Recent changes to tax laws have had a significant impact on higher education. One of the most significant changes was the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, which resulted in a number of changes to the tax code that affected colleges and universities. One major change was the repeal of the tax-exempt status for advance refunding bonds, which has made it more difficult for institutions to refinance their debt. Additionally, the law placed a new excise tax on certain endowments, which has created new financial burdens for some institutions. Other tax law changes have affected employee benefits and compensation. For example, the law placed a new excise tax on executive compensation above a certain threshold, which has forced some institutions to rethink their compensation policies. The law also eliminated the ability for employees to deduct unreimbursed business expenses, which has affected many employees in higher education who may have previously deducted expenses such as professional development or travel.
Accreditation is a process by which educational institutions are evaluated for their quality, performance, and effectiveness in meeting certain standards. The accreditation requirements for higher education institutions are set by accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. These requirements are continuously evolving and changing, and colleges and universities must stay up-to-date on the latest standards to maintain their accreditation status.
In recent years, there have been several changes to the accreditation requirements for higher education institutions. For example, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of the largest regional accrediting agencies, recently revised its criteria for accreditation to include a greater focus on student success and learning outcomes. The new criteria require institutions to demonstrate how they are meeting the needs of their students and preparing them for success in their careers and in life.
Other accrediting agencies have also made changes to their requirements, such as placing more emphasis on institutional research and assessment, promoting diversity and inclusion, and ensuring the quality of online education programs. These changes can have a significant impact on colleges and universities, as they may require new investments in resources and personnel to meet the new standards.
It is important for higher education finance and administration leaders to be aware of these changes and to work closely with their institutions' accreditation teams to ensure compliance with the latest standards. By doing so, they can help their institutions maintain their accreditation status and ensure the continued success of their students.
Federal Funding Priorities
The federal government plays a significant role in funding higher education in the United States. Changes in federal funding priorities can have a significant impact on colleges and universities, as well as on the students they serve. In recent years, there have been significant shifts in federal funding priorities, with an increasing emphasis on workforce development and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education.
To ensure access to federal funding, colleges and universities must be aware of these shifting priorities and adjust their programs and policies accordingly. For example, institutions may need to develop new programs that align with federal priorities, or they may need to demonstrate the alignment of their existing programs with these priorities. Additionally, institutions may need to develop partnerships with industry or community organizations to meet the workforce development needs of their region.
Navigating the changing federal funding landscape also requires careful attention to compliance with federal regulations and reporting requirements. This includes requirements related to the use of federal funds, reporting on student outcomes, and complying with federal regulations related to civil rights and nondiscrimination.
Overall, staying up-to-date with federal funding priorities and compliance requirements is essential for colleges and universities to successfully navigate the changing regulatory landscape and continue to meet the needs of their students and communities.
Strategies for Compliance and Advocacy
With the constantly evolving regulatory landscape in higher education, it is important for colleges and universities to stay informed and proactive in their compliance efforts. Here are some strategies for navigating regulatory changes and advocating for the needs of your institution:
- Stay up-to-date on regulatory changes: Subscribe to relevant newsletters and follow industry associations to stay informed about new regulations and policy changes that may affect your institution. Attend conferences and workshops to learn about best practices and engage with peers on regulatory compliance.
- Conduct internal assessments: Regularly assess your institution's compliance with regulatory requirements and identify areas for improvement. This includes reviewing policies and procedures, conducting training sessions for employees, and implementing controls to ensure compliance.
- Build relationships with regulators: Establish relationships with regulatory agencies and participate in public comment periods to advocate for your institution's needs. This can also involve working with industry associations to advocate for regulatory changes that benefit higher education.
- Leverage technology: Use technology to streamline compliance efforts and increase efficiency. For example, implementing an electronic document management system can help ensure compliance with recordkeeping requirements, while an automated compliance monitoring system can help track compliance across different departments.
By staying informed, conducting regular assessments, building relationships with regulators, and leveraging technology, colleges and universities can navigate the changing regulatory landscape and ensure compliance with new laws and regulations.
Challenges and Future Directions
As the regulatory landscape continues to evolve, colleges and universities face ongoing challenges in navigating the complex web of regulations and ensuring compliance. The changing political environment and shifting federal priorities add to the uncertainty, making it difficult to plan for the future. Moreover, the pace of change is accelerating, with new regulations and laws being introduced at an unprecedented rate.
One major challenge is the increasing focus on accountability and transparency, particularly in the areas of student outcomes and financial management. Colleges and universities must demonstrate that they are providing a high-quality education and using resources efficiently and effectively. This requires collecting and analyzing data on student performance and using it to make evidence-based decisions. It also requires a focus on financial sustainability, with institutions being held accountable for their use of public funds.
Another challenge is the need to balance compliance with innovation. While regulations are designed to protect students and ensure that institutions are meeting certain standards, they can also stifle innovation and prevent institutions from experimenting with new approaches to teaching and learning. Colleges and universities must find ways to innovate within the confines of the regulatory framework and advocate for changes that will enable them to better serve their students.
In the future, it is likely that regulatory changes will continue to be a major issue for higher education finance and administration. With the ongoing debate over the value and purpose of higher education, there will likely be continued scrutiny of colleges and universities and increased pressure to demonstrate their relevance and value. At the same time, technological advancements and changing student needs will require institutions to be flexible and adaptable in their approach to education. The key to success will be for institutions to stay informed, be proactive in their approach to compliance, and remain focused on their mission of serving students and advancing knowledge.