Chancellor’s Update: Legislative News

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

This week Congress passed tax reform legislation. The bill will go to the President who is expected to sign it. I am pleased to report that there are at least two positive outcomes for higher education. Under the new law, graduate school tuition waivers will continue to be treated as non-taxable income and student loan interest will still be tax deductible. I extend my thanks to everyone who contacted legislative representatives to urge them to pass legislation that makes higher education more accessible and promotes research and discovery. The final bill, as passed by both chambers, is available here.

With the tax bill soon behind us, the next legislative issue facing colleges and universities is the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The current House version of the bill includes significant changes including the end of Stafford loans which do not accumulate interest while a borrower is enrolled, the elimination of certain federal student grant funding, a requirement to obtain approval from each state in which online students reside, a mandate to provide matching funds for various programs, the requirement that institutions assume increased liability for student borrowers who do not repay loans when they withdraw during a semester, and other terms. The Senate is expected to issue its version in January 2018, followed by House and Senate conferences to produce a joint version. We note that the final tax bill changed significantly after the Senate’s version was issued and the two bodies of Congress debated to produce final legislation.

Working closely with Vice Chancellor of University Relations and Communications Tom Luljak, I will continue to advocate for UWM’s interests with legislators and business and community leaders. Vice Chancellor Luljak will also continue individual and joint lobbying efforts with other regional colleges and universities. Our goal is to ensure that UWM and our higher educational system can continue to improve our graduates’ lives, promote research and discovery, and strengthen the community.

Best regards,

Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee