HEA Reauthorization Highlighted in Special Edition of NASFAA’s Journal of Student Financial Aid

As the Higher Education Act Moves Toward Reauthorization, Insufficient Financial Resources Should Not Be a Barrier to College Access or Completion, Papers Emphasize

What will the upcoming ninth reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965 mean for students, families, college administrators, and the higher education landscape? Decisions made by Congress during the reauthorization of this law that governs all aspects of the federal financial aid programs for colleges and universities across the nation will have far reaching effects.

In the special edition of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators' (NASFAA) Journal of Student Financial Aid (JSFA), released today, the authors use available research to identify changes that can and should be made to the existing legislation to more fully realize the benefits of the taxpayers’ investment.

The papers in this special issue offer useful insights for state and federal policymakers and institutional financial aid administrators about the changes that are required in order for federal student aid programs to ensure insufficient financial resources are not a barrier to college access, choice, and completion. JSFA authors provide several recommendations for lawmakers as we head into reauthorization, including:

  • Simplify financial aid application processes;
  • Increase predictability of Pell Grant awards;
  • Take measures to incentivize not only enrollment, but also completion;
  • Change the methodology used to allocate federal campus-based aid to higher education institutions; and
  • Create a federal-state partnership that incentivizes state appropriations to public higher education institutions.

“Fifty years ago this month, President Johnson signed the HEA to help provide needy students with the financial aid funding required to pursue a higher education,” said JSFA Editor Jacob P. Gross. “Today, policymakers and higher education advocates are still working to improve the system to make sure it’s doing all it can to help students to and through college. In this HEA reauthorization – as our special edition demonstrates – we have the opportunity to make substantive improvements to our federal financial aid programs, and help more students open the doors to a higher education.”

But, as James S. Riepe Professor, Executive Director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD), President of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), and special edition Guest Editor Dr. Laura Perna writes in the JSFA, “Whether Congress will take the actions required to make these changes is, of course, yet to be seen.”

To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson, please email news@nasfaa.org or call (202) 785-6959.


The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 20,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every ten undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit www.nasfaa.org. 

Publication Date: 11/2/2015

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