Biden to Shut Down Trump-Era Investigations into Foreign Money in Higher Education

The Biden Administration is planning to ultimately shut down numerous investigations, first launched by President Donald Trump, into foreign money and other insidious influences in American higher education.

As reported by Just The News, a letter from a higher education lobbyist in August summarized the commitment made by Biden’s Education Department (ED) in a virtual meeting on June 23rd. At the meeting, leadership from the American Council on Education (ACE), the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), and other university groups were briefed on the plans by top ED officials.

According to Section 117 of the Higher Education Act, colleges and universities are legally required to file disclosure reports twice per year detailing any gifts from, or contracts with, foreign entities that are worth $250,000 or more. Under the Trump Administration, enforcement of Section 117 was greatly expanded, leading to multiple high-profile investigations.

The higher education lobbyists insisted in the June meeting that the Biden Administration had done little to reverse these policies. In the August 16th letter, Senior Vice President of ACE Terry Hartle wrote that “we remain concerned that ED continues to assert” that any school’s failure to report such foreign gifts is a violation of its “Program Participation Agreement” granting any school eligibility to federal student aid.

But later in the letter, Hartle said that he was “pleased to learn that ED plans to close the outstanding Section 117 investigations that remain open.”

However, there was no mention made of any such cancellation plans in the slide deck arranged for the meeting by Education Department General Counsel Lisa Brown and Federal Student Aid COO Richard Cordray. The department has since claimed that the meeting in question was organized by ACE, while COGR has claimed that the Education Department itself called the meeting.

In a public statement, a department spokesman would not clarify as to who called the meeting, nor did he answer as to whether the policy change was premeditated or made as a result of outside requests.

“The Department is committed to helping institutions of higher education understand and comply with the reporting requirements of Section 117,” the statement read, but added that the department is “not in a position to state when it will be closing any of the investigations.”

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

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