Higher education and congressional partnership: A case study in tax legislation

Kathe Munz Shinham, University of Pennsylvania


Although there is no comprehensive federal policy on higher education, federal policies have financial and operational ramifications for colleges and universities. Therefore, understanding and successfully influencing federal policy can impact the framework, flexibilities and constraints under which U.S. higher education operates and the ease with which it addresses its mission. In this study I investigate how colleges, universities and the higher education associations partnered and interacted with Congress and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to modify the tax reporting requirements tied to the Hope and Lifetime Learning Tax Credits to their collective benefit. Within a qualitative research framework, I use case study methodology that includes a review of documents, interviews with participants in the process, and my own observations. Using Kingdon's model of how policies develop, I researched why and how the issue was placed on the federal policy agenda; who developed solutions to the problem and the process leading to their acceptance; and how the relationships among the parties influenced the process and outcomes. Dominant themes that emerged include the different types of leadership exhibited by legislators, and association and institutional staff and the techniques employed; the importance of educating participants on the underlying problems, concerns, and objectives from all perspectives and presenting realistic solutions for consideration; the commitment of time necessary to be successful; and some unusual aspects of this particular legislation highlighting that success can occur through non-traditional committees and forums. I conclude with recommendations on how higher education might influence policy issues that arise in the future. They include ensuring there is a substantive issue that merits attention by institutions, associations, legislators and federal agencies; monitoring the policy environment and mobilizing action before issues are presented as legislation; and building, nurturing, and utilizing legislative relationships.

Subject Area

Higher education|Political science

Recommended Citation

Shinham, Kathe Munz, "Higher education and congressional partnership: A case study in tax legislation" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3124700.