Washington Insights & Highlights June 13th

By CGS Government Relations Staff

House Begins Appropriations Process for FY 2025 While Senate Delays Markups

The House of Representatives has begun its work on fiscal year (FY) 2025 appropriations legislation. Last week, the House passed FY 2025 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations legislation, which is the first of 12 bills. The House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Tom Cole (R-OK), plans to continue working on the remaining appropriations bills this month and into early July. The committee will mark-up the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies bill on June 28, followed by the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies bill on July 9. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill will then be considered on July 10.

The Senate has yet to begin work on FY 2025 appropriations legislation. According to media reports, appropriators will delay starting mark-ups until July due to ongoing negotiations over topline spending levels. In a press release last month, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-WA) called for greater investments in non-defense discretionary agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health.

Recently, the Council of Graduate Schools sent letters to House and Senate appropriators requesting $11.9 billion for the National Science Foundation and $9.5 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. CGS also sent letters to the House and Senate appropriators requesting $3.3 billion in funding for Higher Education programs at the U.S. Department of Education and $50 billion for the National Institutes of Health.

For more information on fiscal year 2025 appropriations, please view CGS’s Budget and Appropriations webpage and the FY25 Funding for CGS Programs of Interest document.


Upcoming Department of Education Webinars on GE and FVT

The U.S. Department of Education has announced a series of webinars on reporting data for gainful employment and financial value transparency. The first webinar, “How to Report FVT/GE Data to NSLDS,” will take place on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. ET. This webinar will provide the necessary technical and operational details for compliance, including reviewing and correcting Completers Lists before the October 1, 2024, deadline. The second webinar, “Federal Update,” will be held on Wednesday, September 25, 2024, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. ET, and will provide a high-level overview of recent and relevant guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and the Office Federal Student Aid on Title IV programs.

To register for the webinars please visit the Department of Education’s webpage here.


NSF Proposes New Research Security Framework

The issue of research security has been a high priority for presidential administrations and Congresses over the years. Recently, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a new risk mitigation process called the Trusted Research Using Safeguards and Transparency (TRUST) framework. According to the NSF, this new framework will “help safeguard U.S. taxpayer investments in research and innovation while strengthening international collaboration.” Rebecca Keiser, Chief of Research Security Strategy and Policy said, “This new framework represents a major step in pivoting from a compliance culture to a research security culture.” In her comments, Dr. Keiser also underscored the importance of engaging the research community, industry, and other federal agencies to identify and address potential security risks.

This newly established framework was guided by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which “directs NSF to identify research areas that may involve access to controlled unclassified or classified information and exercise due diligence in the granting process.” The TRUST framework will be rolled-out in three phases over the course of fiscal year 2025.


New Report on Foreign Malign Influence in Higher Education

The Homeland Security Academic Partnership Council (HSAPC) recently convened to review and approve its report on Foreign Malign Influence in Higher Education. The HSAPC is an advisory committee established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to provide timely, strategic, and actionable recommendations to DHS Secretary Mayorkas on issues that relate to the intersection of education and academia with the DHS mission.

In this report, the HSAPC Subcommittee on Foreign Malign Influence (FMI) offers guidance and recommendations to higher education institutions on research security and Transnational Repression (TNR). While the federal government is still trying to fully understand and define TNR, TNR activities are identified as foreign governments which seek to harass, intimidate, or stalk certain individuals outside of their home countries to exert influence in the United States.

According to the report, foreign actors employ various tactics to achieve FMI, including monitoring and intimidating students on U.S. campuses or targeting their overseas families; funding research and academic programs that promote their own favorable views and outcomes; and stealing the resources, expertise, and products of academic research conducted at colleges and universities.

The HSAPC Subcommittee offers the following recommendations concerning research security:

  1. Inform universities of the threat landscape, trends, and update research security case studies.
  2. Coordinate with other research agencies on research security issues and utilize existing programs to engage universities.
  3. Engage with university and Asian-American groups to limit inadvertent harm of policies or enforcement actions on academic researchers and consider staff training opportunities.

The HSAPC Subcommittee offers several recommendations concerning TNR including: the designation of agency and university points of contact and TNR reporting mechanisms to ensure communication between the FBI, DHS, other agencies, and university administrators; and the establishment of timely data sharing and the development of better tools to quantify instances of TNR on campuses.


New Interest Rates Released for Federal Loans

The U.S. Department of Education has released interest rates for Federal Direct Loans which will be disbursed between July 1, 2024, and June 30, 2025. For undergraduate loans, the interest rate will be capped at 6.53 percent. For unsubsidized graduate loans, the interest rate will be capped at 8.08 percent. For parent PLUS loans, the interest rate will be capped at 9.08 percent. Interest rates for Stafford, PLUS/SLS, and Consolidation Loans made before 2006 will be 5.40 percent. Loans made after 2006 are subject to fixed rates.


Changes to NIH Institutional Training Grant Applications and Required Data Tables

Earlier this month, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced updates to its Institutional Training Grant applications. As part of this announcement, NIH hosted a webinar on June 5 that outlined the changes to the application, including an updated Recruitment Plan to Enhance Diversity, clarification concerning mentor training, and updated institutional training data tables that will promote consistent information collection across training programs.

For more information about updates to the NIH Institutional Training Grant Application process, visit the NIH Grants and Funding webpage.