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Tax Reform Update

As Congress worked to enact tax reform legislation, OGR and the entire U of I System worked to ensure that the voices of universities and students were heard. We made sure members of Congress and their staff knew about our top concerns before and during the conference negotiations, and collaborated with Illinois Connection on a call to action that resulted in hundreds of emails to Congress. 

The final bill protects several key provisions of current law that help make higher education more affordable and accessible. Specifically, it:

  • Maintains the tax-free status of tuition waivers for graduate students
  • Preserves current deductions for interest on student loans
  • Retains the Lifelong Learning Credit
  • Retains the ability of universities to provide tax-free tuition assistance for employees and their dependents

However, it includes other provisions that will increase costs for universities, and may make it more difficult to raise the private gifts that are now so crucial to support our students, our academic programs and our research.

House Education Committee Clears HEA Reauthorization Bill

The House Education and Workforce Committee approved legislation, dubbed the PROSPER Act, to reauthorize and make sweeping changes to the Higher Education Act. Among other provisions, the bill would replace the federal Direct Loan program with a new unsubsidized loan program, eliminate the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program, make graduate student ineligible for Federal-Work Study (FWS) and eliminate time-based loan forgiveness. Higher ed associations weighed in to express concerns about the legislation, which now awaits action by the full House. OGR will continue to inform our delegation about the impact the bill would have on our students as the reauthorization process continues.

UI Health Participates in COPD Panel

Jerry Krishnan, UIC associate vice chancellor for population health sciences, was among several panelists in a Capitol Hill briefing sponsored by Research!America that showcased the contributions of federal health services research in improving care and outcomes in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Dr. Krishnan spoke about factors that lead to COPD exacerbations and hospitalizations, the impact of these hospitalizations, and the importance of federally-funded research in helping health systems make decisions about the care of people with COPD.

Urbana-led Center of Excellence Hosts International Workshop in DC
 Dr. Stephen Dennis (DHS), Dr. Aaron Mannes (DHS), Dr. Meredith Lee (UC Berkeley), Mr. Anil Chaudary (US Custom and Border Protection)

The Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI), a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center of Excellence led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, recently hosted an international workshop in the DC-area focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Quantum Information (QI) in Homeland Security. Through presentations, panels and open forums, this two-day workshop enabled discussion between American and Canadian government officials, industry, and academia on how AI and QC could affect the future of infrastructure security and public safety, as well as how those affects may change the operational posture of homeland security and defense agencies in the short-, mid-, and long-term time horizons. Gaps and opportunities were identified in this initial workshop to serve as a starting point for DHS and Defence Research and Development Canada to explore potential complementary, working level strategies between agencies.


During a recent visit to Urbana-Champaign, Sen. Tammy Duckworth met with campus leaders and engaged faculty and students from the College of Engineering's Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC). In addition to learning more about RailTEC, she toured its Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL), a 3,500–square-foot laboratory that houses multiple testing frames which provide the ability to conduct experiments on railway infrastructure and mechanical components including rail, crossties and fastening systems.


This will be the last e-newsletter for 2017. Happy holidays!


Thank you,

OGR Federal Relations

Paul Weinberger and Melissa Haas