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Welcome to the fourth installment in our monthly public policy primer, Policy Matters. Each issue has the latest updates and actionable items in public policy for adult and nontraditional education stakeholders. 

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Welcome to the third installment in our monthly public policy primer, Policy Matters. Each issue has the latest updates and actionable items in public policy for adult and nontraditional education stakeholders.  Please note that you must sign up with this form in order to receive these emails.

Major Updates

Other Reads

We’d like your input! Like this format? . For more information on UPCEA government affairs, contact Jordan DiMaggio ().

Follow Policy Matters for conversation about ongoing public policy efforts, to stay abreast of major news stories, and to contribute your insights on the policy space. We hope this newsletter makes you better informed on public policies that may impact your institution, students, and the broader higher education community. 

Major Updates

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We’d like your input! Like this format? . For more information on UPCEA government affairs, contact Jordan DiMaggio (


UPCEA, along with Higher Learning Advocates, and 17 other organizations, signed a letter supporting the ​Closing the College Hunger Gap Act of 2019​. This legislation would provide college students who may be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with eligibility and application information and would require the Department of Education to collect data on food and housing insecurity.

Food insecurity is a growing and serious problem for today’s students. Estimates show that about one-third of college students experience some form of food insecurity. Further, while 18 percent of college students qualify for SNAP benefits, only three percent of students actually receive such benefits. With the pressing cost of tuition, work, and family responsibilities that today’s increasingly diverse college students experience, the inability to maintain access to nutritious meals are avoidable obstacles that should not get in the way of students’ postsecondary success.The ​Closing the College Hunger Gap Act of 2019​ would address this critical problem by requiring the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to add measures of homelessness and food insecurity to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), which is conducted every four years describing how students and their families finance postsecondary education. It would also notify students with a zero expected family contribution on FAFSA of their potential eligibility for SNAP benefits. Under this legislation, ED would consult with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other government experts to design the written and electronic information onthe SNAP notification process and assistance under the program.

The Closing the College Hunger Gap Act would significantly empower low-income college students’ with the information they need to reduce food insecurity on college campuses.

Read our letter to Congress here.

Today’s Students Coalition pairs unconventional allies in support of policy changes that reflect the shifting demographics of higher education

WASHINGTONJuly 23, 2019 — Ten of the nation’s leading education advocacy groups today announced the formation of the Today’s Students Coalition, which will advocate for policies responsive to the needs of the most diverse generation of college students. 

“In an economy where the vast majority of jobs will require some form of postsecondary education or training, we need to rethink outdated assumptions about who today’s students are, the reasons why they participate in higher education, and the challenges and opportunities those students face each and every day,” said Kermit Kaleba, Managing Director of Policy for the National Skills Coalition. “We’re proud to partner with the other members of the Today’s Students Coalition to fight for policies that reflect the changing postsecondary landscape and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to succeed.”

According to the Lumina Foundation, more than 41 percent of today’s college students are over age 25. Well over half (58 percent) work full- or part-time, 34 percent are first-generation students, and 42 percent are low-income students. The Coalition draws on a cross-section of higher education organizations focused on this diverse student body, including adult students, parent learners, veterans, low-income students, and first-generation students. Founding members of the coalition include:

The coalition’s founding members recognize the urgent need for policy change and are committed to forging a new consensus, including a focus on three core policy principles:

  • Create Robust Student Supports: Today’s students require policies that support their needs, both inside and outside the classroom.
  • Modernize Student Financial Aid: Today’s students require a student aid system that is accessible, transparent, and adjusted for the realities they face.
  • Connect Learning Opportunities: Today’s students require flexible learning opportunities and connected pathways to and through education and employment.

“American higher education may have evolved over time, but that hasn’t happened by accident: it took students and advocates for affordability, access, and quality coming together to recognize that our mutual interests are greater than our biggest differences,” said Julie Peller, executive director of Higher Learning Advocates, which serves as the lead convener of the coalition. “We’re now at another moment for reforming American higher education by rethinking the policies that support it. We all share the belief that we need to rethink outdated assumptions about who today’s students are, the reasons why they choose to invest in higher education, and the challenges and opportunities students face each and every day.”

To learn more about Today’s Students Coalition and sign up for updates, visit

About the Today’s Students Coalition: The Today’s Students Coalition is a cross-cutting group of policy, advocacy, and membership organizations that have joined forces to advocate for urgently-needed policy changes that will better serve today’s students. The Coalition is focused on supporting this diverse student body, which includes working adults, parent learners, veterans, and first-generation students.

UPCEA, along with American Council on Education and 42 other higher education associations wrote Senate leadership to urge legislation as soon as possible to provide permanent protection for “Dreamers,” young, undocumented, high-achieving individuals who contribute to our college and university system.

Senators Graham and Durbin reintroduced the bipartisan Dream Act of 2019 (S.874), which was first introduced nineteen years ago, that would allow many Dreamers to earn lawful permanent residence in the United States and a path to citizenship. The bill focuses on the special case of talented and productive young people who came to this country at a very young age because of the actions of their parents. They are educated, English-speaking, and grew up with American values and traditions, making them American in every way except in immigration status. But these outstanding individuals are forced to live in an untenable political and legal limbo. They work and pay taxes. They serve in the military and teach in our schools. And tens of thousands of Dreamers have earned or are striving to earn a college degree. They consider America to be their only home. In addition, the House of Representatives recently passed the American Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), which would provide a long-term legislative fix for Dreamers, as well as those with Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure, who have seen their status rescinded and also live in uncertainty. Numerous studies have demonstrated that these individuals contribute substantially to the U.S. economy. According to Cato Institute estimates, deporting those with DACA status would cost over $60 billion in lost tax revenue and result in a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.

Colleges and universities have seen these remarkable young people up close, in our classrooms and as our colleagues and friends. Despite the challenges they face, they have made incredible contributions to our country and its economy and security. If we are unable to protect them, we will be shutting the door to an entire generation of individuals who seek to contribute their best to America.

Read the letter in full

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We’d like for your input! Like this format? . For more information on UPCEA government affairs, contact Jordan DiMaggio (

UPCEA joined with ACE and 35 other organizations yesterday to send a letter to the House Committee on Appropriations as they were approving spending bills for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education for fiscal year 2020. Today, the House Committee on Appropriations approved its bill, allocating $75.9 billion to the Department of Education (ED). The measure would increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $150 and boost funding for the National Institutes of Health by $2 billion, among the overall increases for student aid, higher education programs, and research.  We joined with ACE and 35 other higher education associations sent a letter to the committee in advance of the vote, expressing support and noting that the funding levels, if enacted, would “have a profoundly positive impact on the millions of college students who rely on federal financial aid to afford college.”

“The funding levels provided in this bill would, if enacted, have a profoundly positive impact on the millions of college students who rely on federal financial aid to afford college. The bill provides a $150 increase in the maximum Pell Grant, an increase that allows the grant to keep pace with inflation,” the groups wrote. “The bill also recognizes the vital role biomedical research plays in improving the quality of life for all Americans, while also strengthening our economy and global competitiveness, by providing a $2 billion increase in funding for research at the National Institutes of Health. ”

The $75.9 billion for ED includes $24.9 billion for federal student aid programs ($492 million above FY 2019) and $2.7 billion for higher education programs ($431 million above FY 2019). (Click here for a detailed breakdown of these totals.)

This legislation is a starting point​ for negotiations for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to approve any spending bills.

Click here to read our letter to Chairwoman Lowey and Ranking Member Granger.

As part of the Department of Education’s recent and wide-ranging negotiated rulemaking, negotiators reached consensus on all of the topics discussed during their sessions. With only three minutes remaining in the time allotted for negotiators to do their work, before the entire process would have been for naught, all negotiators agreed on changes to regulatory items like regular and substantive interaction, state authorization, accreditation, TEACH grants, among others. The topics were split amongst three subcommittees to work on and provide recommendations to the full committee to consider. Many of the most controversial topics that the Department had proposed in their initial drafts were rejected. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos applauded the efforts, “(r)ethinking higher education required each person at the negotiating table to challenge assumptions and examine past practice in order to better serve students. I commend them for doing just that.” Some critics seemed to think the changes might go too far, and open up items like accreditation and weaken safeguards on students. Others state that negotiators may have acted to enact the provisions reviewed and weighed in on by negotiators, as imperfect as they might be, to avoid the alternative outcome of allowing the Department to fully write the rules themselves, which would have occurred if consensus was not reached.

Even though consensus was reached, the regulations are not yet complete or going into effect. The Department now must publish the proposed regulations over the next few months, allow for a public comment period, review that feedback, and release their version of the final regulations by November 1st in accordance with the legislative calendar, to be sure that the regulations will have an effective start date of July 1, 2020. If the November deadline is missed, the earliest the regulations could go into effect would be July 1, 2121, which may see a new presidential administration, with changed priorities (thus starting the process over, once again). Ongoing Congressional discussions and actions on items like Higher Education Act reauthorization could also affect these regulations.

Department of Education Page on 2018-19 Negotiated Rulemaking

On March 21st, President Trump signed an executive order on “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability on Campus” that directs federal agencies which provide funding for university research to be sure that they are funding colleges that support free speech on their campuses. This was an “historic action to defend American students and American values that have been under seige,” Mr. Trump said. It is still not clear how exactly the enforcement of this executive order may play out. Many believe that the executive order does little which other existing law already requires.