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SA Weekly: January 6

Student Success Financial Wellness Policy and Advocacy Assessment, Evaluation, and Research Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement
January 6, 2020 Maya Ward-Fineman NASPA

Welcome to SA Weekly, your destination for higher ed news, NASPA research and policy, constituent blogs, and more. 

Positive Picture for State Higher Ed Funding “All but three states reported year-over-year increases in funding for public higher education, annual survey of state financing finds.”

New SNAP Rule Impacts College Students By Limiting Benefits And Adding Confusion “The new Trump administration rule makes it harder for states to waive the requirement that adults work at least 20 hours a week in order to receive their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or SNAP — benefits. Some low-income college students could be affected.”

Change in the Polls “Election polling by colleges pays off with publicity and opportunities for students. But some are changing their methods as polling costs increase.”

Does Fiduciary Duty Prevent Fossil Fuel Divestment? “Working paper finds endowment managers shouldn't ignore divestment calls solely because of fears about falling returns.”

Students' Sense of Belonging Varies by Identity, Institution “New research highlights the differences in students’ sense of belonging by race, institution type and first-generation status.”

Free Textbooks for Law Students “Legal scholars are increasingly adopting and creating free textbooks in an attempt to increase affordability for students. But are these textbooks considered open educational resources?”


Policy Update

No, you’re not going to be drafted into the military just because you applied for federal student loansby Leslie Albrecht, Marketwatch, January 6, 2020

Growing concerns regarding the possibility of the United States going to war has applicants worried during filing season for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A question concerning Selective Service is included in the FAFSA, but registration is actually required for most males in the United States regardless. Question 22 on the FAFSA notes that “Most male students much register with the Selective Service System to receive federal aid. If you are male, are age 18-25, and have not registered, fill in the circle and we will register you.” While the Department of Education requires students to be registered in order to receive federal funding, Congress will need to enact legislation in order to authorize a draft. The United States has not implemented a draft since 1973. 

DREAM Act Advocates Push NYC Officials To Raise Student, Counselor Awarenessby Reema Amin, Patch, December 27, 2019

Implementation is an important policymaking element to keep in mind as states head into their respective 2020 legislative sessions. Last year New York passed its version of a DREAM Act that allows undocumented students to apply for in-state college tuition assistance. New York City has trained 1,400 educators at 300 K-12 schools regarding the DREAM Act application, however it seems like more training may be necessary. While it appears that the Higher Education Services Corp, which administers the DREAM Act, does not have data available as to how many students have actually taken advantage of the legislation thus far, local elected officials have expressed disappointment regarding the rollout of the policy. Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa wants the state to take on a “PR campaign” to send information directly to families and community organizations in hopes this will fill in knowledge gaps keeping potential students from applying. 

Relevant Bills

HR 1865—Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020

Primary Sponsor: Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-9)

Latest Action: Signed into law, December 20, 2019

President Trump signed appropriations measures for FY2020 into law on December 20, 2019, marking several increases for higher education research and funding. The bill provides $72.8 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Education, including; $24.5 billion for Federal student aid programs, $2.5 billion for higher education programming, and $130 million for the Office for Civil Rights. Notable increases include: 

  •        $1.2 billion for Federal Work-Study, 
  •        $6,345 for the maximum Pell Grant reflecting the cost of inflation, 
  •        $865 million for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program, 
  •        $1.1 billion for federal TRIO programs, 
  •        $365 for GEAR UP, and
  •        $760 million to assist Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). 

HR 5363—Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act

Primary Sponsor: Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12)

Latest Action: Signed into law, December 19, 2019

On December 19, President Trump signed the Fostering Undergraduate Talent by Unlocking Resources for Education (FUTURE) Act into law making permanent $255 million per year funding for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). Authority for this funding under Title III of the Higher Education Act of 1965 expired on September 30, 2019, leaving many Minority Serving Institutions at risk of losing vital funding to support their students. The bill will also work to streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filing and verification processes. The FUTURE Act amends Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code to allow the IRS to share taxpayer data directly with the Department of Education, negating the need for verification, and easing the burden on low-income applicants. The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) offers additional analysis of how the FUTURE Act will impact college affordability for millions of students.    

Around NASPA

Exposing the Myths of "Party School" Rankings of College Campuses by  Jason Kilmer, Jeff Linkenbach and Christine Lee, Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Community