The Future of Higher Education, Part 2

As you may know, on Friday the final conference report of the House and Senate tax reform bills was released. Earlier versions contained provisions with significant negative implications for the future of higher education, including changes to policies on student and family tuition and loan benefits, bond financing and taxes on endowments. Had all of these changes been enacted, the elimination of these benefits would impede our ability to keep costs down to make a college education accessible and affordable; but most importantly, they would have placed an undue burden upon the students and families that it is our mission to serve.

As a member of the Board of Directors representing the northeastern states and chair of the Committee on Student Aid for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), I spent time with my colleagues over the past few weeks on Capitol Hill, leading advocacy efforts for the elimination of these changes. I also felt it was important to provide a voice in the national and regional news media, and conducted interviews with The New York Times, Reuters, and New England Cable News, amongst others.

I am very pleased that in the final report, private colleges and universities, and the students and families we serve, have survived many of the most harmful proposals, including the preservation of the student loan interest deduction and employer-provided tuition assistance. The endowment tax provision has remained in the bill; it has been raised to $500,000/FTE, which will not affect Saint Anselm College. As you will see below, NAICU has released a helpful checklist of key provisions contained in the final draft:Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 2017 breakdownAmerican private colleges and universities, including Saint Anselm College, make vital contributions to our nation and our world. If this legislation is signed into law (as it is expected to be by the end of this week), we will have to accommodate several changes affecting the financing of our institutions. However, our students and employees will not now be facing devastating changes to their financial situations, and it is to be hoped that higher education will continue to make those invaluable social and economic contributions.

In the future, I hope that members of Congress will enact legislation that helps, rather than hinders, us in our mission to serve students and their families. I pledge always to lend my support and advocacy to that cause.

The Future of Higher Education, Part 1

As you know, the tax reform bill currently under consideration in Congress has significant negative implications for the future of higher education, including changes to policies on student and family tuition and loan benefits, bond financing and taxes on endowments. American private colleges and universities, including Saint Anselm College, make vital contributions to our nation and our world. We are also doing everything possible to keep costs down to make a college education accessible and affordable.

However, the elimination of many benefits important to our institutions and to the students and families we serve will negatively impact our ability to accomplish both of these important goals. I hope that members of Congress will enact legislation that helps, rather than hinders, us in our mission.

I appeared on New England Cable News this week, speaking with Sue O'Connell. You can watch the interview here »

Dec. 14, New York Times: "Republican Tax Bill Overhauls Rules Many Were Counting On"

In ways large and small, the tax bills moving through Congress could penalize individuals for choices they made based on longstanding law. Left unchanged, the bills could drastically alter the financial situations of millions of Americans who cannot easily undo those decisions. Read full text »

“I have been in higher education for almost 30 years, and I have never seen this kind of approach to education,” said Steven DiSalvo, the president of St. Anselm, adding, “It’s mind-boggling to think that we would want to negatively impact the ability to educate our children by taxing a benefit.”

Dec. 13, Reuters: "Grad students plead for mercy from U.S. tax overhaul"

About 145,000 graduate students could be affected by the new tax on tuition, but the impact would also hit about 25,000 undergraduate students, according to the American Council on Education.  Thousands of children of college employees get free or reduced tuition and the tax change would require families to pay taxes on it in the future. Read full text »

“I just scratch my head and wonder what they are thinking,” said Steven DiSalvo, president of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire and the chairman of the student aid committee for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. “The effect on colleges and students would be devastating.”

He noted that many parents choose jobs such as janitors and food service workers at colleges – despite lower pay than in the private sector – so they will be able to send their children to college without tuition. About 51 percent of employees getting the tuition benefit earn less than $50,000 a year, according to the American Council on Education.

Responding to the White House Executive Order

The following message was shared with the Saint Anselm College campus community on Monday, January 30. In addition, I have co-signed statements from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (excerpt/link below), and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, in which nearly 50 higher education associations present a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly requesting a meeting to ensure any efforts to safeguard our nation do not interfere with our nation’s long tradition of educating students from around the world.


On Friday afternoon, the White House issued an Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States,” which addresses new standards for refugee, immigrant, and nonimmigrant entry into the United States.

At present, the ultimate outcome of this order (and subsequent orders and legislation) is uncertain and it may take months for clear policies to develop; however, we know that this may directly impact members of the Anselmian community, from students, faculty and staff to alumni and friends. We advise that those from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen legally residing in the United States avoid travel outside the U.S. during this period if possible and consult an immigration attorney if travel is necessary.

Saint Anselm College is an institution that values the contributions of our international students, faculty and staff deeply. We are committed to providing support and resources to those in need, and to upholding our mission and values of diversity and inclusiveness.

In that spirit, today I am in our nation’s capital, participating in the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU). I would like to share with you an excerpt from the statement released yesterday by this organization:

"Pope Francis has said that 'authentic hospitality is our greatest security against hateful acts of terrorism.' As ACCU gathers…to celebrate the value of diversity within Catholic higher education, we reaffirm the commitment of our institutions to creating inclusive, welcoming campus environments that embrace people of all faiths and cultures. Catholic higher education was founded precisely to serve the children of Catholic immigrants who in their own time were excluded from higher education. This is a legacy that we proudly pledge to continue."

Indeed, hospitality is not only our greatest security against hatred and violence, but also one of the core Benedictine values which we as Anselmians seek always to live. I know that you will join me in keeping the immigrants and refugees of every nation in your thoughts and prayers today and every day.