House Education Committee Approves College Cost Reduction Act
February 05, 2024

​The House Education and the Workforce Committee voted along party lines last week to pass the College Cost Reduction Act (CCRA) (H.R. 6951), an overhaul of federal student aid, lending, repayment, and accreditation processes that is meant to be a significant step toward reauthorizing the Higher Education Act of 1965, last updated in 2008.

Unfortunately, the rushed timeline between the 223-page bill’s introduction and the markup left little room for thorough analysis and stakeholder input. ACE and other higher education associations sent a letter on Tuesday expressing their concern over the lack of time for stakeholder input and other problems with the bill. You can also read a brief summary of the bill here and full details of the hearing in Inside Higher Ed.

On the plus side, before the markup the bill’s sponsors updated the legislation to restore the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, a change which we strongly advocated for. They also eliminated a provision that would have created a boosted Pell Grant program for students in their third and fourth years of study.

Other aspects of the version of the CCRA as introduced continue to be problematic. The proposed value-added earnings vs. total price formula, risk-sharing mechanisms, and changes to the need analysis formula raise concerns about unintended consequences, which could disproportionately impact low-income students and institutions serving underrepresented groups. Additionally, caps on loan limits, the termination of PLUS loans, and a focus on “student achievement outcomes” over “student achievement” pose significant challenges for both students and institutions. ACE is continuing to analyze the managers amendment introduced by Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) to determine other potential changes to the introduced version of the CCRA.

The bill now moves to the full House, and the timeline for a vote there is unclear. It is unlikely to be taken up in the Senate, reflecting broader political disagreements over the future of federal student aid and higher education reform.

Ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, Democrats on the committee issued their own HEA plan, called the Roadmap to College Student Success. A package of six bills, the roadmap is aimed at making college more affordable, improving access to high-quality programs, and increasing overall student support services, with provisions on free community college, doubling the Pell Grant, and fighting student food insecurity. You can read a brief summary of the proposal here.

​College Cost Reduction Act

download the summary

Roadmap to College Student Success

download the summary