Foreign Gift Reporting
U.S. colleges and universities that receive charitable gifts from a foreign source, the value of which is $250,000 or more within a calendar year, must file a disclosure report with the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education twice a year. Additional disclosures are required for restricted or conditional gifts/contracts and for institutions who are owned or controlled by a foreign entity.
The reports are due on January 31 and July 31, whichever is sooner. The reporting requirements fall under the Section 117 of the Higher Education Act. This federal foreign gift reporting requirement was enacted more than thirty years ago. However, the Department of Education has never issued formal guidance or regulations for the requirement, leaving institutions to interpret the law on their own.
On June 22, 2020, the Department of Education announced the implementation of a new online reporting system through which institutions must submit their Section 117 information.
How to Report
Institutions must submit their foreign gift reports using the new reporting system, available at https://partners.ed.gov/ForeignGifts. See the Department’s fact sheet, specifically under Appendix A, to understand what information must be reported.
Institutions should no longer report foreign gifts or contracts on the E-App in question 71. If your institution submitted an E-App prior to June 22, 2020, those gifts or contracts already reported do not need to be re-submitted using the new system. Advancement staff should coordinate with their president/chancellor's, financial aid and/or chief financial officer's office when submitting the form.
Below is Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, which outlines the disclosure requirement and the information that institutions must include in their disclosure reports, along with additional resources. Background information and additional resources related to Section 117 can be found on the Department’s website.
For more information, visit the Department’s announcement of the new reporting portal.
Legislative and Regulatory Issues on Foreign Gift Reporting
The Department of Education is investigating college and university compliance with reporting requirements on foreign gifts and contracts. The increased scrutiny is a result of national security concerns at the Department and in Congress. Without further clarification from the Department of Education, it is difficult, if not impossible, for colleges and universities to comply fully with the requirements of Section 117.
Higher education associations and institutions have sought further clarification of the rules for which formal regulations have never been issued. Guidance is needed with regard to:
- gift reporting,
- definition of a gift,
- gifts to Institutionally Related Foundations and other affiliated entities,
- restricted/conditional gift disclosure, and
- filing missed or amended reports.
On Capitol Hill, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Tom Cotton (R-AR) reintroduced the Foreign Influence Transparency Act, which would lower the threshold that requires U.S. colleges and universities to disclose foreign gifts or contracts from $250,000 to $50,000.
In June 2020, Senator Portman also introduced the Safeguarding American Innovation Act, which would lower the reporting threshold for U.S. colleges and universities receiving foreign gifts from $250,000 to $50,000, and give the Education Department authority to fine institutions that fail to properly report these gifts. The legislation is focused on safeguarding American research developed at U.S. colleges and universities from foreign governments, specifically China.
To stay updated on the latest legislative and regulatory updates, continue to check back here and join the CASE Advocacy Network.
Background and Summary of Issues of Concern, American Council on Education, September 2019
CASE Letter to the U.S. Department of Education, August 2019
Foreign Gifts Under Scrutiny, Insider Higher Ed, July 2019
Foreign Gift and Contract Report, U.S. Department of Education
Reporting of Foreign Gifts, Contracts, and Relationships by Institutions, U.S. Department of Education, October 2004
Section 117 of the Higher Education Act - Disclosure of Foreign Gifts
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