GOP Seeks to Shift Accountability for Colleges

"Education groups scrambled Friday to dissect a massive bill from Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to reauthorize the federal law that governs higher education, with proposals that have serious implications for how students pay for their degrees and how colleges are evaluated," Inside Higher Ed reports.

"The bill also delivers on long-held GOP priorities to roll back regulations on the for-profit and online education sectors and steers new federal money to apprenticeships and career training.

Broad outlines of the 542-page proposal emerged earlier in the week. And well ahead of the bill’s release, it was clear that Representative Virginia Foxx, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the House education committee, would look to simplify the federal student aid program (partly by ending many loan repayment benefits), eliminate the gainful-employment rule and other regulations long opposed by for-profits, and more broadly seek to link federal aid eligibility to students' ability to repay loans.

The details in the full bill did not win much support from college lobbyists and student aid advocates. While most were still examining the full implications of the bill, groups said the legislation would increase the cost of college for students while doing significantly less to protect them from low-quality programs.

Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, said the group is 'deeply concerned that the proposal would undermine decades of federal policy aimed at helping students at the undergraduate and graduate levels afford a high-quality higher education.'

Among the most significant developments in the bill is how it would reshape the way colleges and universities are held accountable for their students’ success graduating and repaying loans.

The bill eliminates an Obama administration rule designed to weed out career education programs that graduate too many students with debt they can’t repay. Another provision, meanwhile, adds new graduation benchmarks for minority-serving institutions seeking dedicated federal grant funding. And colleges across the board would be on the hook for student progress on loan repayment.

While Foxx didn’t get much support from higher education for the bill, the White House on Friday afternoon released a set of priorities for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act that broadly reflected the goals of the House proposal. And Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, issued a statement backing the framework, saying the 'status quo' is not working for millions of students and that tinkering around the edges isn’t enough."

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.

 

Publication Date: 12/5/2017

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