DC Digest - August 12, 2011In Today's Issue:
- OPM Proposes Regulations to Improve Pathways to Public Service for Students
- Duke Provides Comments to A-21 Task Force on Regulatory and Reporting Requirements for Universities
- More Details on Student Aid in Debt Deal
- Senate to Take Up Patent Reform in September
- The Next Front in the Pell Grant Fight
- Senate Confirms Duke Alum as Chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Why We Need Fulbrights: National Security and Economic Competitiveness
OPM PROPOSES REGULATIONS TO IMPROVE PATHWAYS TO PUBLIC SERVICE FOR STUDENTS
On Thursday, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued proposed regulations that will offer students and recent graduates more uniform and transparent pathways to public service. As directed by President Obama as part of the hiring reform initiative, the proposed Pathways Programs would improve recruiting and provide for training, mentoring, and career development opportunities. OPM's proposed regulations limit these programs to serve as a supplement to competitive examining, apply veterans' preference, and provide for OPM oversight.
"These regulations commit the federal government to two key goals," said OPM Director John Berry. "First, they require pathways to federal service to be clear and accessible for students and recent graduates. Second, they press us to create a federal culture where agency leadership is actively engaged in recruiting, training, and managing top talent."
OPM Issues Proposed Regulations to Help Recruit and Train Students and Recent Graduates (opm.gov)
DUKE PROVIDES COMMENTS TO A-21 TASK FORCE ON REGULATORY AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS FOR UNIVERSITIES
Duke University officials submitted comments this week in response to an NIH Request for Information on reduction of costs and burdens associated with federal costs principles for educational institutions (otherwise known as OMB Circular A-21).
The Duke letter is a compilation of responses from several Duke University research constituencies: researchers, senior leadership, compliance managers, and experts in federal regulatory compliance. The comments identify burdens as well as recommend changes that "will achieve a thoughtful balance between the federal government’s goals for accountability and transparency and the successful execution of our education and research missions."
Duke University A-21 Response (duke.edu/federalrelations)
A-21 Task Force Request for Information (whitehouse.gov)
MORE DETAILS ON STUDENT AID IN DEBT DEAL
As OFR reported on Tuesday, the Budget Control Act of 2011 contains three main provisions related to student aid. Below is some additional detail provided by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) for each of these three provisions:
- Pell Grants: While many programs faced cuts in this bill, the Pell Grant program was provided with additional mandatory funding for both FY 2012 and 2013. Specifically, the package provides an additional $10 billion in mandatory funds for Pell in FY 2012 and $7 billion for FY 2013, amounts that should come close to preserving a $5,550 maximum award. When the President released his budget in February, Pell faced a projected $20 billion shortfall for FY 2012. The elimination of the Year-Round Pell Grant in the final FY 2011 budget bill reduced this shortfall to $11 billion. Even with the additional mandatory funding provided in the debt reduction package, Pell will still face a $1.3 billion dollar shortfall for FY 2012.
- Interest Subsidy for Graduate Students: The Budget Control Act also eliminates the in-school interest subsidy for graduate and professional students beginning July 1, 2012, a provision that would save $18.1 billion from FY 2012-21, $8.2 billion of which is from FY 2012-16, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The legislative language clarifies that the subsidy elimination does not apply to students taking preparatory coursework and those in programs leading to teacher certification where the credential is awarded by the state instead of the institution.
- Direct Loan Repayment Incentives: Repayment incentives were also eliminated in the final package. The incentive for using automatic debit repayment provided borrowers with a 0.25 interest rate reduction and the up-front interest rebate incentive was equal to 0.5 percent of the loan amount and applied toward the 1 percent loan origination fee. For PLUS loans, the up-front interest rebate was 1.5 percent applied toward the 4 percent origination fee. Borrowers were able to keep the rebate if they made their first 12 payments on time. The language prohibits the Department of Education from authorizing or providing repayment incentives on new loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2012, except that an interest rate reduction may be provided to a borrower who agrees to automatically debited electronic payments. The CBO projects the elimination of the origination fee rebates would yield $3.6 billion from FY 2012-21.
Together, the elimination of the graduate and professional in-school interest subsidy and direct loan repayment incentives yield a savings of $21.6 billion. In total, $17 billion of that is being redirected into the Pell Grant program, with the remaining $4.6 going toward deficit reduction. With the exception of the graduate student interest subsidies, student aid funding was largely shielded from cuts during this process. However, funding for student aid could be targeted for cuts once again during the second phase of this process when the joint congressional committee must come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings.
SENATE WILL TAKE UP PATENT REFORM IN SEPTEMBER
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on August 2 filed a cloture motion on the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (H.R. 1249), the bipartisan patent reform legislation that has already passed the House. Senator Reid stated that he intends to bring the bill up when the Senate returns from its recess in September and hopes for final passage not long thereafter.
THE NEXT FRONT IN THE PELL GRANT FIGHT
Stephen Burd writes in the New America Foundation's Higher Ed Watch blog:
"The debt ceiling legislation that President Obama signed into law [on Tuesday] puts the Pell Grant program in a much stronger position in the short term than it would have been otherwise. But the program is not quite out of the woods yet. Congress is still going to have to do some heavy lifting if it wants to maintain the current maximum grant of $5,550 in the upcoming 2012 fiscal year."
The Next Front in the Pell Grant Fight (Higher Ed Watch)
President Signs Debt Ceiling Bill; Measure Preserves Pell Grants, Cuts Graduate Loan Subsidies (ACEnet.edu)
SENATE CONFIRMS DUKE ALUM AS CHAIR OF JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF
Gen. Martin E. Dempsey was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dempsey, after serving only five months as the Army's chief of staff, will take over the top military position, Oct. 1, following the retirement of Adm. Mike Mullen, Sept. 30. General Dempsey received his MA in English Literature from Duke in 1984.
Senate Confirms Two Soldiers to Top Military Positions (army.mil)
WHY WE NEED FULBRIGHTS: NATIONAL SECURITY AND ECONOMIC COMPETETIVENESS
In an opinion piece that appeared on Forbes.com yesterday, Cornell University’s Glenn C. Altschuler and David J. Skorton argue that Congressional budget cuts to vital cultural-understanding programs are making America less competitive and less secure.
Why We Need Fulbrights (Forbes.com)