US Department of Education Seeks Comments on Proposed Foreign Gift Reporting Form
On Sept. 6, the US Department of Education issued a notice seeking comments on a proposed form for U.S. colleges and universities to report foreign gifts and contracts. Public comments are due by Nov. 5, 2019.
While foreign gift and contract reporting has been required by Section 117 of the Higher Education Act for more than 30 years, the Department of Education has not issued formal guidance clarifying how colleges and universities can comply with the law. Despite the lack of guidance, the department is investigating multiple institutions regarding their compliance with requirements in Section 117.
Section 117 requires higher education institutions to file a disclosure report with the department if they receive gifts from or enter into a contract with a foreign source the value of which is $250,000 or more. This requirement applies to gifts considered alone or in combination with all other gifts from or contracts with that foreign source within a calendar year.
Last month, CASE sent a letter to the Department of Education highlighting numerous issues in need of guidance and urging the department to initiate a formal rulemaking process. The notice appears to be the department's attempt to address these concerns. However, the proposed form requires information beyond what is stipulated in current law, including copies of contracts and gift agreements and a requirement that affiliated organizations such as institutionally related foundations report gifts and contracts as well. Information submitted through the form would likely be subject to public disclosure.
CASE is working with the American Council on Education and our higher education association colleagues on this issue and will continue to weigh in with the department. We will provide additional information on the CASE Advocacy Network. Please contact Brian Flahaven, CASE”s senior director for advocacy, at [email protected] if you have questions, comments or concerns about the notice.