics at UW-La Crosse.
(American Association of Universities, U.S. Department of Education "Ed Review" and the UW System Office of Federal Relations contributed to this report.)