Both the House and Senate have begun work on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act (HEA), the nation's main law governing postsecondary education. Federal law requires the HEA to be renegotiated every five years, but it has been running on a series of temporary extensions since 2013. It was last renewed in 2008.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved its HEA bill, the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity Through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act (H.R. 4508), in December. House leaders reportedly intend to bring the measure to the floor for a vote as soon as they can find floor time, possibly in early February.
While the bill includes several valuable proposals, these are greatly outweighed by multiple provisions that would be harmful to higher education, and particularly to low- and middle-income students. ACE is urging its members and others to contact their representatives and explain why the higher education community opposes the legislation in its current form.
To help with this advocacy, ACE has launched an HEA resource page which includes information about the bill along with links to contact House members on provisions of interest to undergraduates, graduate students, graduates and student loan borrowers, and higher education institutions.
For its part, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) has been holding a series of hearings to prepare for drafting its reauthorization bill.
At the most recent hearing, HELP Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said the committee would begin the drafting process within the next few weeks.
But, as Inside Higher Ed reported this morning, a Democratic committee aide said that “given that the complex policy negotiations haven’t even begun yet and it took almost a year to negotiate the last bipartisan education bill, it’s hard to imagine that a comprehensive bipartisan reauthorization of the Higher Education Act can be completed thoughtfully and well in ‘the next few weeks.’”