DC Digest - March 26, 2010
In Today's Issue:
- Student Loan and Health Care Reconciliation Bill Passes House and Senate
- The Role of Student-Led Innovation in "Killer Apps" for Broadband Networks
- DOD Awards $38.7 Million to Universities for Research Equipment, Including Duke
- Seventy Representatives Urge $7.4 Billion Budget for NSF in FY11
- Student Loan Bill Scorecard
- NSF Report: Stimulus Boosted Federal R&D Spending in 2009
STUDENT LOAN AND HEALTH CARE RECONCILIATION BILL PASSES HOUSE AND SENATE
The Senate approved the student-loan bill, which was combined with Democrats' health-care overhaul, on Thursday afternoon by a vote of 56 to 43. Because the Senate made a couple of small changes in the version of the legislation that had been approved by the House of Representatives last Sunday, the bill went back to the House for another vote. That came later Thursday, when lawmakers endorsed the final bill, 220 to 207. All that remains is for President Obama to sign it into law.
The legislation holds the following implications for colleges:
- The legislation ends government subsidies for private student loans and requires all colleges to convert to direct lending by July 1, 2010. Because so many colleges and universities have switched to direct lending since the House passed its student aid reform bill last year (H.R. 3221), the expected savings from the change have fallen from $87 billion over 10 years to $61 billion over 10 years.
- The reconciliation bill provides $36 billion of the 10-year savings to the Pell Grant program, allowing the new award maximum of $5,550 (which goes into effect July 1) to remain steady through 2012-13. Then in 2013, the maximum award will increase each year by inflation for the next five years, with the maximum grant increasing to $5,975 by 2019. The legislation also reduces this year’s funding shortfall by $13.5 billion, or about two-thirds.
- Some $2.55 billion of the savings from switching to direct lending will be allocated to historically black and other minority-serving institutions, and $2 billion to two-year community college and career-training programs.
- Another $1.5 billion will expand the student loan income-based repayment program, capping new borrowers’ payments at 10 percent of their net monthly incomes after adjustments for basic living costs, rather than the current 15 percent.
- $750 million would be allocated over five years to the existing College Access Challenge Grant Program.
- Regarding student loans, effective July 2015, new borrowers will be eligible for a new income-based repayment plan. The plan will allow student loans to be forgiven after 15 years of repayment, instead of 20 years, as currently required.
- Left out of the pared-down package were a new Perkins Loan program, early childhood education and school modernization, and an extension of the cut in the student loan interest rate beyond 2012.
Health Care Provisions of Importance to Higher Education
- Colleges and universities that offer health insurance may continue to do so. (Early Senate language unintentionally restricted student health insurance, but this was corrected in the final bill.)
- Students will now be able to stay on their parents' insurance through age 26. The change is effective this September.
- There will be new limitations on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). Also there is a new surtax on so-called "Cadillac" insurance plans will take effect in 2018. The new 40 percent excise tax will be imposed on health insurance plans valued over $10,200 for individuals, or over $27,500 for families (indexed for inflation). Many plans offered by colleges could be affected.
THE ROLE OF STUDENT-LED INNOVATION IN "KILLER APPS" FOR BROADBAND NETWORKS
Tom Kalil and Aneesh Chopra of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy have proposed a new initiative to spur student innovation to develop "killer apps" for broadband networks. The initiative recognizes a strong history of students contributing important advances in information and communications technologies and seeks to involve industry, universities, and students. Kalil and Chopra have written a blog post broadly outlining their ideas and are seeking feedback.
The Role of Student-Led Innovation in "Killer Apps" for Broadband Networks (WhiteHouse.gov)
DOD AWARDS $38.7 MILLION TO UNIVERSITIES FOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT, INCLUDING DUKE
The Department of Defense (DoD) today announced plans to award $38.7 million to academic institutions to support the purchase of research instrumentation. The 166 awards to 96 academic institutions are being made under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP). The awards are expected to range from $50,000 to $930,000 and average approximately $235,000. All awards are subject to the successful completion of negotiations between DoD research offices and the academic institutions.
Five Duke proposals were among those selected for funding. For more information about DURIP and the merit competition for DURIP funding, see below.
$38.7 Million Awarded to Universities for Research Equipment (Defense.gov)
Complete list of winning proposals
SEVENTY REPRESENTATIVES URGE $7.4 BILLION BUDGET FOR NSF IN FY11
Seventy Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to House appropriators on March 22 asking them to provide $7.4 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in FY11, the amount requested by the President.
“A renewed commitment to core basic research and educational programs at the NSF is an essential part of meeting the multidisciplinary challenges we face in areas such as energy, health care, and nanotechnology,” the Members wrote. “In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, we must make sustained investments in the National Science Foundation.”
Letter urging NSF Funding
STUDENT LOAN BILL SCORECARD
A look at which institutions, people and other players will be helped, hurt and otherwise affected by the student loan measure recently enacted by Congress -- and how it positions them for the future.
Student Loan Bill Scorecard (Inside Higher Ed)
NSF REPORT: STIMULUS BOOSTED FEDERAL R&D SPENDING IN 2009
The legislation that Congress passed last winter to stimulate the economy ratcheted up federal spending on research and development in the 2009 fiscal year, the National Science Foundation said in a report Wednesday. The NSF said that total federal R&D spending rose by 12.2 percent in 2009, to $157 billion from $140 billion in 2008. Virtually all of the increase came in non-defense spending, with most of the gain coming in health-related research and in general science research.
NSF Report: Recovery Act Funding Boosts FY 2009 Federal R&D to an Estimated $157 Billion, 12% Over FY 2008 Total (nsf.gov)