Higher Education Act and Department of Education

The Issue

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) administers most federal student financial aid, collects data on the nation's colleges and universities, and administers many of the federal higher education policies created by Congress. It also enforces laws regarding privacy, civil rights, and other issues for institutions that accept federal funds.

The primary law through which ED administers these programs is the Higher Education Act (HEA), first passed in 1965. Since then, HEA has been rewritten eight separate times. The current HEA was set to expire at the end of 2013 but was extended while Congress works on the next reauthorization. Among the issues that will likely be debated in the upcoming reauthorization are affordability and college costs; access, persistence, and completion; better information for consumers; student loan programs; accreditation and oversight; innovation; campus safety, and the burden of federal regulations. ACE works with Congress and the administration on an ongoing basis to ensure the views of our members are reflected in policy discussions and during the reauthorization process.

Our Work