The following factors should be considered in the context of changes in political leadership, public opinion and/or regulatory environments and practices.
Recent bans on travel from specific countries may discourage prospective international students from studying in the United States. Heightened screening and visa application scrutiny could present a significant deterrent to foreign students interested in U.S. colleges and universities. Regardless of any specific action or actions, or whether those actions survive future legal challenges, the government's recent measures suggest a less welcoming U.S. posture toward visitors, making our institutions seem less inviting to foreign students.
Executive Order 13769, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. In a pair of executive orders signed in January and March of 2017, the Trump administration directed cabinet secretaries to temporarily ban travelers originating from six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Travelers from Iraq were included in the January order, but subsequently removed.
AAU Comments on New Travel Ban Executive Order - Association of American Universities, 3/6/17
For Students Going Overseas, an ‘America First’ Presidency Complicates Their Studies - The Chronicle of Higher Education, 6/9/17
H-1B Visas. The H-1B visa program creates an avenue to permanent U.S. citizenship for highly educated people from foreign countries. The Trump administration has indicated an interest in modifying H-1B visa application conditions, increasing worker salaries, which could depress demand for foreign talent.
"The H-1B visa program is important to colleges both because many international students look to it as a route to permanent residency in the U.S. and because universities use H-1Bs to hire postdoctoral researchers and others from abroad." Trump Directs Review of H-1B Visas, Inside Higher Ed, 4/19/17
"President-Elect Trump's proposal to discourage companies from employing H-1B workers would likely reduce international student enrollment, if enacted. It would also negatively affect universities with less-known global brands. The uncertainty around immigration policy changes could also discourage international students from enrolling in US schools, which would place further pressure on net tuition revenue." US not-for-profit higher education's diverse revenue sources and sound demand drive steady aggregate revenue growth, Moody's Investor Service, 12/6/16
"Any big changes to the H-1B program would have to be passed by Congress. At least four proposals to reform it have recently surfaced, and USCIS has suspended expedited processing of H-1B applications." The H-1B Visa Debate, Explained, Harvard Business Review, 5/4/17
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). On Sept. 4, 2017, the Trump administration announced plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, on March 5, 2018. The announcement affects more than 800,000 people who will face deportation, including 42,000 DACA enrollees in New York State, the fourth largest such population in the U.S.
"As I have publicly stated recently—and on many occasions in the past—our institution fully supports the DACA program. All students, including DACA students across our state and our nation, should have the opportunity to pursue their educational goals and their professional aspirations. Our mandate as a public research university is to contribute to the educated citizenry that is so critical to a robust democracy." — UB President Satish K. Tripathi, 9/6/17
APLU Urges Swift Congressional Action to, At a Minimum, Codify DACA Provisions into Law - Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities, 9/5/17
AAU Universities Urge Congress to Act on DACA - Association of American Universities, 9/5/17
As one of the Trump administration's stated priorities, federal tax policies are likely to change, complicating forecasts. Proposed changes to the existing tax code could present mixed results for research and educational funding.
"When colleges and universities need capital to pay for new facilities or to expand or renovate existing facilities, they have six primary financing options that can be used individually or combined: (1) pay as you go; (2) philanthropy; (3) grants; (4) new market tax credits or historic tax credits; (5) taxable financing; or (6) tax-exempt bonds." Tax-Exempt Financing by Universities and Colleges, Association of American Universities, 8/23/17
Policy changes at the Department of Education could lead to substantial cuts to some programs. Potential action include caps and cutbacks on Grad PLUS loans, reforms to income-driven repayment plans and changes to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
Education Dept. Ends Partnership With CFPB, Inside Higher Ed., 9/5/17
Higher-than-expected government costs for income-driven repayment plans are used to justify aggressive reforms to student loan programs. The Government Accountability Office estimates the program will cost $74 billion dollars more than anticipated by earlier projections. Education Needs to Improve Its Income-Driven Repayment Plan Budget Estimates, GAO, 11/15/16
Proposed caps on facilities and administrative (F&A) expenses would pose significant risks to universities' ability to conduct research. The Trump administration has proposed the following cuts: National Institutes of Health (NIH), 22%; National Science Foundation (NSF), 11%; Department of Energy (DOE), 17%; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 44%; U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 21%; and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 17%. These would result in UB losing $23 million for conducting research in the first year, if enacted.
"According to data collected by the National Science Foundation, in FY 2015, universities paid $4.8 billion to subsidize unreimbursed F&A costs associated with the conduct of federally sponsored research on university campuses." AAU F&A Letter to Secretary Price and OMB Director Mulvaney, Association of American Universities, 6/17/17
"Capping F&A reimbursements would effectively mean cutting research since universities would not be able to afford to conduct research for the federal government if the research grants would not cover the costs of necessary research infrastructure." Proposed Cuts to Facilities and Administrative Costs, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, 6/17/17
"Science funding is intended to support the production of new knowledge and ideas that develop new technologies, improve medical treatments and strengthen the economy." Who Feels the Pain of Research Budget Cuts?, Association of American Universities, 3/17/17
Job opportunities and debt
Students are graduating with fewer job opportunities and more debt.
The number of graduates enrolled in income-driven repayment plans has increased significantly, from 10 percent in 2013 to 24 percent in 2016, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (Education Needs to Improve Its Income-Driven Repayment Plan Budget Estimates, November 2016). More than 41 million Americans owe more than $1.2 trillion in federal student loan debt (An Updated Look at Student Loan Debt Repayment and Default, June 2017).
Title IX and campus sexual assault
DoE policy changes under Secretary DeVos may include revising Title IX regulations regarding sexual assault on campuses based on the perception that campus involvement in such cases may deny students due process.
"...In a strongly worded speech, [Secretary DeVos] made clear she believed that in an effort to protect victims, the previous administration had gone too far and forced colleges to adopt procedures that sometimes deprived accused students of their rights." Betsy DeVos Says She Will Rewrite Rules on Campus Sex Assault, The New York Times, 9/7/2017
"AAU urges Congress and the Administration to harmonize, streamline, and eliminate unnecessary, duplicative regulations and reporting requirements." Research Regulatory Reform Policy Recommendations, Association of American Universities, 8/11/17
AAU APLU and COGR Comments on DOE Regulatory Reform for 2017, Association of American Universities, 7/14/17
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced his intent to seek a third term as governor of the state of New York in the election to be held Nov. 6, 2018.
2018 New York gubernatorial campaign and election
Among many issues, education has been a priority with Cuomo instituting the first-of-its-kind "tuition free" scholarship model in the U.S. We've made college tuition-free for middle class New Yorkers, Governor's website, retrieved 9/27/17
"In 2018, gubernatorial elections will take place in 36 states; governors taking office in 2019 will influence redistricting following the 2020 census, which will affect state and federal political power until 2032....For higher education, the extent of its funding will depend on whether lawmakers make it a priority in state budget negotiations and the amount of state funding available." Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2017, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, 9/22/17
2018 New York state legislative elections
"Of 35 special elections for state legislature since President Donald Trump's election, Democrats overperformed in 26, meaning they did a lot better than expected, given how Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did in the same district last fall." Democrats Making Startling Gains in State Legislative Elections, U.S. News and World Report, 9/14/17
"...it's the state legislative races that determine policies that affect citizens on a day-to-day basis. With Congress stymied on legislation, states are taking the lead on matters such as abortion, transgender rights, higher education funding and K-12 testing..." Boosting the Farm Teams, U.S. News and World Report, 9/22/17
The Excelsior Scholarship Program could make college education more affordable, and more attractive to prospective students who qualify. The program's annual progress and residency requirements may make the program less attractive to students who take time away from their studies to work, or who wish to live in another state after graduating.
"The Excelsior Scholarship, in combination with other student financial aid programs, allows students to attend a SUNY or CUNY college tuition-free," provided students meet eligibility requirements. Higher Education Services Corporation
"At the state’s community colleges, more than 90 percent of students would not qualify for free tuition based on those requirements. Even at its four-year colleges, 60 percent would be ineligible." New York’s Free-Tuition Program Will Help Traditional, but Not Typical, Students, The New York Times, 4/11/17
"Students must first apply for, and use, other money like federal Pell Grants, before turning to the scholarship. That, in turn, means that low-income students have less to gain from the scholarship than do students from families who are too wealthy to qualify for those grants." Here's the Fine Print on the Country's Biggest-Ever Free College Plan, National Public Radio, 4/11/17
Maintenance of Effort Bills
Recently introduced in the New York State Legislature, Maintenance of Effort bills would require the state to cover increased costs due to mandates placed on SUNY and CUNY campuses from negotiated collective-bargaining agreements and increased operational costs. Gov. Cuomo vetoed the most recent MoE in the last legislative session.
SUNY's new chancellor comes to the position as the system faces significant budgetary challenges, and will play a critical leading role implementing the newly created Excelsior Scholarship.
"The State University of New York Board of Trustees today announced the appointment of Dr. Kristina M. Johnson as the 13th chancellor of SUNY, the largest comprehensive system of public higher education in the United States." SUNY press release, 4/17/17
SUNY Is Set to Make Kristina Johnson, an Engineer, Its Chancellor, The New York Times, 4/24/17
Five things to watch under the new SUNY chancellor, Politico, 4/25/17