Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed two bills related to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act- HR 4983 Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act and HR 3136 Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2013. Originally introduced in June, the bills were marked-up and passed out of committee in the second week of July.
The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act would eliminate the College Navigator and its associated affordability and transparency lists, and state higher education charts released by ED. In its place would be a College Dashboard Website, which would be developed and maintained by ED. The Dashboard would include institutional-level information, including: enrollment data, completion rates, costs, financial aid offered, and cohort default rates.
The Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2013 will relax federal financial aid rules to allow up to twenty institutions to offer competency-based degrees. A series of amendments to the bill were offered and accepted, most notably an amendment that calls for a demonstration project of using the tax return as the financial aid application.
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 these bills will see any significant movement until the new Congress enters next January.
Publication Date: 7/24/2014