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
Request to Extend Relief for Federal Student Loan Borrowers
Request to Extend Relief for Federal Student Loan Borrowers
Letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asking for an extension of the current suspension of payment and zero percent interest for federal student loan borrowers and the suspension of collections on defaulted loans during the pandemic.
Executive Action Priorities for Higher Education Under the Biden Administration
Executive Action Priorities for Higher Education Under the Biden Administration
Letter to the Biden-Harris transition team on the Trump administration's executive actions of concern to students, educators, and institutions that could be reversed by the Biden administration.
Rescission of 2016 Clery Handbook: What Does It Mean for Colleges and Universities?
Rescission of 2016 Clery Handbook: What Does It Mean for Colleges and Universities?
The Department of Education is rescinding the 2016 Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting and publishing a new Clery-related Appendix in the FSA Handbook. This Issue Brief explains the changes and answers key questions.
ACE, Higher Education Groups Support Princeton in Federal Inquiry After University Acknowledges Systemic Racism
ACE, Higher Education Groups Support Princeton in Federal Inquiry After University Acknowledges Systemic Racism
ACE and 55 other higher education associations have written to Secretary Betsy DeVos to protest the Education Department's investigation of Princeton University for recognizing that racism remains a significant problem in U.S. higher education.
Letter in Support of Princeton in Department of Education's Anti-discrimination Investigation
Letter in Support of Princeton in Department of Education's Anti-discrimination Investigation
ACE and 53 other higher education associations sent this letter to Secretary Betsy DeVos to protest the Department of Education’s investigation of Princeton University for recognizing that racism remains a significant problem in U.S. higher education.
Education Department Finalizes New Rule on Campus Free Speech
Education Department Finalizes New Rule on Campus Free Speech
The Department of Education has released its final rule implementing President Trump’s executive order linking federal research and education grants to campus free speech for public institutions.
Deadline Approaching for Institutions to Apply for CARES Act Grant Program Funds
Deadline Approaching for Institutions to Apply for CARES Act Grant Program Funds
Colleges and universities have until Oct. 20 to apply for funding from the CARES Act-funded Institutional Resilience and Expanded Postsecondary Opportunity program.
Request for Delay in Implementing the Final Title IX Rule
Request for Delay in Implementing the Final Title IX Rule
Letter from 15 higher education association presidents to Education Secretary Betsy Devos requesting a delay in implementing the final Title IX rule, which is scheduled to go into effect Aug. 14.
Education Department Emergency Aid Coming to Students Next Week, Institutional Assistance Coming Soon
Education Department Emergency Aid Coming to Students Next Week, Institutional Assistance Coming Soon
The Department of Education (ED) announced the first phase of distributing the roughly $14 billion for higher education institutions and students included in the CARES Act, the stimulus bill signed into law March 27.
ACE, Other Associations Ask for Swift Distribution of Higher Education Stimulus Funds
ACE, Other Associations Ask for Swift Distribution of Higher Education Stimulus Funds
ED should move quickly to distribute the money to higher education institutions and students contained in the $2 trillion CARES Act, urge ACE and 40 other associations.
Letter to Secretary DeVos on Distributing Funds in the CARES Act
Letter to Secretary DeVos on Distributing Funds in the CARES Act
Letter to Secretary Betsy DeVos on the need to distribute the higher education emergency relief funds included in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act as soon as possible.
CARES Act Higher Education Relief Fund Simulation
CARES Act Higher Education Relief Fund Simulation
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides almost $14 billion that will go directly to higher education institutions. This database is a simulation of how the Education Department might distribute these funds.
Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Allocates $14 Billion to Higher Education
Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Allocates $14 Billion to Higher Education
ACE President Ted Mitchell called the higher education provisions in the plan, which total approximately $14 billion, “woefully inadequate.”
Summary of the Higher Education Provisions in the CARES Act
Summary of the Higher Education Provisions in the CARES Act
Summary of the higher education provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which provides over $2 trillion in emergency relief to address the economic downturn resulting from the pandemic.
Letter Requesting a Delay on Title IX and Section 117 Rules
Letter Requesting a Delay on Title IX and Section 117 Rules
Letter to Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting the department delay further action on the final Title IX rule and Section 117 foreign gifts and contracts information collection request until after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.
Letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Waiving Financial Responsibility Standards
Letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Waiving Financial Responsibility Standards
Letter to Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting the Department of Education use its authority under Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act to temporarily waive financial responsibility standards.
Letter to Congress in Support of Research During COVID-19 Pandemic
Letter to Congress in Support of Research During COVID-19 Pandemic
Letter from ACE, AAU, APLU, and AAMC outlining a four-point strategy to help U.S. universities continue leading in the battle against COVID-19 and ensure that research in other areas can continue.
Memo to Congress: Supporting Higher Education During the Pandemic
Memo to Congress: Supporting Higher Education During the Pandemic
Recommendations from the higher education community for what to include in the coronavirus emergency stimulus bill Congress is drafting to support college students and institutions.
Letter Urging Student Loan Repayment Relief During COVID-19 Crisis
Letter Urging Student Loan Repayment Relief During COVID-19 Crisis
Letter to Congress from ACE, the NASFAA, and TICAS urging Congress to provide immediate repayment relief to federal student loan borrowers amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Senate Blocks Education Department's Borrower Defense Rule
Senate Blocks Education Department's Borrower Defense Rule
Both houses of Congress are formally opposing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s borrower defense rule finalized last September, with both the House and Senate passing resolutions expressing disapproval of the rule.
ACE, Higher Education Groups Comment on New Foreign Gift and Reporting Information Request
ACE, Higher Education Groups Comment on New Foreign Gift and Reporting Information Request
The Department of Education should make changes to the latest version of its proposed expansion of foreign gift and contract reporting requirements, ACE said in comments submitted March 11.
Comments on the Education Department's Revised Section 117 Information Collection Request
Comments on the Education Department's Revised Section 117 Information Collection Request
Comments to the Department of Education from ACE and 36 other higher education associations on the proposed information collection request for foreign gift and contracts disclosure under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act.
Education Department Issues Coronavirus Guidelines as Campuses Continue to Prepare and Respond
Education Department Issues Coronavirus Guidelines as Campuses Continue to Prepare and Respond
The Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid has released guidance to help colleges and universities comply with student financial aid policies for students whose activities are impacted by the new coronavirus.
Education Department Rule Implementing Trump’s Campus Free Speech Order Is "Breathtaking in Its Reach"
Education Department Rule Implementing Trump’s Campus Free Speech Order Is "Breathtaking in Its Reach"
President Trump signed an executive order last March that linked federal research and education grants to campus free speech. Read ACE's comments on the Education Department's proposed rule implementing the order.
Comments to the Education Department on Free Speech NPRM
Comments to the Education Department on Free Speech NPRM
Comments to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on the notice of proposed rulemaking to implement President Trump’s March 2019 executive order on free speech.
Education Department Withdraws Emergency HEA Section 117 Information Collection Request
Education Department Withdraws Emergency HEA Section 117 Information Collection Request
In its place, ED the department resubmitted a proposal for an expanded information collection request with just one change: It removes the request for unredacted “true copies” of contracts and gift agreements from covered institutions.
Missed Our Recent Webinar on HEA Reauthorization? No Problem, See It On ACE Engage.
Missed Our Recent Webinar on HEA Reauthorization? No Problem, See It On ACE Engage.
The December webinar, “Whither Higher Education Act Reauthorization?” is now archived exclusively on ACE Engage®, ACE’s online community and learning platform.
House Votes to Block Education Department Rule on Borrower Defense
House Votes to Block Education Department Rule on Borrower Defense
The House of Representatives voted 231-180 to pass a resolution to block Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' new borrower defense rule from going into effect.
Bill to Improve Accessibility of College Materials Reintroduced in Senate
Bill to Improve Accessibility of College Materials Reintroduced in Senate
Legislation to create a commission to draft voluntary guidelines for accessible college instructional materials, which ACE has long supported, has been reintroduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Letter in Support of the AIM HIGH Act
Letter in Support of the AIM HIGH Act
Letter to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in support of the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education (AIM-HIGH) Act, which would create a commission to draft voluntary guidelines for accessible college instructional materials.
Comments and Memo on Section 117 Information Collection
Comments and Memo on Section 117 Information Collection
Comments from ACE and 14 higher education associations and explanatory memo on the Department of Education's revised proposed information collection request tied to Section 117.
Letter to Department of Education on Section 117 Information Collection Request
Letter to Department of Education on Section 117 Information Collection Request
Letter from ACE and 10 higher education associations in opposition to the Department of Education's request for emergency processing of an information collection request tied to Section 117.
Letter to the House in Support of the FUTURE Act
Letter to the House in Support of the FUTURE Act
Letter to House leaders in support of the Senate verison of the FUTURE Act, which adds FAFSA simplification and other provisions to the restoration of the funding stream for minority serving institutions.
Senate Approves Compromise Measure to Extend MSI Funding, Simplify FAFSA
Senate Approves Compromise Measure to Extend MSI Funding, Simplify FAFSA
The Senate has approved an amendment to the FUTURE Act that would permanently restore $255 million in funding for minority serving institutions and streamline the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Comments and Memo on ED's Section 117 Information Collection Request
Comments and Memo on ED's Section 117 Information Collection Request
Comments to the Education Department on the proposed Information Collection Request on Sec. 117 of the Higher Education Act, “Disclosures of Foreign Gifts.”
Education Department Releases Final Rules on Accreditation, State Authorization
Education Department Releases Final Rules on Accreditation, State Authorization
The Education Department has published its final regulations on accreditation and state authorization distance education, the result of a negotiated rulemaking session earlier this year.
Summary of the College Affordability Act
Summary of the College Affordability Act
A summary of the College Affordability Act, the House bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.
Letter to the House on the College Affordability Act
Letter to the House on the College Affordability Act
Letter to the House Committee on Education and Labor on the College Affordability Act, a bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.
House Committee Approves HEA Legislation; Future of Bill Is Uncertain
House Committee Approves HEA Legislation; Future of Bill Is Uncertain
The House Education and Labor Committee voted to pass a bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the primary law that governs the relationship between the federal government, colleges and universities, and students.
Education Department Releases Final Rules on Accreditation, State Authorization
Education Department Releases Final Rules on Accreditation, State Authorization
The Education Department has published its final regulations on accreditation and state authorization distance education, the result of a negotiated rulemaking session earlier this year.
ACE, Other Associations Respond to House HEA Reauthorization Bill
ACE, Other Associations Respond to House HEA Reauthorization Bill
ACE and 32 other higher education associations today sent a letter to the leaders of the House Education and Labor Committee outlining areas of support and concern with the College Affordability Act.
Overview of Section 117 Foreign Gift and Contract Reporting
Overview of Section 117 Foreign Gift and Contract Reporting
Talking points on foreign gift and contract reporting requirements under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act.
ED Announces Plans to Expand Collection of Information on Foreign Gifts and Contracts
ED Announces Plans to Expand Collection of Information on Foreign Gifts and Contracts
As Congress and federal security agencies raise concerns about foreign influence at colleges and universities, campuses have had an increasing number of questions about the foreign gift and contract reporting requirements.
Summary of the Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019
Summary of the Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019
The Student Aid Improvement Act was introduced in the Senate by Lamar Alexander, chair of the HELP Committee, to address some of the issues involved in reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
House Democrats Begin the HEA Reauthorization Process (Again)
House Democrats Begin the HEA Reauthorization Process (Again)
House Democrats have introduced the latest legislative proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the law that governs federal financial aid and other higher education programs, as well as relevant rules and regulations.
ED Announces Plans to Expand Collection of Information on Foreign Gifts and Contracts
ED Announces Plans to Expand Collection of Information on Foreign Gifts and Contracts
As Congress and federal security agencies raise concerns about foreign influence at colleges and universities, campuses have had an increasing number of questions about the foreign gift and contract reporting requirements.
Education Department Releases Final Borrower Defense Rules
Education Department Releases Final Borrower Defense Rules
The Department of Education has released its final regulation on borrower defense to repayment, which cancels Direct Loans for students whose institutions misled them.
Trump Administration Announces Easier Path to Student Loan Forgiveness for Disabled Veterans
Trump Administration Announces Easier Path to Student Loan Forgiveness for Disabled Veterans
ACE President Ted Mitchell applauded the announcement and urged the administration to address other loan cancellation problems.
Letter to the Department of Education on Impact of State Authorization Rule Change on California Students
Letter to the Department of Education on Impact of State Authorization Rule Change on California Students
​ACE sent this letter to Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos regarding a rule change that threatens to leave an estimated 80,000 California students without financial aid.
ACE, Higher Education Groups Ask Lawmakers to Prioritize Graduate Education
ACE, Higher Education Groups Ask Lawmakers to Prioritize Graduate Education
ACE joined a coalition of more than 30 higher education groups in a letter to congressional leaders June 15, urging them to make graduate students a priority in the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
Letter to Education Department on Foreign Gift Reporting Requirements
Letter to Education Department on Foreign Gift Reporting Requirements
Letter to Mitchell M. Zais regarding the agency's reply​ to requests for clarification on Section 117 of the Higher Education Act.
ACE, Associations Reiterate Request for Clarification of Foreign Gift Reporting Requirements
ACE, Associations Reiterate Request for Clarification of Foreign Gift Reporting Requirements
ACE and other higher education associations have for the third time in seven months sent a letter asking the Department of Education to clarify the reporting requirements for foreign gifts.
Department of Education Repeals Gainful Employment Regulations
Department of Education Repeals Gainful Employment Regulations
​​The Education Department has rescinded the Obama-era gainful employment regulations, which penalized some programs that graduated students with too much debt. ACE and other groups advocated against repeal.
Statement of ACE Senior Vice President Terry W. Hartle on Repeal of Gainful Employment Regulations
Statement of ACE Senior Vice President Terry W. Hartle on Repeal of Gainful Employment Regulations
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on June 28 issued the final repeal of regulations crafted by the Obama administration to hold low-quality career education programs accountable.
Letter to Education Department on Foreign Gift Reporting Requirements
Letter to Education Department on Foreign Gift Reporting Requirements
Letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos seeking clarification of Section 117 of the Higher Education Act.​​​​
Congressional Hearings Look at Accountability, Priorities for Higher Ed
Congressional Hearings Look at Accountability, Priorities for Higher Ed
The Senate HELP Committee held the latest in a series of panels on issues that will be addressed in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, while Education Secretary DeVos visited the House Committee on Education and Labor to discuss priorities.
Testimony to Senate HELP Committee on Addressing Campus Sexual Assault
Testimony to Senate HELP Committee on Addressing Campus Sexual Assault
Anne Meehan, director of Government Relations at ACE, delivered testimony April 2 to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee at a hearing on “Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act: Addressing Campus Sexual Assault and Ensuring Stude...
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Whither HEA Reauthorization?
Whither HEA Reauthorization?
This webinar provided overview of the prospects for HEA reauthorization, major issues involved with the legislation, and the implications for colleges and universities. Only on ACE Engage—Create your account!
Whither Higher Education Act Reauthorization Q&A
Whither Higher Education Act Reauthorization Q&A
ACE's Terry Hartle and Jon Fansmith host a follow-up session to the "Whither HEA Reauthorization" webinar, answering attendees' questions about the legislation. Only on ACE Engage—Create your account!
Public Policy
Public Policy
This group is designed for those focused on federal higher education policymaking, with opportunities to discuss pressing policy issues. Only on ACE Engage—Create your account!