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Higher Ed on the Brain in Congress


June 27, 2014


Higher Ed on the Brain in Congress

This week, the House Education and the Workforce Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee released priorities for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Last reauthorized in 2008, HEA governs the postsecondary education system, including federal student aid programs, institutional aid and teacher preparation programs. In recent years, the issue of college affordability has been a hot topic on Capitol Hill, and the priorities of the committees have taken that on in force.

The House is focusing on four principles, including:

  1. empowering students and families to make informed decisions
  2. simplifying and improving student aid
  3. promoting innovation, access, and completion
  4. ensuring strong accountability and a limited federal role

To those ends, the committee is looking to update current accountability provisions to better capture today’s student population, especially “non-traditional” or contemporary students, who currently make up the majority of the student population. Additionally, while the committee will work to increase transparency in accountability, they do not believe in imposing a “one-size-fits-all” rating system as has been previously proposed by the U.S. Department of Education.

The committee is also seeking to reinstate year-round Pell grant eligibility, although without an increase in the semester cap, and include stronger support for competency based education models.

On the Senate side, the HELP committee also laid out four principles for reauthorization:

  1. increasing affordability and reducing college costs for students
  2. helping borrowers better manage debt
  3. holding schools accountable to students and taxpayers
  4. helping students and families make informed choices

Similar to the House, the HELP committee is also seeking to reinstate year-round Pell grants to help students speed up time to credential completion. In addition, they are also proposing expanding access to dual enrollment and early college high school opportunities for secondary students.

After releasing their priorities, the committees have introduced several pieces of legislation to implement portions of them. ACTE is currently reviewing these bills, and will be bringing more information to members right here on the CTE Policy Watch blog.

You can view ACTE’s reauthorization priorities for HEA right here as well.

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