Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed an additional bill related to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, joining two bills passed on Wednesday. HR 4984 Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act was originally introduced in June, and was marked-up and passed out of committee in the second week of July. The bill was passed by a vote of 405-11.
The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act would implement new requirements designed to ensure that students make informed decisions when accepting federal loans and Pell Grants. The bill would change the current one-time entrance counseling requirement for student loans into an annual counseling requirement, and passive confirmation of a subsequent loan would no longer be permitted. Additionally, the bill calls for annual counseling for Pell Grant recipients regardless of whether they are also borrowing a loan. The Department of Education would be required to develop consumer-tested, online counseling tools that meet these statutory requirements. A series of technical amendments to the bill were offered and accepted, including one that would ensure that transfer students receive information about their remaining lifetime Pell grant eligibility.
The bill next goes to the Senate, where immediate action is unlikely. While the House is engaged in a piecemeal approach to reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the Senate is determined to pursue comprehensive legislation. As such, they are not expected to take up the incremental bills being passed by the House. It is unlikely this bill, and the previously passed bills, will see any significant movement until the new Congress enters next January.
Publication Date: 7/25/2014