Public Policy Update

Public Policy Update2004-11-0156Association Newsfalse

November 2004

During the last couple of months, Congress has focused a majority of its attention on the intelligence community and intelligence-related activities of the United States. Congress adjourned the second week of October to focus on the November election and the attendant fundraising responsibilities. Listed below are a few updates:

  • Higher Education Act (HEA) – In a bold move last month, Congress extended the Higher Education Act for one year, through Sept. 30, 2005. This extension will authorize all programs and regulations of the 1998 reauthorization to continue at their current levels of funding or at the amount appropriated for 2005, whichever is greater. With many high-priority items currently vying for Congressional attention (e.g., presidential elections, war in Iraq), this resolution will allow lawmakers to focus on the Higher Education Act reauthorization next year. The federal grant, loan, and work-study programs governed by the Higher Education Act have helped millions of students attend and graduate from the college of their choice and remain a primary focus of the act.
  • The Child Care Access Act – Senators Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Olymipia Snowe (R-Maine) have introduced a bill that would continue and increase a federal grant program to support the participation of low-income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based child care services. The Senate bill, which at press time has not been assigned a number, seeks $75 million and would establish minimum grants of $30,000. This program was originally included in the 1998 Higher Education Reauthorization; however, the funding was cut in half two years ago. The first round of recipients proudly exclaim that this federal grant program has been highly beneficial on their campuses.
  • The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act – Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) introduced a bill in the Senate in July that would establish a matching grants program to support the planning and implementation of programs that would reduce mental health problems at higher education institutions. The bill would also support programs that seek the early intervention and prevention of youth suicide. The bill passed easily in the Senate, but was stalled in the House until it passed toward the end of September. At press time, the bill authorizes the allocation of $5 million in grants for 2005–07; however, the amount could be increased or decreased in conference committee. Grants could be used for the preparation of educational materials, seminars, the operation of hotlines, or training programs about how to respond effectively to students with mental or behavioral health issues.
  • Textbook Affordability Act – on Sept. 14, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a bill that would amend the federal tax code to expand the deduction for college tuition expenses to include expenses for textbooks. The bill was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

If you have an interest in public policy, please consider applying to serve as the next ACUI Public Policy liaison, effective March 2005. For more information, please contact L. Lincoln Johnson, llj@u.washington.edu.

Updated Nov. 9, 2012