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Guidance Issued on Unpaid Interns and FLSA Compliance

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has introduced a new seven-factor test to help determine whether students and interns working at for-profit organizations qualify as employees eligible to receive minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). An update from the previous version, the DOL’s new test is more beneficial to companies and examines the primary beneficiary of the employer-intern work relationship. The new guidance is also applicable to nonprofit organizations that offer interns stipends or other payments that are below the nation’s minimum wage ($7.25/hour).

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College Endowments Highest in Three Years

According to their joint annual study, the National Association of College and University Business Officers (“NACUBO”) and Commonfund are reporting that college endowments are at a three-year high. For the fiscal year ending June 2017, the annual net endowment returns at colleges and universities averaged 12.2 percent. The percentage is a significant jump from the fiscal year 2016 average of -1.9 percent, and it marks the highest average achieved since the fiscal year 2014 (15.5 percent). Despite the turnaround, recent data reveals that the 10-year average annual return decreased from 5 percent in 2016 to 4.6 percent in 2017. More. Read More.

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NCAA Pledges to Reform Men’s Basketball

National Collegiate Athletic Association president Mark Emmert promises to act fast on recent allegations concerning men’s basketball. Ahead of the start of next season, Emmert wants to implement recommendations offered by the NCAA’s independent commission on college basketball. The NCAA created the committee following an unearthed scheme that lured basketball recruits with cash to attend certain schools. Emmert said the NCAA’s Board of Governors had reserved $10 million to carry out the commission’s recommendations, which the NCAA expects to receive in April. Additionally, starting next fiscal year, the NCAA will dedicate $2.5 million annually to reform the sport. Check out Inside Higher Ed for more on the NCAA’s attempts to reform men’s basketball.

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Guidance Proposed on Capitalization of Interest Cost

The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (“GASB”) wants to update guidance on construction period interest costs. In its Exposure Draft, Accounting for Interest Cost during the Period of Construction , the GASB proposes expensing interest costs incurred during the construction period. For financial statements prepared using the current financial resources measurement focus, interest incurred during the construction period would still be categorized as an expenditure on a basis in line with governmental fund accounting principles. If approved, the finalized GASB Statement would be applied to reporting periods starting after December 15, 2018. Early application is encouraged. Comments on the Exposure Draft are due March 5, 2018.

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Report Recommends Improving Educational Quality at Colleges

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has issued a study calling for improved educational quality to help college students excel in the 21st century. In its report, “The Future of Undergraduate Education, The Future of America,” the academy proposes a three-part strategy that ensures first-rate learning experiences, increased completion rates and reduced inequities among higher institutions, and controlled college expenses. While the academy believes technology will help boost educational quality, it anticipates some of its goals could take decades to accomplish. More on the American Academy of Arts and Sciences report is available on the Inside Higher Ed website.

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Federal Student Aid Changes Proposed

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has released a proposal to significantly change how the U.S. government distributes student aid. Announced last week as the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform Act, the plan involves deregulating and restricting oversight of portions of federal aid programs. Proposed changes include simplifying student aid options, eliminating the public service loan forgiveness program, and changing the federal work-study program by distributing money to colleges based on student need. Learn more about the proposed changes to federal student aid is available on the Inside Higher Ed website.

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