We can try to avoid making choices by doing nothing, but even that is a decision.
– Gary Collins
Volume 73 | Issue 6
November 2005

Public Policy Update

Hurricane Katrina

The Department of Education has consolidated information for students, institutions, and lenders affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and posted resources on its Web site. In brief, the department is proposing up to $227 million in funding to: help meet the needs of displaced adults who are in repayment on their student loans; provide aid to colleges and universities receiving displaced students; and provide support to both colleges and universities in the severely storm-damaged areas and the students previously enrolled in those institutions. The most current information is available at the following Web sites:

  • Katrina Fact Sheet: http://www.hurricanehelpforschools.gov/0916-factsheet.pdf
  • Hurricane Help for Schools: http://hurricanehelpforschools.gov/
  • Financial Aid: http://ifap.ed.gov/eannouncements/katrina.html
  • Campus Relief: http://www.campusrelief.org/

Commission on the Future of Higher Education

The secretary of education’s new Commission on the Future of Higher Education had its first meeting on Oct. 17. The agenda for the first meeting included a welcome by department officials followed by a round-table discussion focusing on the strategies for accomplishing their mission as stated in their charter. A written report to the secretary is due by Aug. 1, 2006. The Commission’s Web site is: http://www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/hiedfuture/index.html.

Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act

The budget reconciliation process is impacting the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Both the House and the Senate have their original reauthorization bills, which have passed out of committees, and they have their reconciliation bills that provide the cuts from mandatory spending programs requested by the budget committees. The reconciliation bills will be filed with the budget resolution (reconciliation) and if that passes, the provisions in those bills are passed and will be conferenced and eventually signed into law.

Provisions of the Senate’s reauthorization bill permit distance-learning schools to provide financial aid assistance to students; retain the current State Grant and Partnership Grant programs; enhance the use of technology in instruction; reauthorize programs to support historically black colleges and universities, Native Hawaiian and Alaskan institutions, tribal colleges and universities, and professional or graduate institutions for minority-serving institutions; increase the maximum authorized Pell award to $6,300 over the next five years; permit the Pell grants on a year-round basis, rather than for only two semesters or the equivalent during a single award year; and reauthorize the Federal TRIO and GEAR UP programs, the migrant and seasonal program, the Byrd scholars program, and the Direct Loan program that permits institutions to operate revolving loan funds. More information on reauthorization is available at:

  • House: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:h.r.00609:
  • Senate: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:S.1614.IS:

ACUI public policy efforts

Data collection for the ACUI Public Policy survey has been completed. Results of the survey will be available for the next Public Policy Team update. To join the public policy listserve, e-mail acui@acui.org. To get involved in ACUI’s public policy efforts, please contact ACUI Public Policy Liaison Kim Savage at kim@uic.edu.