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House Education and Workforce Committee Introduces Reauthorization of Higher Education Act; Democrats Introduce Competing Title VI Proposal

On December 1, House Education and Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, a bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). The HEA authorizes federal aid programs that support institutions of higher education and postsecondary students. The bill proposes large changes to graduate student loan programs, rolling back regulations on for-profit colleges, and changing the process for applying for federal student aid. Additionally, the bill proposes the elimination of several Title VI-International Education programs and reauthorizes the remaining programs below current levels.

Congress last authorized the Higher Education Act in 2008 and the Senate committee of jurisdiction—the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions—will likely introduce its own bill in the coming year. A summary of the bill,  prepared by the American Council on Education, can be found here. The Coalition for International Education, of which COSSA is a member, sent a letter to leadership of the House Education and Workforce Committee sharing its concerns with the PROSPER Act.

Relatedly, Representatives David Price (D-NC) and Susan Davis (D-CA) introduced a bill on November 30 that would reauthorize only Title VI of the Higher Education Act. Their bill, known as the Advancing International and Foreign Language Education Act, would expand, streamline, and increase funding for existing foreign language and area studies programs and is a stark contrast to the provisions included in the PROSPER Act.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 12), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

GOP Tax Plan Could Hurt Students, NDD Programs

Several provisions contained in the tax plans rolled out by Republican leadership this month have raised concerns for stakeholder groups that do not normally weigh in on tax policy. The House’s plan, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) was approved by the Ways and Means Committee on November 9 and is expected to be debated on the House floor later this week. The Senate Finance Committee began its markup of  the Senate plan on Monday and will continue its consideration of the bill today. There are significant differences between the two plans that would need to be worked out during the conference process, and the Senate plan will likely require additional changes in order to gain the support of 51 Republicans. However, Congressional Republicans are facing substantial political pressure to pass a tax plan, and GOP leadership has publicly stated that it hopes to have a plan passed by the end of the year.

Higher education groups have flagged a number of provisions in both proposals that could make undergraduate and graduate education harder to afford and affect colleges and universities’ ability to offer assistance to their students.  Of particular concern is a proposal in the House plan to tax graduate tuition waivers as income—meaning that some graduate students’ taxes could increase by 100 percent or more while they earn the same (generally limited) income.  The House bill would also eliminate the student loan interest deduction as well as several other tax credits for students. While these changes are absent from the Senate bill, the two proposals share other provisions that could affect colleges and universities’ bottom lines, including reducing incentives for charitable giving, an excise tax on endowment earnings at private college and universities, and repealing or reducing the state and local tax deduction, potentially affecting state funding of higher education.

In addition to the impacts on students and higher education institutions, the budget proposals add an estimated $1.5 trillion over ten years to the federal deficit, likely leading to significant cuts to non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs down the road, which include research funding. Given that these programs have already seen disproportionate cuts to their budgets in recent years, this is a cause for concern among groups focused on science and research, as well as on other social issues.

COSSA has not issued its own action alert on the tax plan, however we have compiled the following list of resources and information on how to take action prepared by partner organizations:

American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Council on Education

Association of American Medical Colleges and Universities

Association of American Universities

Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities

Coalition on Human Needs

Council of Graduate Schools

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

National Humanities Alliance

NDD United

Other Resources

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 14), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

SBS Graduate Training Workshop Proceedings Published

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has published the proceedings of a workshop held in June 2017, Graduate Training in the Social and Behavioral Sciences. The workshop was convened by the Academies’ Board on Science Education and sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The workshop focused on how graduate education in the social and behavioral sciences can adapt to increasing focuses on interdisciplinarity and changing workforce needs. The workshop summary and a webcast of the workshop are available on the Academies’ website.

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Posted in Issue 19 (October 3), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Academies Report Examines Impact of Social Competencies on College Success

On April 13, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education released a report, Supporting Students’ College Success: The Role of Assessment of Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Competencies. Supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the report “examines how to assess interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies (e.g., teamwork, communication skills, academic mindset, and grit) of undergraduate students for different purposes.” It also establishes “priorities for the development and use of assessments related to the identified intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies that influence higher education success, especially in STEM.” Central themes of the report include diversity and inclusion. Special attention was given to research on “student groups that have historically experienced lowered college persistence and success than other groups” including black, Hispanic, and American Indian racial/ethnic minority groups, students from low-income families, first-generation college students, and women in particular STEM disciplines. The committee concluded that additional research is needed and made 13 recommendations, including that federal agencies and foundations support “rigorous research, in partnership with higher education institutions, to understand better the three most-promising competencies and their relationship to college success.” Copies of the report are available on the Academies’ website.

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Posted in Issue 8 (April 18), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Releases 2017 Rankings of Social and Behavioral Science Funding at Colleges and Universities

COSSA recently released its 2017 College and University Rankings for Federal Social and Behavioral Science R&D, which highlights the top university recipients of research dollars in the social and behavioral sciences. Nine of this year’s top 10 recipients of federal funding in the social and behavioral sciences are COSSA members. Based on federally collected data, the COSSA rankings use an inclusive selection of fields to calculate the total federal R&D funding received by universities in the social and behavioral sciences. The 2017 rankings reflect spending from fiscal year 2015, the most current available data. You can find more information on how COSSA produces its rankings and see how your university stacks up against more than 450 U.S. institutions on our website.

The top 10 recipients for 2017 are:

Top Recipients of Federal Social Science R&D Funding

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (NC) – $92,039,000
  2. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MI) – $88,373,000
  3. University of Maryland, College Park (MD) – $58,793,000
  4. University of Pennsylvania (PA) – $43,314,000
  5. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (MN) – $38,279,000
  6. Pennsylvania State University, University Park and Hershey Medical Center (PA) – $37,264,000
  7. University of Washington, Seattle (WA) – $36,876,000
  8. Florida State University (FL) – $31,382,000
  9. New York University (NY) – $30,804,000
  10. Arizona State University (AZ) – $29,812,000

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Posted in Issue 23 (December 13), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

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