Research & Commentary: PROSPER Act Would Revolutionize Higher Education

"A massive revision of the federal law governing higher education has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The 590-page Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act is designed to hold students and institutions more accountable for how they use federal loans and financial aid and to help students complete the education they choose," The Heartland Institute writes.

"The aims of the PROSPER Act are to innovate higher education by promoting access and completion, at the same time simplifying and improving student aid and ensuring strong accountability alongside a reduced role for the federal government.

'This is the first real reform of the Higher Education Act since 1965,' Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the bill's chief sponsor and the chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, told School Reform News. 'Nothing like this has been done before, although … there have been accretions and additions to the law. The world has changed a lot, and postsecondary education has not. We have focused too much on stratifying education, saying that higher education means getting a baccalaureate degree and only a baccalaureate degree. We're trying to break that down by talking about lifelong learning.'

... 'University systems—mostly public schools, not necessarily the small liberal arts colleges—have a huge washout after the freshman year,' said Foxx. 'Students leave because they are ill-suited to attend college. They shouldn't have been admitted. We are asking for a sense of responsibility on the part of both the student and the institution. Under this bill, institutions have to pay back some of the debt if students drop out.'

Currently, higher education in the United States is not working well. It costs far too much, is resistant to reform, and considering only roughly half of students graduate within six years, it often produces a low-quality educational experience. Government and private subsides granted to higher education institutions have caused spending to soar and have disempowered students. Federal aid programs have mostly failed and contribute to the upward spiral of higher education costs. They need to be reformed. The PROSPER ACT would help move higher education in the right direction, adding much-needed accountability and transparency to the higher ed industry while simultaneously adding additional tools to help students prepare for their careers outside of the classroom."

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Publication Date: 6/13/2018

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