House Republicans on Tuesday released a summary outlining the party’s priorities for the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), including providing students and families with more information and limiting the federal government’s role in higher education.
Issued by the Republican-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the summary states that the committee will promote HEA reforms that align with the following:
Republicans are calling for several “basic reforms” to improve decision-making among students and families, including bettering the information collected and distributed by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), enhancing financial literacy services, and streamlining information for students to increase transparency. The summary also calls for converting the current financial aid programs into a “one grant and one loan” structure, using prior-prior year data to determine aid eligibility, and continued support for the Federal Work-Study Program.
Other suggestions include streamlining repayment plans to a standard repayment plan and a modified income-based repayment plan and establishing a “Flex Pell Grant” that would allow eligible students to learn of their Pell funds for a six-year period and draw from those funds until they are exhausted or the academic program is completed. NASFAA’s HEA Reauthorization Task Force proposed a similar concept in June 2013.
The summary also highlights the party’s commitment to reducing the federal government’s presence in higher education by eliminating overly burdensome regulations and preventing President Barack Obama’s higher education ratings system.
“While we must increase transparency, it is not the role of the federal government to impose a one-size-fits-all formula that arbitrarily rates institutions, especially when we know that selecting a college or university is a uniquely personal decision for each student and family,” the summary states. “Policies should provide relief to institutions of higher education by repealing unnecessary data reporting requirements and many of the harmful regulations recently promulgated by the [Department of Education], while still delivering strong accountability in federal programs.”
The House is expected to move forward with reauthorization by releasing a series of smaller bills throughout the summer, each based around one of the guiding principles described above. This stands in contrast to the approach being taken in the Senate, where the Democrat-led Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is releasing a draft of a large, comprehensive piece of legislation.
Publication Date: 6/26/2014