House Committee Approves HEA Legislation; Future of Bill Is Uncertain
November 04, 2019

​​​The House Education and Labor Committee voted last week to pass a bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA), the primary law that governs the relationship between the federal government, colleges and universities, and students.

The College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674) was approved along party lines, with no Republicans voting yes.

At over 1,200 pages, the measure represents a substantial rewriting and expansion of the HEA. While ACE and other higher education associations support some of these changes, there are other areas where the groups have concerns and questions. Ahead of the markup that began Oct. 29, ACE sent a letter to committee leaders on behalf of 32 other groups outlining these concerns.

The bill is a dense, complicated piece of legislation, with a number of provisions that would be beneficial for students and institutions, such as significant increases in student aid and institutional support for institutions that have historically been under-resourced. However, these provisions are offset by intrusive, complicated, or burdensome requirements that will undercut the bill's primary goal to make higher education more affordable. Read a comprehensive summary of the bill here, and a shorter overview here.

During the two-day markup, the committee rejected an amendment in the nature of a substitute offered by Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the High-Quality Opportunities in Postsecondary Education (HOPE) Act. It is essentially the Republican HEA bill—known as the PROSPER Act—passed out of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce in December 2017 that had little chance of succeeding now that Republicans are in the minority.

One significant change is that the House Republicans made the HOPE Act revenue neutral, whereas PROSPER had made historic cuts to federal student aid. But it’s mostly notable for keeping track of what the Republicans on the committee are pushing for, because many of these ideas reappear throughout the reauthorization process.

For more information about HEA reauthorization, click here.

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Toolkit: Renewing the Higher Education Act​
Resources for campuses, students, and families.