Crackdown on Donations-for-Admissions

By The New England Council

DC Shuttle …

Legislation Would Require Reporting of Donations to Colleges. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced legislation that would eliminate tax deductions for donations made to colleges unless the institutions have policies asserting that family donations don’t influence admissions. The bill, the College Admissions Fairness Act, would amend the Higher Education Act to require colleges receiving federal aid to implement such a policy. They also would have to report on applicants and enrolled students who are children of donors.

U.S. Ed Dept Releases Proposed Rule on Accreditation. The Department of Education released new proposed rules for accreditation. The department says the proposed changes are meant to foster innovation and give accreditors and colleges more flexibility. The proposal resulted from a negotiated rulemaking session earlier this year. The proposed regulations would make it easier for colleges to get program approval, give accreditors more leeway over taking action against institutions and ease federal review of accrediting bodies. The public will have 30 days to comment on the rules. Once the public comment period closes, the Education Department will have to review responses by Nov. 1 in order to issue a final rule that could take effect in 2020, Education Dive reports. The department estimated the proposed changes would cost the government $3.8 billion over the next decade in increased Pell Grants and student loans. That estimate is largely because of changes that would make it easier for colleges to obtain or keep their accreditation, the department said.

Education Spending Bill Works Through Committee. The House Rules Committee worked through dozens of proposed amendments for a funding package that includes education spending, H.R. 2740. The committee late Monday night approved a rule setting up debate on 106 amendments. The amendments included proposing a $4 million funding boost for the Education Department’s Office of Inspector General, a prohibition on funds being used to limit the function of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, and an increase in funding for the civil rights office “to ensure compliance with civil rights laws and prohibit discrimination.” The committee will continue work on the bill this week.

House Committee Holds Hearing on Sexual Harassment in Science Education. The House Science Committee held a hearing to examine sexual harassment in higher education. A Government Accountability Office official gave insight into a study of sexual harassment in science that committee leaders requested. The full report isn’t expected to be finished until later this year. A panel of college leaders also addressed the committee. The hearing came as panel Democrats push a bill aimed at cracking down on sexual harassment in STEM fields. The bill, H.R. 36, would create National Science Foundation grants for colleges and other nonprofits to study harassment and how to curb it.

House Holds Hearing on Student Loan Debt. The House Small Business Committee held a hearing to examine the effect of rising student loan debt among medical professionals. The committee discussed how student debt is hampering the formation of small, private medical practices and affecting the specialties that medical professionals choose to pursue.

House Holds Hearing on Student Loan Servicers. The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing on how states regulate the companies collecting federal student loans. Testifying before the subcommittee were representatives of three Democratic state attorneys general that have each filed lawsuits that accuse student loan servicers of violating consumer protection laws.

Report Shows Declining International Student Enrollment. A new report shows new enrollments of international students at U.S. schools declined in 2017, the second straight annual drop. New enrollments of international students fell 6.6% in 2017. The group that is reporting the data, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, is placing the blame on “political rhetoric” and “policy changes that telegraph a message that international students and scholars aren’t necessarily welcome.” The group surveys students each year and found last fall that foreign students said bureaucratic hassles, such as delayed and denied visas, were the No. 1 cause of declining U.S. enrollment. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

Sen. Murphy Released Higher Education White Paper. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, released a white paper that describes his plan for expanding federal accountability of colleges and universities.

We publish the DC Shuttle each week featuring higher ed news from Washington collected by the New England Council, of which NEBHE is a member. This edition is drawn from the Higher Education Update in the Council’s Weekly Washington Report of June 17, 2019. For more information, please visit:


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