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FSU Responds to Tax Reform Proposals

FSU Responds to Tax Reform Proposals

The House and Senate tax reform bills moving forward on Capitol Hill have drawn intense push-back from the higher education community. The bills contain troublesome provisions for students and institutions, increasing educational costs for millions. In particular, the House bill would tax the tuition reductions that many graduate students depend on, repeal the student loan interest deduction, and tax employer-provided educational benefits. According to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the House bill would cost students and families more than $71 billion over the next decade.

Over the last several days, since the tax bills emerged, FSU has actively engaged its congressional delegation to detail the potential negative impacts on students and the institution. FSU advocacy in response to the tax reform proposals has moved forward in tandem with the advocacy of universities across the nation and the national higher education associations. Additionally, Members of Congress are hearing directly from their constituents. The push on tax reform will resume in the Senate after Thanksgiving. Additional details will be posted to this site as they become available.

Jonathan Nurse

Senate to Consider Tax Bill After Thanksgiving

Yesterday, on a largely party-line vote of 227-205 (13 Republicans joined with Democrats to vote no), the House of Representatives approved its tax reform legislation. Later in the day, the Senate Finance Committee voted to advance its own tax reform package. The full Senate will consider the bill after Thanksgiving.

If Senate Republicans are able to address concerns from within their caucus and gain support from 50 senators, their package will pass. At that point, the House will either accept the Senate bill -- if it appears that it's the only package that can win Senate approval -- or enter into a negotiation to find a bill that can make it through both chambers. Both bills contain significant problems for students and public universities, including:

House Bill –

  • Repeal of Lifetime Learning Credit without an equivalent increase to the other relevant credit (American Opportunity Tax Credit);
  • Repeal of the Student Loan Interest Deduction;
  • Repeal of the exclusion from income for qualified tuition reductions;
  • Repeal of the exclusion from income for employer-provided education assistance programs;

Senate (Finance Committee) Bill –

  • Elimination of some tax-exempt bond options, which will make it more expensive to renovate and build necessary facilities;
  • Repeal of the deduction for college-age dependents;
  • Repeal of the university exemption from unrelated business income tax (UBIT) for the sale or licensing of its logo or name;
  • UBIT computed separately for each unrelated business or trade, preventing offset of liability by other components of the institution;

Senate (Finance Committee) and House Bills –

  • Changes to the standard deduction and charitable deduction, which will reduce donations to universities;
  • New 20% excise tax on compensation in excess of $1 million (salary and/or benefits) paid to the five highest paid employees; and
  • Repeal of the deduction for the donations that allow the right to purchase tickets to athletic events.

House - Senate Tax Reform Comparison

Higher Education Groups' Tax Reform Letter to the Senate

Higher Education Groups' Tax Reform Letter to the House


Jonathan Nurse

NSF Virtual Grants Conference

The National Science Foundation invites virtual participation in its Fall 2017 Grants Conference, which will be held in Phoenix Arizona. The event and webcast will take place November 13-14. According to NSF, the plenary sessions will provide "key insights into a wide range of current issues at NSF including: the state of current funding, new and current policies and procedures, and pertinent administrative issues."

Webcast Registration


Jonathan Nurse

NOAA Research Update Call on October 26

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Research, is invites interested individuals to participate in an update conference call on Thursday, October 26, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. EDT. The session will include a brief update from the agency as well as a question and answer period. Email to RSVP and receive the call-in information.

Jonathan Nurse

National Science Board Releases Assessment of NSF Merit Review

National Science Board Releases Assessment of NSF Merit Review

The National Science Board has made public their latest review of the National Science Foundation's merit review process. From the executive summary:

"The general picture presented by the data is one of a period of relative stability in the rate of proposal submissions and awards since FY 2012, when averaged across NSF as a whole.

In FY 2016, NSF acted on 49,285 competitively reviewed full proposals. This is similar to the number of proposals acted on in FY 2015 (49,620). In FY 2012, two large divisions began requiring the submission of preliminary proposals for most programs within those divisions. The total number of full proposals and preliminary proposals acted on by NSF in FY 2016 (53,869) was very close to the total number of full proposals and preliminary proposals acted on in FY 2015 (53,871).

The Foundation made 11,877 awards in FY 2016, 130 (1.1%) fewer than in FY 2015. This corresponds to a 24% success rate for competitively reviewed proposals... the average funding rate varies by NSF directorate, from a low of 20% in Engineering, to a high of 31% in Geosciences."

The report delves deeper into gender, race, and other PI characteristics.

Full NSB Report on NSF Merit Review Process

Jonathan Nurse

NSF Seeks Input on Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure Needs

The National Science Foundation requests information from the science and engineering community on existing and future needs for mid-scale research infrastructure projects. The request is a result of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, which directs NSF to conduct a needs assessment and develop a strategy. The deadline to provide input for consideration is December 8.

NSF Request for Information- Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure

Jonathan Nurse

FSU Engages NIH on New Clinical Trials Definition

FSU Engages NIH on New Clinical Trials Definition

The National Institutes of Health recently implemented a policy to expand the definition of a clinical trial in order to promote quality and increase transparency in research. While the goal is shared by scientists, the new policy has already proven problematic by rolling much basic research into the review and reporting processes commonly reserved for actual clinical trials.

The FSU Office of research provided NIH with specific examples of the impact of the new policy, echoing statements from national higher education groups such as the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Jonathan Nurse

State of Play: FY18 Begins with Uncertain Budget

Fiscal Year 2018 begins this Sunday, October 1, with federal funding levels still yet to be determined on Capitol Hill. Federal agencies are slated to operate through December 8 on a temporary funding measure, or continuing resolution (CR), that sets spending at the FY 2017 level for now. The CR gives Congress and the White House additional time to overcome some significant obstacles.

To date, the House and Senate have gone forward in the FY 2018 appropriations process with very different priorities and frameworks for funding the government. The House advanced increases in defense spending alongside cuts to the non-defense discretionary budget. Meanwhile, the Senate moved forward with a more balanced approach that would bust through spending caps established back in 2011. However, both chambers produced spending bills that have largely ignored the deep cuts to R&D proposed by President Trump in May.

Congress will need forge a bipartisan deal on a budget framework in the weeks ahead in order to determine agency funding ahead of the December 8 expiration of the CR. Such a bill will likely need to relax the 2011 spending caps for 1-2 years for both the defense and non-defense discretionary portions of the budget in order to advance.

White House Press Release on H.R. 601


Jonathan Nurse

NSF Announces Support for Research Stemming from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey

The National Science Foundation has announced its intention to support research projects related to Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. According to a message from the director,

"NSF has a long history of advancing research that helps the nation improve its preparation, response and recovery from catastrophic events. Data about the forces behind these events can inform strategies to mitigate their effects in the future...

NSF relies on several programs to quickly distribute research resources. NSF’s Rapid Response Research (RAPID) supports projects with severe urgency regarding the availability of or access to data, facilities or specialized equipment including quick-response research on natural disasters. Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) are another source of rapid funding and provide support to conduct fundamental research representing exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. Researchers can also request supplemental funding to existing awards. Details on these funding options are available in NSF’s recent "Dear Colleague" letters found on the Natural Disasters webpage."

Hurricane Irma Dear Colleague Letter

Hurricane Harvey Dear Colleague Letter

Jonathan Nurse

Rep. Dunn Seeks Your Input on Tax Reform

Rep. Dunn Seeks Your Input on Tax Reform

Representative Neal Dunn and the House majority have requested input from stakeholders to help inform any tax reform legislation that they put forward.

The package may impact several items of interest to the academic community including tax credits for higher education, student loan interest deduction, as well as the charitable deductions that schools use to encourage philanthropy. In a July letter to the Senate Finance Committee, the American Council on Education touched on many of these issue. The letter was joined by 18 other national higher education associations.

You can share your input through an online form shared by Rep. Dunn's office.

Jonathan Nurse