Blog Post: Federal Policy Updates

Dr. Ray Plaza, who serves as a member of the ACPA External Advisory Board. 
Emily Mee, Past Intern for ACPA
Tricia Smith, Director-Elect for External Relations for ACPA
Chris Moody, Executive Director of ACPA

Raising Smoking Age to 21

The first issue deals with potential legislation introduced in Congress that raises the national smoking age to 21 and restricting tobacco sales to anyone under 21. Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia have passed such policies, while some have not enacted them. The 18 states that have passed policies raising the smoking age to 21 and restricting tobacco sales to anyone under 21 are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington along with Washington, D.C. 

While many campuses are already smoke-free and prohibit smoking within the residence halls, what are the potential implications on how campuses enforce such policies, especially, for students under the age of 21? In light of the rise of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices, how have campus policies and procedures been updated to reflect these growing trends?

Currently, there has been no formal movement on the federal legislation that has been proposed in the Senate. This might be a good opportunity to review your respective institutional policies and how you have handled potential state-level legislation. Here are some helpful resources if you have particular questions about state policies: American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and Tobaccotwenty-one

If any institutions want to share how you have handled any state changes to raising the age to 21, please share your feedback in the comments section listed below the blog post. We would love to hear your experiences and words of advice on how you handled this situation.

Tax on Endowments for Private Colleges and Universities

The second issue pertains to the release of proposed rules by the U.S. Treasury Department on how they will handle the tax on the endowments of private colleges and universities that have more than 500 full-time equivalent students (includes full- and part-time students) and assets of at least $500,000 per student. The tax on endowments was part of the 2017 tax overhaul, and the release of the proposed rules took place in early July 2019.

One of the issues raised is the role of residence halls on a private college and university. Some are arguing that the rental income generated by residence halls could be taxable based on initial reading of the proposed rules.

As a former Residence Life professional, I can attest that a residence hall is not merely a rental property. It is a vibrant learning community that brings students together. Residence halls are invaluable educational environments on college campuses.  This is evidenced by decades of research specific to residential spaces and expanding to all functional areas in Student Affairs units. Professionals continue to deepen both research and practice through annual events such as ACPA’s Institute on the Curricular Approach.  Now is the time to ensure that colleges understand the educational role of the residence hall setting and advocate that they be exempt from being taxed as part of this endowment tax effort.

We encourage residence hall leaders at private colleges and universities to engage with your respective institutional leadership, government relations staff, legal counsel, and other applicable offices to review and study the proposed rules and how they will potentially affect the institution. 

The Treasury department is currently taking comments on the proposed rules and all comments are due by October 1. The American Council on Education (ACE) is spearheading a group of higher education associations that is providing a formal response. To learn more about ACE’s effort,  

As always, we encourage our colleagues to be aware of potential policies and regulations and how they may potentially affect you throughout the coming year. The ACPA External Advisory Board will provide updates.

External links to information created and maintained by other public and private organizations and are provided for the convenience of ACPA-College Student Educators International (ACPA) members. While ACPA strives to make the information shared as timely and accurate as possible, we make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of its contents. Any information obtained from this resource to a specific product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by ACPA, or its producer or provider. The inclusion of external links is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended as an endorsement by ACPA. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s