Higher Education Act Reauthorization

As Congress begins serious consideration of reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, as amended, legislation and related resources, including NASFAA comments and in-depth analysis, can be found on this page. This HEA Reauthorization page also offers HEA-related legislation from 2013-present and NASFAA’s HEA recommendations for Congress.

Removing Barriers and Expanding Opportunity: An Overview of NASFAA's Higher Education Act Reauthorization Priorities

In September 2021, NASFAA published the most recent update to its recommendations to modernize the HEA to meet the needs of today's students and institutions. These refreshed recommendations reflect the ever-changing postsecondary landscape. This document provides an overview of NASFAA's top HEA policy priorities.

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NASFAA's Previous HEA Work

Prior to the most recent set of recommendations published in September 2021, NASFAA and its members were hard at work for nearly a decade analyzing the HEA and recommending  new policies. In 2013, NASFAA released the preliminary report of the NASFAA Reauthorization Task Force. An updated report was released in July 2016 to include subsequent work from NASFAA policy task forces. In August 2019, NASFAA’s HEA Reauthorization Refresh Working Group released updated recommendations. These updates  were incorporated into Making Financial Aid Work for All, which detailed NASFAA’s top reauthorization priorities at its time of publication in August 2019.

Current Congressional HEA Reauthorization Work (2019-Present)

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

Several major changes to federal student aid policy became law in December 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, the fiscal year 2021 Omnibus spending bill. Though the bill did not propose a comprehensive reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, it did include a number of significant higher education provisions including FAFSA simplification, changes to Federal Methodology, the expansion of Pell Grant eligibility to incarcerated students, and the repeal of the limitation on lifetime subsidized loan eligibility, known as Subsidized Usage Limit Applies (SULA).

College Affordability Act

On October 15, 2019, Democratic members of the House education committee introduced a comprehensive bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA) that would make significant changes to the way students access federal financial aid. The bill — dubbed the College Affordability Act (CAA)  — opens federal aid to new populations of students, tweaks pivotal grant and loan forgiveness programs, and establishes a new institutional accountability metric, among other changes.

Student Aid Improvement Act

On September 27, 2019, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) made good on one of his landmark legislative initiatives when he took to the Senate floor to propose a narrow reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) that focuses largely on simplifying the FAFSA. The Student Aid Improvement Act takes up several suggestions offered by NASFAA, including auto-qualifying applicants up-front for maximum Pell Grants if they meet specific criteria.

115th Congress HEA Reauthorization Work (2016-2018)

House Reauthorization Bills PROSPER AHA Chart

  • House Republicans' Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act - NASFAA Coverage
  • House Democrats' Aim Higher Act - NASFAA Coverage

NASFAA breaks down & compares House Republicans' PROSPER Act and House Democrats' Aim Higher Act in this helpful chart.

Previous Congressional HEA Reauthorization Work (2013-2016)

HEA ChartSee NASFAA's comparison chart that illustrates the similarities and differences between the House and Senate bills.

Senate Reauthorization Bills

House Reauthorization Bills

All NASFAA Today's News coverage of HEA Reauthorization


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College Affordability Act (CAA)

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